November 3, 2021 · IGG, In The News

10 Years, 1 Takeaway: It’s All About Community & Trust


Update 4/18/2022: This article has been updated to reflect the launch of our Trust Proven Program, which launched in February 2022.

This month, I’m celebrating a decade of working at Indiegogo. I’ve held many roles here, mainly in Product, and I added Trust and Safety under my stewardship last year. The world has changed so much since I began here, but one thing has remained constant: Indiegogo’s vision to connect entrepreneurs and enthusiasts so that, together, they can bring ideas to life.

As an organization, we’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years. Our mission will always stay the same, but how we achieve it must evolve.

Since our founding, we’ve focused on the innovators who want to bring ideas to life. Whether it’s in film, music, technology, or even causes, Indiegogo has made the impossible possible for hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. We want to celebrate these successes, but at the heart of it all, our single most important asset is our community of backers.

After all, our backers, quite literally, put the “crowd” into crowdfunding.

Community and trust are the foundation of crowdfunding

Candidly, we have not always lived up to our backers’ expectations. Matching the ethos of the late 2000s, Indiegogo was founded as an open platform where anyone could raise money for almost anything, with little restriction.

However, I’ve learned that “open” is not what our community wants. Crowdfunding is not shopping — people generally understand that now — but it also shouldn’t be a leap in the dark. And it certainly can’t be scamming. Our community of backers is the reason that anything happens on Indiegogo, and they are counting on the platform to be a safe, trusted space to engage with innovation.

Community and trust are the foundation of what makes crowdfunding work. Without them, taking the risk to get in early on a great idea doesn’t make sense. The risk has to be worth it, and backers need the tools to make an informed decision.

What we’re doing about it

That’s why we’ve been working hard over the past year to put community and trust at the forefront of everything we do. And we’re not just talking about it; we’re actually doing it. I’m excited today to share what we’ve done and where we’re headed.

There are too many changes to name them all, but I’d like to highlight a few of the big ones:

1. An overhauled and expanded Trust & Safety team. We take backer feedback seriously. Earlier this year, we completely revamped our Trust & Safety team under our new Trust Director and industry veteran, Nelson Ho. Since then we’ve made huge progress towards a safer platform. Beyond hiring Nelson, we’ve also invested in and grown our Trust & Safety organization with an eye toward the ultimate goal of being able to proactively vet the thousands campaigns live on our platform every day.

2. The Internal Review Board. We’ve also created an Internal Review Board to oversee our most impactful Trust decisions and ensure that we’re keeping our backer’s interests in mind at all times. The goal is to create a group specifically tasked with handling the riskiest campaigns escalated by the Trust & Safety team.

3. The Crowdfunding Trust Alliance. With our friends at GoFundMe, we have co-founded the Crowdfunding Trust Alliance to regularly share industry trends and best practices. We’re excited to work with the largest players in our industry and look forward to expanding the alliance to other reputable crowdfunding platforms.

4. The Guidepost Program. We recognize that our expertise can do a lot to ensure entrepreneurs only launch on Indiegogo when they have a viable plan to deliver. While we cannot guarantee that every campaign will fulfill successfully, we can protect backers from unfeasible projects and outright scams. We now have the resources and expertise to apply this level of scrutiny to all of our largest campaigns and will expand it to every campaign moving forward.

5. Trust Proven Program. Over the last 10 years, we’ve had a lot of successful campaigns, and the relationships we’ve built with these entrepreneurs are no small feat. Our Trust Loyalty program highlights new campaigns from entrepreneurs with a track record of success and tailor our vetting to match the historical risk level of these entrepreneurs. Check out this article for more information.

Of course, trust isn’t something you can build overnight, and we know we have to continue getting better. This is just an introduction to the things we’re doing behind the scenes to keep the platform safe.

In the coming year, we hope to bring most of this information directly to campaign pages to empower backers to make their best decisions about whether the risk is worthwhile. Further, we’ll leverage our community as a first line of defense to catch small problems before they become big problems.

When I joined Indiegogo our motto was “Together Do Anything.” I still believe it’s true. Together our team and our community can solve the hardest problem in our industry: making the risk worth it—so that you can get in on it first, be part of the journey, get your perk, and ultimately feel happy about your decision to bring amazing ideas to life.

Let’s make this happen.

Will Haines

VP of Product & Customer Trust at Indiegogo

Learn more about our Trust and Safety initiatives here.