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Crowdsourced Funding: An Overview of 5 Money-Raising Websites

We’ve written about crowdsourcing before here at the QLP blog, but now it’s time to go deeper. If crowdsourcing for content increases brand loyalty, what does crowdsourcing for moolah do for your brand?

Well, as the Green Bay Packers proved by selling shares of Packers stock, crowd-sourced funding is an extremely effective method to get fans invested in your product. With social media and technology becoming faster than ever before and connecting more people than ever before, crowd-sourced funding is becoming much easier, accessible, and widespread.

The first site to take this concept to the web for creative purposes was ArtistShare. Founded in 2003, the site allows musicians to raise money for their latest projects. This site was the “first in fan funding,” and paved the way for many other platforms to follow.

Several other sites similar to ArtistShare have popped up over the past couple of years that encourage crowd-sourced funding. Whether users are raising money for themselves to pursue creative endeavors or fundraising for charity, there’s a site out there for everyone hoping to gain support for their cause. For most of these sites one mantra rings true: you have to give a little to get a little (or a lot!) Project creators can encourage fans to donate by offering a wide range of giveaways in exchange for each increment of donations. Creators give away everything from free downloads, to T-shirts, to personal live performances.

Here’s a run-down of five other popular crowd-sourced funding sites:

kickstarterKickstarter: With a concept similar to ArtistShare, Kickstarter provides artists and creators of all different kinds of media a platform to raise money for their projects. They describe themselves as “a new way to fund and follow creativity.”

crowdriseCrowdrise: Crowdrise is dedicated to fundraising for charity. They put the “fun” in “fundraiser.” Their tagline is, “If you don’t give back no one will like you,” which says a lot about the nature of the site. I don’t think I can describe Crowdrise as well as they can, so I’ll let them do the talking. According to their site, Crowdrise’s mission is to: “Make sure your Crowdrise experience is at least as fun as French kissing someone for the first time. We want you to be involved in the Crowdrise chaos and get slightly addicted to giving.”

indiegogoIndieGoGo: As their site proclaims, this site is for anyone and everyone. Through IndieGoGo anyone from artists, to athletes, to travelers and well diggers can fund a project. This site is like Kickstarter and Crowdrise combined, in that individuals can raise money for creative projects or for charity.

profounderProfounder: This site is targeted toward small businesses. Profounder not only provides a place to raise money for your start-up, but it also provides resources and tips to help your business grow, such as checklists and community Swap+Meets for entrepreneurs.

Based on the popularity of these sites, and the awesome creations and causes that get support from them, it’s safe to say that if your brand isn’t already participating in crowd-sourced funding, now would be a good time to start. As Kickstarter’s FAQ states, “A large group of people can be a tremendous source of money and encouragement.” And who doesn’t want that?

Check back soon for the next installment of this series, in which one of these sites is profiled through an interview! Until then, let’s hear about your experience with crowd-sourced funding. Have you supported someone else or been supported through one of these sites before?


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  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    Great run down of crowd-sourced funding platforms, Jenna!

    I’ve helped fund a couple of things on Kickstarter before (one of them being local band State and Madison). I love the site because I like feeling like I’ve helped make a difference, and you get some sweet stuff in return!

    You’re absolutely right that it helps reinforce brand loyalty. With a monetary investment, you’re also emotionally invested in seeing if the band/artist/company/product will actually succeed.

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Mandy!

      I think local bands that are using Kickstarter are smart. I know some bands see it as an “easy way out,” compared with simply playing shows and selling merch, but I think that if the fans are willing to contribute funds, why not let them? It’s great that you’ve supported State and Madison through Kickstarter. I need to start supporting some of my favorite artists!

      That is a good point. When you are personally invested, you want to see the person/group you’re invested in succeed, so you’re more likely to encourage your friends to help!

  2. Alex Brodsky

    I had no idea any of these websites even existed. Your post has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities for my own personal projects, as well as professional projects in the future.

    Kickstarter will probably be the first one I check out.

    Cool post

    • Jenna Markowski

      I’m glad I could open your eyes to the world of crowd-sourced funding, Alex!

