Crowdfunding 101
Crowdfunding 101

by Bev Bachel

The first Maya Angelou documentary. Fresh and clean water for city dogs.

Raising hope in Zaatari refugee camp.

If you and your family are looking to make a difference and help others make their dreams come true, you may want to consider investing in one of these projects. They are just three of the thousands of projects you and your family will find on today’s popular crowdfunding websites.

What exactly is crowdfunding?

“It’s a way for you to join other supporters in helping someone — for instance, an artist, musician or entrepreneur — raise the money he or she needs to complete a project near and dear to his or her heart,” explains Julie Swenson, owner of My Media Practice Solutions, a social media company in Minneapolis, Minn. Swenson, her husband and their 8-year-old daughter enjoy supporting crowdfunding projects and encourage other families to consider supporting them as well.

“Whatever your family is interested in, you can find great examples of people innovating and making a difference,” she says. But what she really values is the lessons crowdfunding delivers. “Kids today can sometimes feel that all they need to succeed is a wish-granting fairy godmother, but crowdfunding showcases people making their dreams come true through hard work and determination. It’s problem solving for the real world.”

Crowdfunding also demonstrates just how quickly small contributions can add up to something significant when people work together for the greater good.

When making donations, here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1. How much money you donate and which projects you donate to is totally up to you.

    2. Many sites offer rewards as a way of thanking you for your donation. Those rewards are as diverse as the projects themselves, and include everything from a shout-out during a live concert you helped fund to a hot-off-the press autographed copy of a book you helped print.

    3. Some sites are all-or-nothing, meaning that the project must reach its full funding goal in order to receive any money, while other sites release funds even if the funding goal wasn’t reached.

Here are three popular crowdfunding sites, all of which you can learn more about on Top Ten Reviews, a site dedicated to presenting independent, reliable information to help people make more well-informed spending decisions:


If you’re looking to help someone else bring their ideas to life, this is the site for you. Ideas range from wooden business cards to ecofriendly athletic apparel, from a superheroes mural to an autism surf camp. You’ll also find a variety of events, including concerts, fundraisers, weddings and even vacations.


Art. Comics. Crafts. Fashion. Games. Photography. These are just some of the diverse categories of creative projects you’ll find on Kickstarter, which now boasts a community of more than 9 million people from all over the world, many of whom — in addition to donating money — also offer valuable support, suggestions and feedback.


This crowdfunding site caters specifically to art, business, science and social projects and, thanks to its partnership with A+E Networks, RocketHub offers something unique: airtime and magazine coverage to select projects it considers particularly noteworthy.


Freelance writer Bev Bachel lives in Minneapolis and uses her phone to talk, text and email friends and family around the world. She’s the author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go For It!

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