Kickstarter has become a go-to place for crowdsourcing, where individuals and companies ask the public for money to help create products, artistic works and other projects. It has succeeded for many, although its uses were narrow.
Apparently, that success has sparked many other kinds of crowdsourcing sites, for those among us who aren't necessarily going to build the next adjustable standing desk, waterless fermentation airlock for mason jars or music intended to scientifically improve cats' lives. People are now crowdfunding for all sorts of reasons, whether looking to pay for a house, car, wedding, adoption or operation. Here are just some of the sites out there:
- Feather the Nest. An online real estate-related gift registry, the site allows people to tell friends and relatives to donate money on the site rather than giving presents for weddings, baby showers, birthdays or holidays. The money accumulates toward the goal for a home down payment, home improvement or furniture. People are specifically told to be "realistic" in their goals because if you ask for too much, you won't get it.
- Tilt.com. The site bills itself as a place to pool money for things "like memorable group experiences, jaw-dropping group gifts and inspiring community causes." It has a community or group slant to it, although individuals can use it as well.
- YouCaring.com. The site claims to be for "compassionate crowdfunding." Some examples include raising money for tuition, adoption, medical bills, emergencies or charities. While you could ask for donations for yourself, it should be because of dire circumstances.
- BoostUp.com. This is another site with an emphasis on down payments, although cars and vacations come into the mix as well. You look for friends and family to donate, but companies pay to get access to the lists, so you might find that a local car dealership wants to explain why it can make buying an automobile oh, so easy.
- GoFundMe.com. A more general way to raise funds, with education becoming a popular category.
There are caveats. One is that all the sites will take some amount of the money you raise -- 5 percent is common.
And you'll find two types of models: goal- and time-based. Some sites charge a donor's credit card only when the goal is reached, and then it makes the money available to the person looking for the donations. If you don't hit the goal, you won't get anything, and there's typically a deadline for reaching it. The other type is driven only by deadlines. When that date arrives, the money becomes available.
Don't necessarily expect to bring in oodles of cash. For example, the education category at GoFundMe has reached 160,000 campaigns so far this year, according to The Wall Street Journal, with donations of $27.3 million. That results in a campaign average of $170.63, enough to buy maybe one textbook.
The biggest issue for most people is that you probably won't have a successful campaign if you don't market like crazy to your friends and family, which can mean becoming a pain and poster child for greed. Making this work can be tricky without finding yourself ostracized by everyone you know.
But, hey, maybe you can start a crowdsourced fund to help find new friends.