Imagine you have a great idea to improve your community, but don’t know how it would resonate with your peers and how to go about funding it.
Meet FunderHut, a recently launched community-oriented crowdfunding platform based in the Chicago area. In addition to offering crowdfunding across a number of categories, FunderHut allows its users to pitch ideas to the Community Wishlist. Others can vote on and discuss the pitches; if enough people find an idea appealing, its creator can turn the pitch into a crowdfunding campaign.
FunderHut’s co-founder Alan Salganik said this focus on local communities first came to him when he noticed a lack of benches in downtown Chicago.
“We started thinking about other problems and realized that a lot of these problems exist because there isn’t really a forum where people can go and post problems, and then actually fund them,” he told Crowdsourcing.org. “That’s why we combined crowdfunding with an online forum, which is our Community Wishlist.”
Salganik believes this can help to increase engagement within communities and to fund projects that the public actually cares about. He gave the example of his own community – a suburb of Chicago – where town hall meetings don’t draw enough of an audience to be truly representative. By moving this forum online, Salganik hopes more people will participate in pubic discussions.
FunderHut offers both fixed (all or nothing) and variable (keep what you raise) funding models. The fees it takes depend on the success of a campaign and the funding model the campaign owner has chosen. If a campaign meets its funding goal (for both fixed and variable models), FunderHut takes 5 percent of the money raised; if a variable campaign fails to meet its goal, the platform takes 7.5 percent.
The platform is young, having launched in December; thus far, it has hosted roughly a dozen projects. Salganik says the platform is open to a wide variety of campaigns across numerous categories (from “Business and Entrepreneurship” and “Design” to “Community Renaissance” and “Medical Tourism”), as long as there is a community aspect to them.
While the platform can be used anywhere in the U.S., the majority of projects have so far come from the Chicago area. The FunderHut team wants to be as hands on as possible with the campaigns it hosts. Salganik said that his team personally met with each of the Chicago-based project creators on the platform. This increases the quality of the projects on the platform, he said, but also makes the platform tougher to scale.
Currently, Salganik and his team are focused on finding investors, increasing awareness around their platform, and recruiting new members. To help expand its user base, FunderHut is looking to partner with local groups, companies, and organizations. Recently, for example, the platform partnered with CEI Media Group, a digital media solutions firm that is greatly involved within its community.
One of FunderHut’s long-term goals, the co-founder said, is to expand the Community Wishlist “almost into its own social network.” Another is to form partnerships with local governments. This, Salganik noted, can help not only citizens looking to effect change within their neighborhoods, but it can also puts government officials closer to their constituents. A fitting goal indeed for a platform whose motto is "Finding unity by funding community."
To learn more about FunderHut, check out the video below:
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