by: Carolanne Wright, Instead of turning to big banks, the government or credit cards, creative entrepreneurs and environmental activists are using the power of numbers to realize their dreams. Enter crowd-funding. By tapping into networks of individuals, small donations finance worthy projects, businesses and ideas—even civic overhauls. And people are making a difference without breaking the bank.
Many times, projects and businesses that need capital are overly ‘alternative’ and unable to attract the attention of banks or do not fit the rigid qualifying terms of government aid. Who wants to contend with outrageous debt and interest rates anyway? A unique solution to this dilemma is crowd-funding. Anyone can participate in bringing creative, environmental or socially aware enterprises to fruition with just a little ‘seed change’—helping to support new ventures in a meaningful way. For those who back fledgling projects through crowd-funding, their efforts are often rewarded by a sense of local involvement and personal connection.
Small donations equal big returns
Some of the top crowd-funding hot spots include:
The most well-known and successful site for funding small business and large project launches. To date, Kickstarter has raised over $327 million dollars for projects ranging from an energy efficient light bulb that can be programed by smart phones to vertical indoor food gardens to a collective kitchen for artisan food chefs.
Community Funded –
Helps raise money for local projects that might otherwise be unknown or lost. A small designer realized her aspiration of a storefront to display her clothes while an independent two-screen movie theater was saved from closing—just two examples of Community Funded success stories. For those who would like to support their community but do not see a specific project of interest, an open fund is available.
Start Some Good –
Empowers social innovators around the world to realize their vision through crowd-funding capital. Fully funded projects include: “Positive Light” – a photojournalism book along with online content that encourages economic prosperity in Bangladesh through tourism; Who’s Who Wiki – a corporate transparency project in Latin America; Spur Foundation—aimed to help those at risk for suicide.
A grassroots organization that connects environmental projects with money, “bringing sunlight, open space, fresh food and greenery to our backyards.” Pioneers of crowd-resourcing—a combination of crowd-funding and resource organizing that ensures financial sustainability and success of a cause or project. ioby has raised over $380, 000 and successfully funded 162 projects. Whether planting trees and gardens, cleaning up lots or supplying fresh produce to those who need it, ioby helps fund neighborhood projects with an environmental twist.
It seems as though anyone can be a venture capitalist with crowd-funding. So use your spare change to be the change. For the cost of a double latte, socially responsible and community driven ventures can be given a much needed leg-up.