What do crowd surfing and crowdfunding have in common?  It takes a lot of people to help another reach a goal.  In crowd surfing, a whole bunch of arms lift up to help carry a Unless someone like you cares....person across the crowd.  In crowdfunding, a whole bunch of arms reach out to help a person, group, or business get to the other side of its goals.

Crowdfunding is used to raise money from a lot of different people to fund a project.  Usually, those who give money either get some type of benefit, like the product or service that is being launched or equity in the business. Some crowdfunding sites are used for charitable purposes, so giving is what you get, and usually, a heart felt thank you.

Here are some of my favorite crowdfunding sites.  My husband and I have given money to different causes through each of them, and if you’re looking for a new way for a feel-good moment or just want to be in on up-and-coming projects, I encourage you to give it a try.

Kickstarter is probably one of the most recognizable sites.  Its tagline of ‘Bring Creative Projects to Life,’ shows its focus on the arts, especially in art, design, music, and film, like the recent Veronica Mars film, which had a goal of two million and raised over five million.   One of its projects, The Coolest Cooler, set a new Kickstarter record for investments, getting $13,285,226.00—my husband backed this project and is waiting for his cooler.  Project creators must set a minimum funding goal and deadline. If the minimum is not met by the deadline, the project goes unfunded.  Kickstarter doesn’t take the money for a project until it is funded.

Indiegogo has been helping people reach their goals since 2008.  Unlike Kickstarter, there is no application process, and there are no guidelines for what is or is not appropriate.  Some people raise money for themselves, their medical bills, their projects, or even for non-profits.  Indiegogo also allows for flexible or fixed funding. Flexible funding means you still get whatever money is raised, even if you didn’t meet your goal.  Solar Roadways was a project that I helped fund, which raised over two million dollars against their goal of one million.

GoFundMe says it’s the number one crowdfunding site for personal causes and life events.  Categories include medical, emergencies, and charities, among others.  Currently, GoFundMe is also the most visited crowdfunding site.

DonorsChoose doesn’t call itself a crowdfunding site, just a charity, but the concept is the same.  Funding for public school education is so low that many teachers buy their own supplies in order to ensure that kids get the best education.  With DonorsChoose, teachers can request help, and you can fund requests in any subject, such as art or science.  Or you can buy books, fund field trips, or buy electronic equipment and other items.  It’s up to you.  As in all crowdfunding sites, your donation is combined with others to buy the supplies.  Unlike other sites, DonorsChoose buys the supplies and ships them to the classroom.  Each project request is fully vetted by the site as well.  I’ve helped to fund the same kindergarten teacher two years in a row and, at Christmas, last year, selected a project to give to as a gift in another’s name.

You can go to Crowdfunding to find the top ten sites by visitor rank.  The list includes other sites that are not noted above because I’ve shared the ones that I’ve used and continue to use.  Find a site that fits you and join with others to help a worthy cause!