Crowd funding is defined as the collective effort from a group of well-wishing individuals to raise money for a common cause; albeit charity, a business, an album or even a film. It is said that charity begins at home, and now that we’re all plugged in that couldn’t be truer.
If you yourself are interested in raising money for a cause that’s dear to your heart or even a personal project you’d never dream of being able to fund then you’ll probably benefit from trying a couple of these. The internet can be a very giving place sometimes.
Probably the most popular website of this type, Kickstarter has received plenty of media attention and successful high-profile projects. Those of you following the development of open source social network Diaspora probably already know that the team collected the $200,000 they needed for the project in a few weeks using Kickstarter.
Pretty much anything goes, with projects from a variety of genres including gaming, photography, comics, technology, art, journalism and video.
Visitors who pledge are known as backers, and these backers will further require an Amazon account to deliver the funds. If a project is not successful and does not make its funding target then no money is taken from any of the backers’ credit cards.
A system of “rewards” exists for those who pledge a certain amount. Rewards can vary from advanced copies to stickers, t-shirts and computers for heavy funders. You’re bound to find something worth supporting on Kickstarter.
As the name suggests, this is a musically-oriented crowd funding effort to help artists record a professional album. As the costs of getting noticed as an artist and producing releases escalate, the internet comes to the rescue by appealing directly to the artists’ fans.
In practice it’s a very musical way to distribute wealth, boldly claiming “you are the record company”. Sellaband’s fresh business model promises not to take any rights to the music, and the service is open to signed and unsigned artists.
Record labels, artist managers, publishers and anyone involved in the production process can use the site, which helps add to the diverse range of projects available.
Those willing to support are dubbed believers, and believers buy “parts” within the artist. A “part” is best likened to a share, and the share price is set by each artist. Much like Kickstarter there are incentives for supporters, and the whole service is free to use.
British fundraising website JustGiving has raised over £450 million (that’s about $700 million, or â‚¬530 million) for good causes since it launched in 2000. Over 8,000 causes have received funding, including an effort to help the recent 2010 Haiti earthquake appeal by raising £143,000 in 48 hours.
The website takes 5% of every donation towards costs, and also has the facilities to support the sponsoring of individuals for charity. This makes it a great choice if you’re thinking of taking on a personal project for your favourite cause, and would like to harness the power of the web to drive fundraising.
The fundraising service is still very much a business however, so if that influences your decision don’t forget that 5% of £450 million is a tidy profit of £25 million.
Operating much like Sellaband, PledgeMusic is a service for budding musicians who wish to raise money for their next release. The service does not retain any ownership rights and actively encourages raising money for charity alongside its main cause.
Artists that owe success to the website include Funeral for a Friend and Madina Lake, making up the 77% overall success rate. Like many similar efforts, rewards are available to those who pledge money and credit cards are not charged until the project reaches its funding target.
PledgeMusic has received praise from the British government for its innovative approach, as well as being nominated for Best Innovation or Gadget at the 2010 BT Digital Music Awards .
“I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help” is the motto for PledgeBank, another service designed to raise awareness and funding for struggling or underfunded causes. This one’s slightly different to the rest in that the pledges often require an action, such as taking on a role after the pledge has been met.
Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair once pledged to become a patron of a community sports group if 100 other notable figures would do the same. The pledge was successful, and Tony needed some new trainers.
PledgeBank has also been used to spread awareness for certain movements such as the Freeculture.org appeal to boycott DRM-infected CDs and DVDs. It’s also nice to know that the service is not run for profit, so pledge away.
Do you use any other charitable websites? Ever had a successful fundraising project? What do you think of charity-for-profit services? Are they helping or hindering charity fundraising? Get it all off your back in the comments section!
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