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by Mike Vestil 

What Are The Types Of Crowdfunding I How Does It Work

Crowdfunding is a rapidly growing industry that has revolutionized the way entrepreneurs and creatives in need of financing gather funds for their projects. It is a form of fundraising that leverages the power of the internet to connect investors, or backers, with individuals or organizations in need of capital.

There are various types of crowdfunding available, each tailored to meet the needs of different industries and investors. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of crowdfunding available and explore how they work.

Introduction To Types Of Crowdfunding

Overview Of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding refers to a method of raising funds or capital by seeking small amounts of money from a large number of people. This approach is typically facilitated through online platforms, which allow entrepreneurs, businesses, and non-profit organizations to pitch their ideas or projects to a vast audience to generate financial support.

Crowdfunding campaigns typically aim to raise a specific amount of money within a specified timeframe, and donors are usually offered incentives or rewards in exchange for their contributions. The concept of crowdfunding has gained significant traction in recent years due to its accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and potential to garner widespread support for various ventures.

History Of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is not a new concept, in fact, it has existed in some form since the 18th century. In the early 1700s, England’s Royal Society used ‘subscription model’ to crowdfund scientific expeditions. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that crowdfunding as we know it today became popular.

The first crowdfunding platform, ArtistShare, was launched in 2003 by Brian Camelio, enabling musicians to raise funds from fans for their albums. In 2008, the launch of Indiegogo and Kickstarter popularized crowdfunding and gave rise to the industry we know today. The 2012 JOBS Act in the United States further legitimized crowdfunding as a viable source of fundraising for small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs.

With the increase in the use of the internet, smartphone adoption, and social media, crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular method for individuals and organizations to raise funds from a large and diverse pool of investors or donors. Today, crowdfunding has evolved into several forms, including donation, reward, equity, and debt crowdfunding.

Types Of Crowdfunding

1. Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding is a type of crowdfunding that involves the sale of securities. It allows startups and small businesses to raise capital by selling ownership stakes to a large number of investors. Equity crowdfunding is often used by companies that are too small to attract venture capital, but still require significant funding.

It can be an excellent way for entrepreneurs to bypass traditional financing methods and gain access to a large pool of investors. One advantage of equity crowdfunding is that it allows businesses to raise large amounts of capital without incurring a significant amount of debt. Another advantage is that companies can establish a loyal customer base by offering an equity stake in the company to investors.

However, equity crowdfunding also comes with some disadvantages. For example, companies may have to comply with certain regulations, such as disclosing financial information to investors. Additionally, the company may lose some control over its operations, as investors have a say in key decisions.

Nevertheless, the benefits of equity crowdfunding far outweigh the risks, making it an appealing option for many startups and small businesses.

2. Reward Crowdfunding

Reward crowdfunding is a type of crowdfunding that involves raising funds through the promise of rewards. In this model, backers receive a tangible benefit for their contribution, typically in the form of a discount or early access to the product being funded.

This model has become increasingly popular for creative ventures, such as films, music, and art projects, where the backers can receive exclusive access to the final product or even a one-of-a-kind artwork. Reward crowdfunding is a way for creators to test the demand for their products or ideas and generate revenue before the actual launch.

It is also an effective way for startups to raise funds and gauge market interest in their products. This model is different from donation-based crowdfunding because the backers receive a tangible benefit rather than just the satisfaction of supporting a cause.

One of the main advantages of reward crowdfunding is that it allows creators to retain ownership and control over their project or product. The creators don’t have to give up equity or repay a loan, so there is no dilution of ownership or debt interest.

Another advantage is that it can be an effective way to generate buzz and excitement around a product before it even hits the market. By involving backers in the creation process, creators can build a loyal customer base that can help spread the word about the product.

One of the biggest disadvantages of reward crowdfunding is that it requires a lot of planning and preparation. Creators need to create attractive and meaningful rewards that will incentivize backers to contribute.

They also need to set realistic fundraising goals and plan how they will produce and deliver the rewards. Another disadvantage is that creators need to be careful about setting expectations too high. If they promise too much or deliver late, they could damage their reputation and lose the trust of their backers.

Finally, creators need to understand that they are essentially pre-selling their product, which can put pressure on them to deliver a high-quality and fully functional product in a timely manner.

3. Debt Crowdfunding

Debt crowdfunding is a method of financing that allows individuals, businesses, and entrepreneurs to borrow money from a large number of investors via an online platform.

This type of crowdfunding involves one party lending money to another, where the borrower agrees to repay the money with interest over a specified period. Debt crowdfunding is considered a more traditional form of crowdfunding, as it behaves similarly to a loan, and investors receive the principal amount they invest plus interest.

Debt crowdfunding is considered more appealing than traditional loans, as it is quicker and more efficient to acquire, and can provide access to capital for businesses that may not qualify for traditional bank lending. For investors, debt crowdfunding can provide an opportunity to invest in a diversified pool of borrowers, which can result in stable returns over time.

