Confused about Crowdsourcing?

Published on LinkedIn Influencers on September 10, 2013.

While the term crowdsourcing wasn’t officially coined until the year 2006, the practice of soliciting financial or labor contributions from a group of people in order to complete a project dates back to the 18th century and the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. However, crowdsourcing has only recently taken off as both a mainstream and legitimate form of fundraising due to the prevalence of the Internet and the extensive reach the Internet offers people to appeal directly to their intended audience.

Along with the rise of crowdsourcing is the advent of crowdfunding, a type of crowdsourcing specific to fundraising that is unique to today’s digital age. Project campaigns are published online, and backers can donate or invest in the projects in return for equity, shares, rewards, and/or perks. Crowdfunding has seen exponential growth in the past several years; some have forecast a revolution of the business models of certain industries, while others claim the revolution is already underway. Regardless, it is clear that crowdfunding offers anyone with access to the Internet the opportunity to chase their dreams in a manner unparalleled in previous years.

What has made crowdfunding so successful is that it represents a new form of democracy in the way projects are chosen and funded, and nearly everyone can have a say. Many campaigns offer rewards to backers who donate a minimum of just one dollar, meaning you don’t have to be rich to participate in a project you feel particularly passionate about, and more importantly, you become part of the process of supporting the projects you hold most dear. While the websites Kickstarter and Indiegogo may be the most popular and well known sites for crowdfunding, there are hundreds of online hubs offering this service, each catering to a different need and market. Crowdrise raises money specifically for charities, while appbackr raises money for app development, and MicroVentures provides invest opportunities in start-up businesses. These specialty sites are on the rise each trying to find their own audience of supporters. Please feel fee to share your favorite in the comment section!

One particular site that directly appeals to my passion regarding supporting women and girls is Catapult, a site solely dedicated to helping create a gender equal world. Developed in 2011 by the organization Women Deliver, Catapult is for projects that specifically promote the advancement of women and girls worldwide, with projects falling into numerous categories such as Advocacy, Human Trafficking, Reproductive Rights, and many more. Additionally, Catapult has a team of Curators who spotlight projects and raise awareness for campaigns, and current Curators include Beyonce Knowles, Madonna, Salma Hayek, Melinda Gates, John Legend, Olivia Wilde, Jada Pinkett Smith, Maria Bello, Halle Berry, Alicia Keys, and Abigail E. Disney. The curators often match the donations which leverages your giving dollars.

Corporations are finding creative ways to partner with these platforms and a powerful example is GUCCI, who partnered with CATAPULT, and created CHIME FOR CHANGE. Their SOUND OF CHANGE live concert raised almost $4mm to support 210 projects for girls and women across the globe. Unique partnerships like this one are truly democratizing philanthropy and giving the philanthropic power to the people.

The rise of crowdfunding has the potential to create a new model of philanthropy and giving, one that is fully customizable to donors’ values, financial abilities, and vision. With the ability to invest directly in the projects and causes in which you believe, you can be instrumental in creating a world that falls in line with your beliefs and values. While I will continue to use my resources to advocate for equal rights between men and women, people all over the globe can use their resources to make a difference in this world any way they want. And amazingly, this is all available with just the click of a mouse.

With editorial support from Laura Moore