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May 4, 2012

Four Crowdfunding for Good Platforms

We’ve been reading a lot about crowdfunding, which allows regular citizens to pledge money to help a project or business launch or evolve. Today we’re looking at platforms geared specifically at crowdfunding for good.

Increasingly we’ve been reading about a shift in perception toward philanthropy. The norm used to be that people worked hard to earn money for several decades and then offered money (or time) to support good causes, but now we’re seeing people offer their time and money a lot earlier. Instead of waiting until they’ve amassed a fortune, many millennials are finding ways to give now, whether by building business that give (think TOMS shoes) or giving small amounts when they can.

The Internet has been a catalyst in the trend of microgiving for two key reasons. First, people are able to get the word out to their networks — and to strangers — more fluidly and rapidly than ever before, which has increased awareness for causes significantly. The second key reason is that online giving is quick and simple. Within a second of watching a moving YouTube video about a cause, a viewer can make a seamless and immediate donation with the click of a PayPal button.

The term for a group of people coming together to fund a project or a cause is being referred to as crowdfunding; microgiving, then, is just another form of this, but with philanthropic intentions. Below, we’re going to explore four different crowdfunding platforms for good, which are all different in their approach, but their end goal is the same: use the power of the crowd (or their credit cards, to be exact) to create positive change.

4 Crowdfunding Platforms for Good

1. Crowdrise 

Crowdrise is among the most wellknown online fundraising platforms and has become famous for its sarcastic tone of voice (their tagline is, “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.“). Injecting wit and humour into every part of their website makes giving fun and engaging. Their integration with social media also makes it easy to share campaigns and feel like part of a community. Finally, Crowdrise’s use of tools like a thermometer to measure success and reward systems adds a game-like element and for some, a sense of competition. Anyone can start their own Crowdrise campaign within seconds and start driving their friends to their mini website and begin raising funds. From the website:

“The Crowdrise site is a unique blend of online fundraising, crowdsourcing, social networking, contests, and other nice stuff. If you don’t understand anything on the site, please check out the How It Works Page or How it Works Video or just ask any fifteen year old.” 

3. StartSomeGood

Raising money for a charity is complicated, but it has the benefit of tax receipts. Nonprofits can’t issue tax receipts, and neither can social enterprises, which can make it even more challenging to raise funds. Fortunately, StartSomeGood is offering a crowdfunding solution for any such venture (so long as its intentions are positive), but unlike Crowdrise, users of StartSomeGood need to apply before they can launch a campaign.

“All applications are read and evaluated against a criteria of social impact, innovation and achievability,” the website explains. “We welcome applications from all type of social good initiatives: non-profits, for-profits, associations, and even one-time projects where you and your team are the venture.”

After that, users are able to launch their own campaign page, which can include multimedia, and begin tapping into the power of the crowd.

3. Causes
Causes is a crowfunding platform with 170 million members that is integrated within Facebook. Since being founded in 2007, the platform has been able to raise $40 million to support 27,000 nonprofits and 500,000 causes. The platform lets anyone create a mini website for their cause and promote the page via Facebook, thereby making it easy to recruit friends. Campaigners can upload photos and videos to help spread their message, as well as start discussions around the topic to help increase awareness and interest.

4. has a crowdfunding platform that lets anyone “build a school in 3 hours,” although they’re not limited to fundraising for education. Different from the other three crowdfunding platforms that let anyone run a campaign and promote it to their entire network (and to strangers), works by targeting a smaller group of the fundraiser’s direct contacts. It’s designed to work using a simple formula: 33 people donate $3.33 for 3 months, which results in $10,000 raised. One of the essential parts of the campaign is personal connection; the fundraiser is required to film 32 personalized videos for 32 friends, whom he/she asks to join him in his fundraising efforts to raise the $10k goal.

Here’s a TEDx Talk that explains how it works in more detail: