With nationwide conversations about crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, its also important to notice creative use of new media fundraising on the homefront – where St. Louisans get to collectively choose the project they think our community needs, and act as everyday philanthropists to make it happen.
St. Louis-based crowdfunding platforms seem to fall into two basic categories: Supporting Entrepreneurs/Start-Up Business Investment, and Grassroots Community Development.
1. Supporting Entrepreneurs/Business Investment
Rally St. Louis – http://www.rallystl.org/
Rally Saint Louis launched November 14th, 2012
Rally STL is a grassroots funding platform for ideas to impact St. Louis. Ideas are submitted to Rally STL, and then voted on by the public. The top 5 ideas receiving the highest votes each month will be selected to move into the “funding phase”, where the general public can pledge dollars towards the project’s fundraising goal. Unless the fundraising goal is met, pledging donors are not charged for their contributions. Once an idea is fully funded, the Board of Rally STL (made up of prominent community members) solicits three bid responses to implement the project. The idea-contributor can offer input to the decision, but does not have exclusive rights to the implementation of the idea.
While not publicized, it appears that Rally St. Louis grew out of Fund St. Louis (http://fundstlouis.org/).
SoMoLend – https://www.somolend.com/
SoMoLend is a peer-to-peer lending company that provides business owners with the platform to raise money from investors or friends and family members looking to make a return on debt. “Entrepreneurs fill out a loan application and create a SoMoLend profile; local lenders connect with entrepreneurs to request more information and make loan offers. Entrepreneurs get funding and lenders are repaid with interest.” Businesses seeking loans are mapped using a GPS tracking system, so investors can invest directly in their communities.
OverFundIt – http://overfundit.com/
OverFundIt is based in Fresno, CA, and is the in planning stages of opening operations in the St. Louis community. OverFundIt is a community-specific platform for crowdfunding projects within a two-week fundraising window. Contributors can donate ‘conditional’ or ‘unconditional’ funds; conditional funds typically call for a match from other donors in the network, while unconditional funds do not. Unless the fundraising goal is met, pledging donors are not charged for their contributions. Most contributions are not tax-deductible.
2. Grassroots Community Development
Brickstarter STL – http://brickstarterstl.com/
In response to community conversations about building preservation and restoration in St. Louis, BrickStarter is a crowdsourcing platform for preservation projects. Brickstarter is currently doing their first project with Old North Restoration Group. Future projects have not yet been determined.
InveSTL – http://www.investl.org/
InveSTL was launched in September 2012.
InveSTL is a charitable fund at the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation dedicated to supporting the development of great neighborhoods in the St. Louis region. InveSTL engages in fundraising; 25% of the fundraising goal is given as grants to community projects, selected by voting InveSTL members (who have contributed $100 or more in a calendar year). The remaining 75% of the fundraising goal is placed in a permanent community building fund at the GSLCF.
Sloup – http://www.stlsloup.com/
Sloup is a grassroots, monthly soup dinner in St. Louis, MO, that supports projects, primarily artistic or communicative. One Sunday a month, soup is donated by a local restaurant; attendees donate a suggested $10 for a bowl of soup, which is compiled into a small grant. Artists or small creative businesses submit grant proposals to the group of attendees, who then vote on the winner to receive the funds collected.
Are there other crowdfunding platforms that we’re not aware of? Let us know! Special thanks to Nicole’s blog post on a related topic, for revealing some of the less visible crowd-funding platforms.