As the funds raised through crowdfunding each year increase exponentially, and the industry continues to evolve, it seems that this global phenomenon has settled in for the long haul. However, the ubiquity of crowdfunding has led to a new problem for campaigners: an ever-increasing number of platforms to choose from.
Massolution’s 2015 Crowdfunding Industry Report shows that while the top five crowdfunding platforms worldwide continue to dominate the conversation, their combined market share has dropped approximately 15% over the last three years. The report draws on data from approximately 1250 active crowdfunding platforms around the world, up from 813 platforms in 2012. For individuals or organisations with a big non-profit vision but limited time and resources to identify and compare suitable platforms, the online noise generated by this crowdfunding supermarket can be particularly overwhelming.
With new platforms being launched almost weekly, on what basis should campaigners choose among them? A prospective campaigner might start with the most established crowdfunding brands and compare service fees, or they could choose a new platform with no fees and a more compelling value proposition.
Launched in 2014, dana.io is a hybrid donation/rewards-based crowdfunding platform for artists, authors, activists and innovators seeking to serve humanity’s most pressing needs. Pitched as “mindful crowdfunding”, dana.io encourages the practice of using one’s own freedom to support the freedom of others. In doing so, it offers campaigners a more meaningful crowdfunding experience than giants like GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Justgiving.
On first hearing of the platform I was struck by the potential power of this creative collision between two trends on the rise. Like crowdfunding, the meditative practice of mindfulness is turning up everywhere, and has become a fully-fledged industry. Intrigued, I spent some time hanging out at dana.io to find out more.
Their approach to crowdfunding emphasises reciprocal gifting – money and crowdfunding are tangential to the process of “interactive dana.” Thus, the name dana.io: the unconditional (i=) incoming and (o=) outgoing of generosity or shared gifting.
Founder and former Buddhist monk Alan Clements claims dana.io is the first crowdfunding platform to operate exclusively on a voluntary payment model – there is no fee for using its services. Instead, campaigners can choose to contribute a self-nominated percentage of funds raised to sustain the dana.io platform and services. Any contributions over and above operational costs are gifted forward to support future campaigns hosted on the site.
Campaigners can accept virtual currencies and offline payments, and receive funds in real-time. They keep all funds they receive, whether they meet their funding goal or not.
My time on dana.io reminded me of the well-worn words of Gandhi, “be the change that you wish to see in the world”; dana.io empowers us to part of that change. In a time so driven by consumption, dana.io is all about giving, and it signals trust in our willingness to pay it forward. In the crowded waters of crowdfunding, dana.io is more than just another platform – it’s a lighthouse.