Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and of alternative finance. In 2015, it was estimated that worldwide over US$34 billion was raised this way.
Although the concept can also be executed through mail-order subscriptions, benefit events, and other methods, it is now often performed via Internet-mediated registries. This modern crowdfunding model is generally based on three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded, individuals or groups who support the idea, and a moderating organization (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch the idea.
Crowdfunding has been used to fund a wide range for-profit entrepreneurial ventures such as artistic and creative projects, medical expenses, travel, or community-oriented social entrepreneurship projects.
Reward-based crowdfunding has been used for a wide range of purposes, including motion picture promotion, free software development, inventions development, scientific research, and civic projects.
Many characteristics of rewards-based crowdfunding, also called non-equity crowdfunding, have been identified by research studies. In rewards-based crowdfunding, funding does not rely on location. The distance between creators and investors on Sellaband was about 3,000 miles when the platform introduced royalty sharing. The funding for these projects is distributed unevenly, with a few projects accounting for the majority of overall funding. Additionally, funding increases as a project nears its goal, encouraging what is called “herding behavior”. Research also shows that friends and family account for a large, or even majority, portion of early fundraising. This capital may encourage subsequent funders to invest in the project. While funding does not depend on location, observation shows that funding is largely tied to the locations of traditional financing options. In reward-based crowdfunding, funders are often too hopeful about project returns and must revise expectations when returns are not met. Read more about Reward-Based Crowdfunding.
Equity crowdfunding is the collective effort of individuals to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations through the provision of finance in the form of equity. In the United States, legislation that is mentioned in the 2012 JOBS Act will allow for a wider pool of small investors with fewer restrictions following the implementation of the act. Unlike nonequity crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding contains heightened “information asymmetries”. The creator must not only produce the product for which they are raising capital, but also create equity through the construction of a company. Syndicates, which involve many investors following the strategy of a single lead investor, can be effective in reducing information asymmetry and in avoiding the outcome of market failure associated with equity crowdfunding. Read more about Equity-Based Crowdfunding.
Debt-based crowdfunding (also known as “peer to peer”, “P2P”, “marketplace lending”, or “crowdlending”) arose with the founding of Zopa in the UK in 2005 and in the US in 2006, with the launches of Lending Club and Prosper.com. Borrowers apply online, generally for free, and their application is reviewed and verified by an automated system, which also determines the borrower’s credit risk and interest rate. Investors buy securities in a fund which makes the loans to individual borrowers or bundles of borrowers. Investors make money from interest on the unsecured loans; the system operators make money by taking a percentage of the loan and a loan servicing fee. In 2009, institutional investors entered the P2P lending arena; for example in 2013, Google invested $125 million in Lending Club. In 2014 in the US, P2P lending totalled about $5 billion. In 2014 in the UK, P2P platforms lent businesses £749 million, a growth of 250% from 2012 to 2014, and lent retail customers £547 million, a growth of 108% from 2012 to 2014. :23 In both countries in 2014, about 75% of all the money transferred through crowdfunding went through P2P platforms. Lending Club went public in December 2014 at a valuation around $9 billion. Debt crowdfunding in the U.S. has further evolved with the May 16, 2016 enactment of Title III of the JOBS Act, which allows unaccredited investors to invest directly in private businesses through regulated Funding Portals or Broker-Dealers. Read more about Debt-Based Crowdfunding.
Charity donation-based crowdfunding is the collective effort of individuals to help charitable causes. A form of charity crowdfunding is civic crowdfunding, in which funds are raised to enhance public life and space. Read more about Donation-Based Crowdfunding.