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Crowdfunding (also spelled crowd funding) is an Internet neologism referring to the practice of raising capital for a project idea through donations from a grassroots network of individuals on the Internet.
The earliest known instance of an online grassroots fundraiser dates back to 1997 when American fans of the British rock group Marillion independently funded and organized an entire U.S. concert tour through an Internet-based campaign, raising over $60,000. A fe years later in 2000, the first music-focused crowdfunding platform ArtistShare was launched. Early examples of crowdfunding campaigns also sprang up in Japan with the group Electric Eel Shock raising £10,000 from 100 fans in exchange for lifetime guestlist privilege, becoming one of the first unsigned acts to fund their recording albums and concert shows.
The “crowdfunding” business model is believed to have originated from the broader concept of crowdsourcing, which describes the process of accomplishing a set goal through contributions from a large group of people on the Internet, rather than from traditional employees through centralized efforts. Meanwhile, the term “crowdfunding” was coined by Michael Sullivan in August 2006 with the launch of fundavlog, an incubator project for emerging video blogs and project proposals.
Many things are important factors, but funding from the ‘crowd’ is the base of which all else depends on and is built on. So, Crowdfunding is an accurate term to help me explain this core element of fundavlog.
That same year in 2006, general fundraising site Pledgie and music crowdfunding community Sellaband were launched. Throughout the late 2000s, several other crowdfunding platforms were established, most notably IndieGoGo in 2008, Kickstarter and Fundly in 2009, GoFundMe, Appsplit and Microventures in 2010. Following the resounding success of Kickstarter and IndieGogo, similar platforms for DIY fundraisers continued to emerge, as many as 450 unique platforms by mid-2012.
The crowdfunding model has also seen a visible impact in political campaigns through a similar concept known as “moneybombing,” a term initially coined during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign to describe the record-setting 24-hour fundraiser organized by the supporters of former Republican presidential nominee Ron Paul. On November 5th, 2007, Paul’s supporters raised $4.5 million dollars in one day through YouTube and the official website ThisNovember5th.com. Since then, moneybombing has become an increasingly useful tool in election campaigns at all levels, most notably during the 2010 midterm elections and 2012 presidential election in the United States.
There are two well-known models for crowdfunding platforms: All or Nothing, which allows the entrepreneur to collect the pledged donation only if the goal has been met, and Keep it All, which allows the transfer of fund regardless of the outcome or let the entrepreneur decide whether to collect or refund. The third but less known model is Bounty, which assigns the collected fund to anyone who completes the project first.
Kickstarter is an online crowdfunding website that facilitates grassroots fundraisers for a wide variety of creative projects, ranging from indie films, music and print publications to journalism, video games and food-related projects. It is considered the most well-known and highest performing crowdfunding platforms on the Web.
Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding website that provides a service similar to Kickstarter, however, with significantly less limitations on eligibility of applicants and immediate disbursement of the donations through PayPal accounts and credit card payment. Its most successful campaigns include Let’s Give Karen the bus monitor H Klein A Vacation ($703,833), “Stick-N-Find” ($861,165), “Bug-A-Salt” ($577,546) and “Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum” ($1.3 million).
GiveForward is a crowdfunding website that allows individuals to create fundraising campaigns for their love ones’ medical bills. Founded in August 2010, the site has funded bills for, “general medical expenses, cancer treatment, transplants, funeral costs and disaster-relief.” One the site’s most successful campaigns is “Project Amelia,” a campaign began by the friends of 29-year-old photographer Amelia Coffaro to fund her breast cancer treatments. As of May 2014, the campaign has raised over $64,000.
Her story, along with a profile of GiveForward, was featured on a “Kindness of Strangers” segment of CBS This Morning.
YouCaring is a crowdfunding site the specializes in fundraising for medical expenses, though you can also create campaigns for adoption fees, tuition and animal rescue. The site is fee free, meaning fundraisers will not be charged a portion of their fundraising totals. One of the sites most successful campaigns, “Kennedy’s Angels,” which raised funds for the education of a late veteran’s children, raised over $400,000.
FundRazr is a crowdfunding website that can be used to start campaigns to fund medical bills, as well as other charitable causes. Its parent company, ConnectionPoint, was founded in 2008. The site helps fundraisers reach their goals by automatically spreading word of their campaign through their social media accounts. As of May 2014, FundRazr’s Facebook page has over 63,000 likes.
Teen Gets Bionic Arm
Torri, a teenager from Ohio, has a right arm which stops above the elbow. On July, 18th, 2013, Torri’s friends began a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #HandForTorri hoping to raise the money to get Torri a bionic arm. The Twitter campaign reached the men behind The Buried Life, a group that helps people cross something off on their bucket list. They contacted a proseptic company called the Hanger company, who donated a bionic arm to Torri. On May 4th, 2014, The Buried Life posted Torri’s story to their YouTube channel. In less than 48 hours the video gained over 3,000 views.
On May 5th, 2014, Buzzfeed posted a story on Torri titled “A Group Of Friends Started A Twitter Campaign To Get A Girl A Bionic Arm.” In less than 48 hours the story gained over 70,000 views.
On August 9th, 2012, the crowdfunding website Offbeatr was launched by the Los Angeles-based startup Extra Lunch Money to help raise money for pornographic projects, many of which have been related to furry fandom.
Susan Wilson’s Kickstarter for her Daughter
In March 2013, entrepreneur Susan Wilson launched a Kickstarter to send her 9-year-old daughter Mackenzie to a programming summer camp to teach her how to create her own role-playing game (shown below).
On March 24th, 2013, Redditor RawrfulCast submitted a post to the /r/MensRights subreddit claiming that Wilson was a millionaire who had previously been listed as one of the “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” on Fortune, speculating that she was exploiting gender issues and her children to make money. By the following month, the Kickstarter was funded with over $24,500 of its $829 goal.
On May 17th, 2013, Gawker launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign intending to raise $200,000 USD to buy the Ford video. Within two days, they raised $63,500 towards their goal, breaking $145,000 by May 23rd. The same day, Gawker revealed they had not been in contact with the owners of the video since May 19th, that no money would be taken from pledgers unless they reached the full $200,000 goal and that they would donate the full amount to a Canadian nonprofit working against substance abuse if they were unable to obtain the video.
By early morning on May 27th, Gawker’s Indiegogo campaign had surpassed its goal of $200,000 with more than 8,000 donor contributions. Despite reaching the goal, Gawker followed up with an update to the Indiegogo page stating that no further contact has been made with the people whom they believed to be in possession of Ford’s crack smoking video.
In August 2014, a woman identifying herself as “Bailey” created a page on the website GoFundMe to raise money for to pay for an abortion, claiming “Bailey is currently unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.”
On September 8th, The Daily Dot reported that GoFundMe had shut down the campaign but awarded her the money she had been donated prior the page’s removal. On September 10th, The Daily Dot reported that pro-life groups were attempting to discover Bailey’s identity in order to convince her not to go through with her abortion, launching the “Bailey’s Healthy Pregnancy” fundraising campaign on GoFundMe for donations to give Bailey money in exchange for bringing the pregnancy to term.