Kiva initially allowed users to lend to entrepreneurs in developing countries. However, due to the American financial crisis, the company recently extended its mandate to help US entrepreneurs gain access to micropayment loans. As millions struggle to execute on their dream projects, a number of crowd-based funding options have emerged. Below are a few of these tools.
Kickstarter: With the help of Upcoming founder Andy Baio as it's CTO, Kickstarter offers artists and designers the opportunity to raise funding from multiple donation sources. Manhattan-based Ben Smyth raised more than $3000 to install a summer wedding chapel in his storefront gallery. After donations from 49 backers, Smyth has already transformed his space and married 12 couples since his July art opening.1.
2. Spot.Us: Spot.Us harnesses "community-powered reporting" by allowing the public to commission news stories. Filmmakers and reporters pitch the public on stories, and public donors commission their favorite story ideas. In this way, environmental organizations and under-funded advocacy groups pool their resources to collectively fund issues-based investigations. If a group wants exclusive rights to a story, they must fund at least 50% of that story's production costs.
3. SellABand: SellABand helps musicians crowdsource funding for their next albums. While Bandcamp, Amie Street and MixMatchMusic allow fans to donate after tracks have been laid down, SellABand specializes in the pre-recording phase. The service offsets the high costs of studio time and sound engineering. A number of SellABand artist albums are available on Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon US and Dutch-based Bol.com.
4. Contenture: Contenture is a micropayment service that allows content creators to monetize their sites. Users pay a monthly fee and their money is distributed to the sites they visit the most. Groups like Silicon Florist and Hashtags.org use Contenture simply by adding a line of code to their sites. In this way the most popular service members earn cash for their traffic. TipJoy also offered a micropayment tipping service to content producers; however, the company unfortunately announced plans to close a few days ago.
In addition to our 4 examples, we know there are a number of professionals who are crowdsourcing their funding efforts. From TwitPay to Tipit, let us know your favorite tools and what you're working on in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Lead image courtesy of Bradley Gordon