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Written by Lynn Stevenson

From time to time I embrace a vegan lifestyle. I called my favorite vegan chef to inquire about his fall meal plan. I was disturbed, and still am, when he told me he had temporarily suspended operations to concentrate on raising money for his new restaurant. What? And would I consider helping him by crowdfunding? “What is crowdfunding”, I asked. He attempted to explain it to me, but my mind was clouded by the fact that I was going to need to seek alternatives in my food journey. Still frustrated by his response, I was intrigued by the ”crowdfunding” concept and sought more information.

Crowdfunding is a hybrid of social investing and fundraising. Per the Testify Communication Blog , crowdfunding is a community investment effort in which entrepreneurs, artists, writers, politicians, and the like, ask the community to financially support their efforts. Sites such as kickstarter.com, indiegogo.com, kiva.org (where the monies collected are in the form of a loan), fundedbyme.com are providing many entrepreneurs the funding for their projects.

This graphic from Testify Communications shows is how crowdfunding works:

But wait…what does this have to do with non profits and charity? A lot. There are many crowdfunding websites available that have harnessed the power of the internet to help organizations do good work. Some of these sites are Fundraise.com, CauseVox , and Fundly. Most of these sites allow the fundraising to occur two ways; an individual can set up a site on behalf of the charities that they want to support or they allow a charity to set up a master page and allow supporters to set up tangential pages.

Of course, crowd funding won’t meet all of a non profits financial goals and there are cautions as with any internet effort; but use of this tactic can help add excitement and global exposure to a new or existing campaign. For more information on crowd funding for non profits, read The Fundraising Authority’s “How to Use Crowd-Funding Sites to Raise Money for Your Non Profit” . Also read an article by the Alliance for Non Profit Excellence entitled “Is crowdfunding an option for your nonprofit?

Was I able to find my desired meal plan? Not yet. But, I think I will set up a crowd funding site to help him get the restaurant. That way I’ll be able to avail myself of his services whenever I want!

Lynn Stevenson is a mother, owner of lds designs and a 20 year marketing professional seeking to reinvent herself while working towards her MBA at North Park University.

This post was submitted by a graduate student in the North Park University School of Business and Nonprofit Management as part of the Principles of Fundraising class. Learn more about North Park and the SBNM here.

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