: Traditional Fundraising vs. Funding on the Web
Guest Article by Amber Hughson
This past summer, a friend of mine sent me a link to a website I’
d never heard of along with ashort message about how his friend was in need of major surgery but did
t have healthinsurance to cover the costs. I clicked the link and was taken to a page where I could donate anyamount of money I chose, to help a young person in California get a much-needed surgicalprocedure. In exchange for different levels of giving, I could receive artwork done by therecipient.
I donated what I could and didn’t really think twice about the website, the concept, or
the model of fundraising, though I work in non-profits and really should have been paying moreattention. Later this year I ended up donating to a community arts organization, a historical
author, and an artist’s collective
by similar means, within just a few months.If you have a brilliant idea, a hard-working group of volunteers, or are in desperate need of repairs to your community building, it used to be that you had to throw a party with a hefty doorcharge to raise the money. From silent auctions and carwashes all the way up to searching forangel investors, traditional fundraising is often a huge investment of time, money, and valuableresources that lower-
income groups or individuals (like my friend’s friend) really can’t summon.
Much as it has with the way we communicate and find information, the internet is now changingthe way that we fund projects, small businesses, and even personal costs like expensive surgeriesor car repairs. That change has come in the form of crowdfunding
internet platforms that allowanyone, from anywhere, to donate to any organization or individual looking for secure startupcash.According to
,2013 is going to see a 60% increase incrowdfunding sources from 2011. That means a lot of platforms to examine and a huge learningcurve for funders and crowdfunding start-ups themselves. Not to mention a wide variety of projects near and far for potential donors to choose from.
So, why crowdfund rather than use traditional means?
For many, traditional means of fundraising just aren’t viable. L
ow cost fundraisers like letter-writing campaigns, car washes, bake sales, and collecting cash on street corners only bring in somuch money. For larger efforts like expensive building repairs or major surgeries, thesecommunity efforts barely make a dent
visibility is limited and you can only work within whattime and labor you have. Higher cost fundraisers like throwing parties and dinners require a
budget that many artists and entrepreneurs don’t have –
that’s why they’re fundraising in the first
place. Unless you have a large community with very specific resources (space, talent, equipment,and especially time), these kinds of fundraisers can be insurmountable to those who need fundingthe most.In the years before crowdfunding
ve surely missed out on some brilliant inventions,innovative business models, or even campaigns for political figures who could have changed our