Crowdfunding is a donation-specific type of crowd sourcing, which pools resources, ideas or content contributed by a large group of volunteers, traditionally through a digital platform. Project supporters pledge donations toward an overall goal, and if that goal is met, the funds are collected and the project comes to fruition. The possibilities are nearly endless, as are the websites devoted to them. Kickstarter, while not the first of its kind, may be the most well-known. Then there are other familiar sites such as Indiegogo and Crowdfunder, as well as myriad interest-based platforms. Citizinvestor, for example, is a site created specifically for municipal government agencies, and RallyMe, NLAB and Sportyfunder are all built around funding athletes, teams or other sports initiatives.
Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way to raise money for everything from medical expenses to business start-ups. Youth sports teams are among the groups that are benefiting from this Internet phenomenon.
“I think it’s a huge benefit,” said Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor at Metro State University of Denver.
Duber-Smith says community campaigns are where crowdfunding works best because the goals are clear and credible.
“You’ve got a much broader reach, not only within the community, but outside of the community,” Duber-Smith told CBS4.
“I have family all over the U.S., so they all get to help pitch in,” said Kaitlin Hyers.
Hyers plays lacrosse for the Thompson Valley High School lacrosse team. It’s truly a regional team, drawing players from 12 high schools and four school districts. They practice in Loveland, and for the girls lacrosse is worth the commitment.
“It definitely takes some time out of your day to trek all the way down here from Fort Collins, but in the end it’s worth it for something I’ve loved to play for six years,” said Katie Ufer, a senior at Rocky Mountain High School.
GoFundMe.com told CBS4 that community campaigns are exploding on its website. Last year it hosted 101,774 campaigns from youth sports, clubs, and teams, raising $12,163,976. Just three years ago there were only 1,020 campaigns by youth sports, clubs, and teams, raising $92,629. CBS4 also found hundreds of similar campaigns on other crowdfunding sites, like FundRazr, YouCaring and GiveForward.
Crowdfunding is allowing local youth groups to take their fundraising beyond the bake sale to a national platform, giving teams like the Thompson Valley High School lacrosse team a big assist.
This type of fundraising has truly hit its stride in recent years, thanks to the rise of social media and Internet interconnectivity. Yet it remains an unfamiliar concept for many, and given the proliferation of options available, it’s hard to know where to get started.