With journalism in the process of finding sustainable business models, some have turned to one of the most popular but most risky ways of raising funds - crowdfunding.
Setting up a campaign to fund your latest journalism project has never been easier, with a range of different platforms to raise money, but the challenge of finding the most suitable one for you and reaching your target remains.
Journalism.co.uk has put together a list of crowdfunding platforms to launch your next reporting project.
One of the most well-known crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter has seen over 17 million people back almost half a million projects since its launch in 2009.
The website features a specific journalism category, with over 5,600 such projects launched on the platform, particularly podcasts.
However, it is worth noting that funding for projects are all-or-nothing and, according to Kickstarter’s statistics, only 23 per cent of such projects succeed. As well as this, Kickstarter applies a five per cent fee to the collected funds of successful projects.
In recent years, the journalism industry has seen a few examples of successful crowdfunding on Kickstarter, including slow journalism startup Tortoise in 2018 - and some unsuccessful campaigns too by investigative journalism startup Point.
Patreon, popular amongst YouTube creators, podcasters and writers, allows journalists to fund their projects through a subscription-based service, as opposed to one-time donations.
Users can choose from different ‘membership levels’ with creators providing a range of different benefits depending on the amount each subscriber pays.
The platform has specific categories for podcasters, as well as writers and journalists.
If starting out on Patreon, bear in mind that the platform receives a percentage of the income you make through membership - this can range from five to 12 per cent.
Crowdfunder aims to give people a platform to make an impact in their community, and has helped raise over £60 million for start-ups and a variety of different projects.
Most recently, journalism initiative PressPad used the platform to successfully raise money for its #DiversifyTheMedia project.
In almost all cases, Crowdfunder charge a three per cent fee on donations received, along with payment processing fees and VAT.
Whilst the platform does not have a specific category for journalism projects, it does have one for publishing.
For projects that are community-based, Crowdfunder can offer up to £20,000 in extra funding for projects from partners they work with. To do this, campaigners will need to make an application for a relevant fund and, once an agreed percentage of the fundraising target is reached, one of the Crowdfunder’s partners can boost the total with a donation.
Rather than creating a campaign for people to donate to, Google Contributor allows users to pay to remove advertising on participating websites, as another way of generating revenue.
Individuals who are signed up with Google Contributor can subscribe to a participating website, and each time they visit a page of that website ads are removed automatically and a fee deducted for the publication.
Publishers are able to set their own per-page fee and adapt it for local currencies.
Contributor does not change how advertising is displayed for non-Contributor users or those who have not ‘subscribed’ to your website.
The service has limited availability at present, being restricted to Australia, Canada, the United States, the UK and the European Union.
Since 2015, Facebook has offered the ability to donate to charities and non-profit organisations, with more than $2 billion raised.
Setting up a fundraiser on the social media platform is easy to do, with options to raise money for an organisation or for yourself. Facebook does not charge fees for donations to charitable organisations but a charge of between one and three per cent is taken on donations to ‘personal’ fundraisers.
However, this route may not be suitable for every journalism organisation, as Facebook’s fundraising tools are only available to non-profit or charitable organisations in certain countries.
Similar to Patreon, Ko-fi provides a platform for creators and organisations to fundraise for projects, by encouraging people to donate a small one-off amount equal to the price of a coffee (hence the name).
The platform does not take a cut from donations received, but offers a ‘Gold’ membership for fundraisers with added features, including analytics and the ability to offer monthly subscriptions to contributors and set the price of donations. Upgrading to ‘Gold’ costs $9 (roughly £7.00) a month.
Note: This article was originally published in November 2014. It has been updated on 15 January 2020 to include new platforms and to remove discontinued platforms.
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