Crowdfunding Gets Specific: 10 New Platforms
by Brittany Koteles
As a follow-up to yesterday’s piece on the explosion of crowdfunding in 2012, here’s a list of new platforms that connect crowdfunding to people, communities, and causes. Have a specific project? There may be a crowdfunding site for it.
Contests: Crowdfunder’s CROWDFUNDx remains the leader in bringing crowdfunding to the real world in live events. The company is launching both place-based campaigns and social enterprise-only pitch competitions, like CROWDIMPACT.
Research: Funders on Microryza receive lab updates from projects they fund, where they can directly interact with the researchers. When the study concludes, you’ll receive access to a journal with your name in the credits. Spotlight: A team that received $15,000 in funding has already launched its project to cure hookworms.
Local communities: Municipalities vet projects and submit them directly to Citizinvestor, where – you guessed it – citizens(!) can choose to fund the projects they care about most. Lucky Ant and CommunityFunded are two other examples, but their beta versions have a lot of geographical territory left to cover.
Young people with good ideas: Upstart is only open to approved investors, but its idea is distinct: Invest in a person, not a business. In this case, the person is a recent college grad with a big idea. The concept is starting to catch on in college alumni associations: crowdfunding could be the next big engagement tool that bridges successful alumni with bright-eyed students and recent grads from their alma mater. Alumni Funder is an important actor in the up-and-coming trend.
Inventions: Christie Street raises funds for inventors using pre-purchases as the main incentive. Like many niche platforms, Christie Street is has an expert team dedicated to vetting projects before putting them online. Inventors must submit designs, unit-cost calculations, trademarks, and they must agree to third-party audits. James Siminoff, chief inventor, hopes that creating an ecosystem and community around the cause will attract the best inventors to them.
Healthcare: MedStartr’s expert team offers a rigorous selection process and targeted mentoring. “One project like the Little Blue Suit succeeding can save thousands of lives and that is our true metric for success,” says founder Alex Fair.
Music: PledgeMusic, run by “music people,” boasts a 90% success rate and lets fans get involved in a band or label’s creative process. They don’t require the all-or-nothing funding label, a perk for aspiring artists.
Literature: Book fans pool their resources in unglue.it to pay authors up-front to publish a Creative Commons ebook.
Equity crowdfunding: Platforms like CircleUp and Seedrs paving the way to equity-based crowdfunding – meaning that investors receive a return investment if the company succeeds. Since the US legal situation still hasn’t opened equity funding to the masses, US-based CircleUp if for accredited investors only; whereas UK-based Seedrs is available to the masses.
This isn’t actually crowdfunding. OpenIDEO makes it easy for people to contribute to creating game changing social innovations. The platform presents social issue “challenges” – each one paired with a partnering nonprofit – and facilitates a massive creative process to shake out new solutions and ideas.
Brittany Koteles is a Spain-based writer on social impact and serves as the community director at HUB Barcelona.
(Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)