      Thanks for reading, and good luck with your crowd-sourced funding endeavors! 🙂

  3. Jaimie Smith

    Jenna, this was such a great post! You did such a nice job on it! Crowdrise sounds awesome!! “Make sure your Crowdrise experience is at least as fun as French kissing someone for the first time. We want you to be involved in the Crowdrise chaos and get slightly addicted to giving.” What a great mission! Very interesting way of putting it for sure, but it gets their point across in a fun and upbeat way!

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Jaimie! The way Crowdrise works is really interesting. Their whole site makes giving to charity sort of like a competition, and it works! They’ve gotten people all around the world to come together and raise tons of money for a good cause. Plus, everything on their site is entertaining to read. It’s a win-win!

  4. Eric

    I’m all for this. I think it’d be exciting to know you’re contributing to an artist (writer, what have you) whose work you enjoy. It’s nice to see this kind of funding available. Grant-writing can be a tricky process, and that’s why some folks just have full-time grant writers. This is a whole lot more accessible, provided you can attract the attention and interest of possible investors. Neat post, Jenna. Like Alex, I never even knew these sites existed!

    • Jenna Markowski

      Good point, Eric. A lot of these sites depend on other social networking sites as a means to get the word out about any given fundraiser. Crowd-sourced funding sites combined with the powers of social media today can lead to a huge boost in funds for the little guys.

      Thanks, Eric! 🙂

  5. Rachel

    I think Kickstarter is the only one of these sites that I had heard of before, and I have heard lots of great things about it. Spot.Us sounds especially neat! I had never really thought about the money that goes into researching and breaking a big story. How cool that Spot.Us lets you give funds to independent journalists!

    Great post, Jenna! And I’m looking forward to finding out who you interviewed. 🙂

    • Jenna Markowski

      Before writing this post Kickstarter and Spot.Us were the only ones I had heard of. It’s really great that there is pretty much a crowd-sourced funding site for any niche.

      As a journalist myself, I am especially intrigued with Spot.Us. With a lot of the big news organizations falling by the wayside, community journalism is becoming increasingly popular. This site allows any given writer or community the opportunity to raise the funds for the stories that they want to see!

      Thanks, Rachel! 🙂

  6. amy

    I’ve searched through the Kickstarter posts a few times, but haven’t given money to anything (I know, I know I’m a horrible person!!) The other sites are all new to me, but I love how chill and low-key Crowdrise is. Way to make giving money away fun and in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Very nice!

    Great job, Jenna! Can’t wait to read your interview!!

    • Jenna Markowski

      I’m in the same boat as you, Amy! I’ve even written this whole blog about crowd-sourced funding, but I haven’t actually funded anything yet. I am excited to start contributing, though! That low-key vibe that Crowdrise has is exactly what makes their site work! People get involved because it’s fun.

      Thanks, Amy!

  7. Jill Tooley

    Crowdrise is so funny! I want to give their writers a big group hug. This is an excellent rundown of crowdsourced funding sites! I’ve used Kickstarter for a little while now, usually to find and support interesting local bands or artists. The search function itself is my only real gripe so far — unless I know exactly which artist I want to fund, I have to aimlessly scroll through pages of results until something catches my eye. I wish they had a “if you funded this project, you may also like this project” function so my perusing would be a little more targeted to my interests!

    • Jenna Markowski

      I agree, Jill! And thanks! 🙂

      You bring up an interesting point, and I’m actually surprised that they don’t have a feature like that already! However, I guess not doing so can broaden your horizons and encourage you to donate/get interested in a subject that you didn’t even know you liked!

  8. Jen

    Great post Jenna! I can’t wait to find out who you interviewed, the suspense is killing me, lol.

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Jen! Haha, don’t worry! You’ll know in good time…like right now.

  9. Austin Samuel

    Thanks for the great info, Jenna!

    We are thinking of creative ways to raise money for our project on the Mississippi River ( and are happy to learn more about profounder and!

    I’ve heard it said, money follows passion. Not the other way around. We are hoping they are right!

  10. Pia

    Nice review… I came across yesterday – looks new and interesting for environmental projects. Wondering how many such platforms there are. is another which allows for a wide variety of reasons to fund raise.

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