THE BLOG
03/04/2014 04:31 pm ET Updated May 04, 2014

Crowdfunding Gets Personal

When it comes to crowdfunding, I'm fascinated by its current micro-level impact as well as the yet-to-be-determined macro-level impact. We have witnessed the evolution of empowering the individual around cause, from content to technology, and now to commerce. With the advent of social media, people have the power to become their own media source -- as Ashton Kutcher first validated by challenging CNN in 2009 with the premise that one person could be a media property. Just like in any medium, technology advancements now enable consumers to form their own individual brands and digital networks with never having to meet any of their fans and followers in real life. This phenomenon has set the stage for nonprofits to begin using such innovations to yield the benefits through digital donations. But the evolution hasn't stopped there, with the emergence of crowdfunding platforms, President Obama's JOBS act, and the pattern of consumer behavior embracing online giving, individuals are now able to tap into this stream and lives are being changed, one at a time.

A perfect example is SuperTaylor.com. As featured in a recent U.S. News & World Report, with an individual dealing with the circumstances surrounding his cancer, using innovation, storytelling and fundraising. 2014-03-03-ScreenShot20140303at4.35.41PM.png
At 36 years old, his discovery of cancer preceded him getting life insurance. (A societal norm for long-term security). Now, in a storm of clinical trials, medical treatments and maintaining his daily job; he's pounded by the stress of potentially leaving behind his family, a new wife and a newborn baby, with a financial burden. He scrambles to make his business more efficient and sustainable to provide a revenue stream to his family. (Another great societal mechanism of free enterprise, and ability to change your financial destiny.) He researches to establish the legal parameters for taking care of his family. Next he is provided with the notion of crowdfunding. (A new mechanism that will change the landscape of the individual support.)

A process that used to require significant time, energy and capital setting up a 501c3 to accept donations for direct expenses associated with life events, he is now empowered as an individual to raise money to fill the gap left by the life insurance debacle. He set up a trust fund for his son and put up a page on Rockethub to fuel the fund with donations from friends and strangers alike.

As a father, and by knowing this story intimately, I am touched by the need and inspired by the ability for more Americans to take on life's challenges through the advancement of such mechanisms as crowdfunding. As a marketing professional in the social impact space, I am inspired with seeing examples of individuals and causes that empower people with an opportunity to change lives, compounded by innovation and storytelling. I am curious and optimistic about how this will affect the nonprofit sector at large, but have my assumptions. I am hopeful for the impact on individuals like Taylor.

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