At 24, Grant Waller has overcome more medical hardships than most of us can even comprehend. But despite being born with a genetic defect that affected nearly every major organ and caused him to undergo over 40 surgeries, he continues to tackle life head-on with a smile on his face.
So when Grant’s kidney failed earlier this year and his twin brother Griffin offered to donate one of his, their mother Caren started a fundraiser for her sons.
Two weeks before deadline, the fundraiser had already raised 98 percent of its $30,000 goal, after the brothers’ family and friends made over 300 donations.
The community and support found on this fundraising page is remarkable. But only a short decade ago, before online crowdfunding really took off, such instances of human kindness would have been infinitely more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
Crowdfunding through the years
Crowdfunding refers to the practice of eliciting donations from a group to raise money towards a single goal, and it’s been around a lot longer than you’d think.
Since the 19th century, it’s been used as a technique to raise large amounts of money relatively quickly: One of the first recorded examples of crowdfunding was in 1885 when Joseph Pulitzer asked his newspaper’s readers to help finance the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.
Now fast-forward a couple hundred years and the concept of crowdfunding has been revamped and upgraded, finding new lifeblood on the web and becoming an important 21st century buzzword.
Why all the buzz?
Aside from the media hype surrounding crowdfunding these days, the actual impact online crowdfunding has had on fundraising is huge.
Just think about how people went about fundraising before the internet – organizing offline events to reach an unknown number of people without knowing how effective their efforts would be.
Crowdfunding isn’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to fundraising. Instead it uses modern technology to make fundraising more efficient. Here are some reasons it’s been so successful:
- Collecting small donations from many people raises large sums of money. It’s simple: power in numbers is the inherent genius of crowdfunding, maximizing benefit with minimum effort from individuals.
- Social media has significantly expanded individuals’ social webs. By tapping into your online social networks, you can spread your message with speed and efficiency, reaching more people than traditional fundraising.
- Increased interactivity forms community. Friends and family can easily post personalized messages of support and encouragement on fundraising pages.
- Online payment systems have been streamlined, making it easier than ever to donate to an online fundraiser. Crowdfunding sites collect and deliver payments for you.
All these improvements have made it possible to raise money more easily than ever before. But this is only the quantitative way crowdfunding has made fundraising easier and overall better.
Using the surplus of technology available to us today, society has transformed crowdfunding into a vehicle of hope for people going through a tough time, or those who have a dream they need help achieving.
Crowdfunding is responsible for things from introducing the world to the first 3D pen to helping Justin Salcedo beat cancer. It has the potential to continue to do great things for humanity, from nurturing human creativity to fostering human generosity and kindness.
By bringing people together digitally to work towards a common goal, crowdfunding has made dreams more attainable than ever before, restoring faith in many people, like James Fulbright, who may have felt lost otherwise.
James, whose friend started a fundraiser for him after he broke his back in a boating accident, said the comments and donations from his friends and family helped lift his spirits during a particularly dark time in his recovery.
“…it has literally given me a better outlook on the world at large and humanity. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but seeing how people come together for one another the way they have for me has restored my faith in humanity,” he wrote in an email to GiveForward.
The bottom line: Crowdfunding has opened new doors for fundraising, creating an online community of people who give – be it to make people’s dreams come true, or to help a friend in need. And say what you want about the evils of technology, but that is pretty freaking awesome.