2012-10-31

Co.Exist

Want Some Cash? A Crowdfunding Platform For The Rest Of Us

Do you want to raise some money, but you’re not artistic enough to get your project on Kickstarter? When You Wish is one of a new crop of sites that let you ask people on the Internet to donate to basically anything.

A friend who just moved for the second time this year joked with me that she wishes she could Kickstart her exorbitant moving expenses. Of course, she can’t--the platform explicitly forbids "fund my life projects" in favor of creative ones--but there’s room for her on When You Wish, a crowdfunding platform that connects those with an ask with cash, for pretty much any reason.

“If you can put up a page and convince people to give you money, we think, ‘Great, go ahead and do it,’” the startup’s CTO Andy Martinez tells me. But he adds, “You’re probably not going to raise too much money if you’re just begging for it, or if it’s not clear to people what the funds are going to be used for.”

The platform has supported everyone from your typical Kickstarter users like dancers and musicians, to nonprofits looking to fundraise for a specific project, to people paying their health bills. On a sadder note, “We actually have a guy that had pancreatic cancer, and he raised a bunch of money,” says Martinez. “He’s been terminally ill. He will die soon, but he was raising money for his son.”

Beyond the openness to the type of project, When You Wish distinguishes itself from the elephant in the room--Kickstarter--by eschewing an all-or-nothing approach. Projects on Kickstarter have to hit their minimum goal to get any money at all. If someone asks for $10,000 to make a film and comes up with $8,000, the idea is that it’s impossible to make eight-tenths of a film, so the filmmaker walks away with zero.

But the rules change if it’s a charity that’s asking for money, for example. Even if a nonprofit only comes up with half of its fundraising goal, it’ll still be able to put whatever funds it gets into its operational expenses.

If that sounds too similar to Indiegogo, another crowdfunding platform that offers campaigns that aren’t all-or-nothing (called "flexible funding"), the main difference for When You Wish is the percentage that they take. Indiegogo takes a 9% fee if its fundraisers don’t hit their goal with a flexible campaign, 5% more than its standard fee, in order to encourage "people to set reasonable goals and promote their campaigns," according to Indiegogo’s website. “We just think that’s kind of arbitrary and punitive," says Martinez. "It’s not like the campaign is more expensive for them if you don’t reach your goal."

And When You Wish lets donors decide what they want to happen with their money. They elect to make either a donation--which goes to the project regardless of its fundraising success--or a pledge, which is determined by the outcome of the campaign.

When You Wish charges a flat rate of 5%, which is more than Indiegogo’s standard rate of 4% (for people who meet their goals). That doesn’t include the 3% or so that goes to PayPal for transaction fees.

Whether or not those differences will compel American users to make the switch to When You Wish, the Venice, California-based company plans to distinguish itself further by being the first crowdfunding platform to do business in Brazil. Martinez cites the country’s growing middle class and creative spirit as the reason the company decided to head there.

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