February 8th, 2011 11:00 AMBy Rachel Signer
Whatever project you can dream up, there’s a crowdsourced funding platform out there for it. Entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, artists, environmentalists, educators, nonprofits and charities are using these sites to fundraise and turn their visions for social change into realities. These sites provide more than just a donor base — they create an online community of people who care about your cause and want to follow your progress.
1. spot.us is a funding platform for citizen journalism. Users can submit story tips, and journalists pitch their story ideas for funding. Reporters can also recruit users to help them with a story, which is later posted on the site. Reporters keep 90 percent of the revenue, the rest goes to site editors. If you’re low on cash but want to participate, you can support a story of your choice at no cost through earning points by taking a survey with a spot.us sponsor. The site hosts some excellent stories done by hardworking, independent investigative reporters.
2. 33needs is a web application that connects investors to small-scale entrepreneurs around the world. The investor receives 3% and 33needs receives 5% of the funding target for a project. The site helpfully divides up projects into categories such as “education,” “the planet,” “community,” and so on. It’s brand new, and looks like it’s off to a promising start.
3. Profounder aims to help entrepreneurs get a community to invest in their project, creating a support base in addition to bringing in money. The site’s team gives guidance on creating a fundraising pitch, managing investments and returns, and legal issues. Profounder’s blog illustrates various stories of helping small businesses expand and get their products to new markets.
4. Microplace is a Paypal-owned company that allows investors to put their money into projects that aim to alleviate poverty. Users create an account on MicroPlace like you would at any brokerage firm. Users then receive quarterly interest payments and portfolio statements. When an investment matures, users can either get their money back or roll it over into anther investment.
5. Kickstarter targets artists and entrepreneurs who need funding to bring their creative projects to life. Its use of video as a means of sharing projects makes it particularly fun and simple. A project cannot begin, and no credit cards are charged, until enough pledges have been made to reach the funding target, so as to discourage poorly-executed projects. Project creators inspire people to open their wallets by offering rewards, such as “thank you” mentions on their personal blogs, or products from their projects.
6. IndieGoGo, similar to Kickstarter, also caters to artists and creative entrepreneurs. What’s different here is that you can close a project before full funding, but the transaction fees also go up from 4% to 9%. Users can offer unique perks or tax deductions to contributors in lieu of offering profit, but always keep 100% ownership. IndieGogo benefits from an attractive, user-friendly site that makes it fun to browse through the projects.
7. Crowdrise allows you to support charities and volunteer organizations by voting for their projects on the site, donating money, or helping them fundraise. You can create a profile to help raise money for a charity, or join an existing project team. Crowdrise deducts 5% on donations made through the site and charges a $1 transaction fee for donations under $25 or a $2.50 transaction fee for donations $25 and over. Crowdrise already has 1.5 million charities on board.
8. Firstgiving helps organizations plan, execute, and measure successful online fundraising campaigns and events. Nonprofits can make a page to send to their supporters, or individuals can create a page to raise funds for an organization. With 8,000 organizations and 13 million online donors participating, and $1 billion raised online, Firstgiving’s services appear wide-reaching.
9 DonorsChoose allows teachers to solicit funding for specific needs in classrooms and schools. The site is well-organized, with tags for different kinds of projects, and it showcases quotes from donors about how good they feel after giving. Almost 7,000 donors have reached 45,000 students through funding over 1,000 projects on DonorsChoose.
10. ioby connects donors and volunteers to environmental projects in their neighborhoods to inspire new environmental knowledge and action in New York City. The site was founded on the principle that NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) beliefs can result in environmental hazards being pushed into low-income areas and communities of color. The site boasts of supporting innovative environmental projects like recycling and composting initiatives in New York City neighborhoods and schools, as well as street beautification, urban gardening, and park maintenance projects.
If we missed your favorite crowdsourced funding platform, leave it in the comments.