There are no free lunches in this world. And in our times, the word free generates more suspicions and doubts than happiness. However, one gets surprised at the availability of such free stuff every once in a while. Take for instance the emergence of free crowdfunding platforms in the world.
These free or no-fee platforms have some heartening stories behind their conception that are aimed at making life (and fundraising) easier. They have a very clear agenda — saving the precious donor dollars of fundraisers so as to make a greater impact or touch more lives. A lot of this free fundraising is in the non-profit or third sector, which makes the movement all the more important.
One of the most interesting parts of these “free lunches” is the stories of their cooks.
A Mission Trip That Launched YouCaring
An early entrant into the free fundraising scenario was YouCaring, which started its journey in 2011. The three founders Brock Ketcher, Naomi Ketcher and Luke Miner started the platform. The three youngsters had returned home after spending two years on mission trips abroad. What they saw during these trips had a huge impact. They resolved to continue helping people in distress. The result was a free fundraising platform aimed to help students raise tuition and other costs. With requests of hosting medical and charitable fundraisers, they decided to expand their horizons soon. As it does not charge fundraisers, YouCaring depends entirely on the generosity of donors, who opt to support them while making a donation to one of the campaigns.
The ‘Freemium’ Tilt Model
In 2014, Tilt foraged into the waters of “free lunches”. However, they used a ‘freemium’ model wherein collecting money from one’s own groups and for debit card users. This meant that personal needs of fundraisers could be done over the website for no cost at all. Well, this excludes credit card users who still had to pay the processing charges. Meanwhile, other types of fundraisers would pay a 2.5 per cent service charge. This is an amount they highlight as the “lowest in the industry”.
As recently as 2015, Indiegogo also forayed into the free fundraising arena through Generosity, calling it a means of socially conscious fundraising. Even before this move, they were giving a 25 per cent discount to non-profit and charity fundraisers. About the need to launch Generosity, Team Indiegogo had said: “And because human goodness shouldn’t have limits, Generosity is free of the fees common to most personal and nonprofit fundraising sites, so more money goes straight to the causes you care about most.” Like YouCaring, voluntary donations from donors help Generosity pay the bills.
Crowdera: Where Abundance Starts With Giving
It was a similar sense of goodness that led to the birth of Crowdera in 2014. This platform waive off fundraisers’ service fees. Unlike YouCaring and Generosity, the donors on Crowdera are not prompted to give anything to the platform. In their words, they are the first truly free fundraising platform that does not dip into donor dollars. It is a philanthropic endeavour by its founder, who believes that “Abundance Starts With Giving.” Headquartered in Menlo Park, CA, this new entrant on the block has just come up with a global website, having completed its beta phase last year. In a very short time, this platform has gained favor with several nonprofits and cause-based fundraisers in US and India, the two countries where the beta platforms were run. They are now ready to serve fundraisers across the world.
There are a whole bunch of smaller and niche platforms that too provide their services free of cost. Let’s take the example of PinkStart that is free to use for nonprofits working for the LGBT community. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s GiveSendGo that calls itself the Christian crowdfunding site and allows raising funds for any “God Adventure”. While Booster, a subsidiary of CustomInk, allows nonprofits to raise funds about their cause by giving out custom T-shirts to their donors.
This is one bandwagon we hope more service providers would jump into. And though nobody may be offering free lunches, we could all raise funds for several free lunches on platforms like these. Here’s wishing that other industries take a leaf out of the crowdfunding sector to make the world a kinder place.