The crowdfunding world is booming. Crowdfunding sites that raise small sums from dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of individuals are being used for everything from charitable causes to launching new businesses to political misadventures. Most recently, Kickstarter, the American-based market leader, has finally opened its doors in Canada.
But most of these sites have shared a common approach: All the fundraising happens on the crowdfunding site. Campaigns get their own page on Indiegogo or Kickstarter, for example, and anyone wishing to donate to the cause has to visit to take part, either by following an eagerly-promoted link, or by landing on the crowdfunding site's homepage and exploring from there. Getting promoted on a crowdfunding site's homepage is a sought-after promotional prize.
FundRazr, though, wants to take the next step, and let organizations put crowdfunding widgets right into their own webpages. In and of itself, it's hardly a revolutionary idea – it's akin to what PayPal has done for many years – but it's a novelty in the crowdfunding world, which has stuck largely to its own sites.
"We've taken our platform and made it available to other people as a service," says Mr. Hatton. Embedding crowdfunding on an organization's own site means not losing traffic and attention to crowdfunding sites by sending visitors away to an external campaign page. Campaigns can also run longer than the 60-days-or-bust limits prescribed by some sites.
"It's about building your brand rather than building Indiegogo's brand," adds Mr. Hatton. "You're sending all your traffic to Indiegogo."
Founded in 2010, and based in Vancouver with a 16-person team, FundRazr is smaller than its American competitors, but growing, raising $35-million in the last three years, and $20-million of that in the last year alone.
At the moment, the sites that FundRazr promotes lean more towards philanthropic pursuits: Individuals seeking medical care, memorials, and animal rescue causes; a list that Mr. Hatton hopes will broaden as they push into the service space.
"With crowdfunding as a service, it's going to take us into a bunch of other markets," he says.
For the time being, the embeddable fundraising functionality will be available only by arrangement with the company; it's planning to roll it out with a few major partners first to ensure its scalability before turning it into a self-serve option. Among its first partners: the SETI – Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – program, a star-scanning effort that's long been a classic example of harnessing crowds (and their computers) in an attempt to scan the stars for life. Boldly going into new markets, indeed.