Despite the advantages, debt crowdfunding does involve some risk for investors, as borrowers may default on the loans, leading to loss of investment. It is also important to understand that debt crowdfunding is subject to the same regulations as traditional banking and financial institutions.

4. Donation Crowdfunding

Donation crowdfunding is one of the most widely known types of crowdfunding. In this crowdfunding model, donors support various causes, charities or projects without the expectation of receiving a tangible reward or equity.

The essence of donation crowdfunding is philanthropy which means fundraising for social welfare. It is mostly used by non-profit organizations and individuals in need of assistance, but it can also be used by for-profit companies to raise donations for various purposes.

Donation crowdfunding can be considered a form of prosocial behavior in which individuals donate their money to support causes that promote the greater social good. The fundraising goal is the main objective here, and the focus is not on making a profit but on making a positive impact on society or the environment.

This type of crowdfunding can improve awareness and create a sense of altruism, community involvement, and social responsibility. The main advantage of donation crowdfunding is that it provides a platform for individuals or groups who want to make a positive impact on their community or society.

However, the main drawback of this type of crowdfunding is that it is a high-risk funding model, as there is no guarantee that the fundraising goal will be achieved.

Comparison Of Crowdfunding Types


One crucial aspect to consider when investing in crowdfunding campaigns is risk. Just like any investment, crowdfunding involves risks that investors should be aware of before committing their funds.

The risks associated with crowdfunding vary based on the type of campaign and the platform used. For instance, equity crowdfunding involves risks that the invested company might not perform as expected, leading to losses on the investor’s part.

On the other hand, reward-based crowdfunding poses risks of delays in product delivery or receiving a product that is different from what was initially advertised. Another risk factor is the lack of adequate due diligence on the part of the platform or the investors, which may lead to fraudulent campaigns.

Thus, investors must conduct thorough research before investing in any crowdfunding campaign by verifying the campaign creator’s credibility and evaluating the overall project’s viability. Besides, investors should also consider diversifying their crowdfunding investments to cushion against losses from a single investment.

Crowdfunding platforms usually provide risk disclosure statements to investors that highlight the inherent risks to provide transparency before investment. Ultimately, an investor should evaluate their risk appetite and only invest in crowdfunding campaigns they can afford to lose.

2. Return

The return on investment (ROI) is an important factor for investors to consider when deciding whether to participate in a crowdfunding campaign.

There are several types of crowdfunding models, each with their own potential for returns. Equity crowdfunding, for example, allows investors to become shareholders in a company and potentially receive a portion of the profits if the company is successful.

Similarly, debt crowdfunding allows investors to lend money to a company and earn interest on their investment. Rewards-based crowdfunding, on the other hand, offers backers a non-financial reward, such as a product or service, in exchange for their support.

It is important for investors to consider the potential ROI and risks associated with each type of crowdfunding model. Equity crowdfunding may offer the possibility of higher returns, but also comes with a higher risk of the company not succeeding.

Debt crowdfunding may offer a lower risk, as the investor is lending money rather than purchasing shares in the company, but also comes with a lower potential return. Rewards-based crowdfunding typically involves lower investment amounts and may not offer a financial return, but can provide backers with exclusive access to unique products.

Investors should also consider the time frame for potential ROI. In some cases, returns may not be realized for several years, particularly in equity crowdfunding.

It is important for investors to have a clear understanding of the timeline for potential returns and to carefully consider the risks and benefits of each crowdfunding model before making a decision.

Ultimately, the potential return on investment is one of many factors to consider when participating in a crowdfunding campaign. Investors should also consider the track record and reputation of the company or individual leading the campaign, as well as any regulations or legal requirements for participating in the campaign.

By carefully assessing all of these factors, investors can make informed decisions about which crowdfunding campaigns to support and which types of models offer the best potential return for their investment.

3. Investor Base

Investor base is an important consideration for crowdfunding campaigns. It refers to the type of investors that a campaign is likely to attract.

Depending on the type of campaign, the investor base may include friends and family members, accredited investors, or the general public. In general, the larger and more public the campaign, the more diverse the investor base is likely to be.

This can be both a strength and a weakness, as it increases the potential for funding but also raises the risk of fraud and mismanagement.

One type of crowdfunding that often relies heavily on friends and family members as investors is rewards-based crowdfunding.

These campaigns are typically used to fund a creative project, such as a film or book, and offer backers rewards such as copies of the finished product or exclusive merchandise. The investor base for rewards-based campaigns is often limited to people who already know and trust the creator of the project, and the size of the campaign is usually relatively small.

Equity crowdfunding, on the other hand, can attract a wider range of investors. This is because equity crowdfunding campaigns allow investors to actually own a stake in the company that is seeking funding. This type of funding often attracts accredited investors, who are typically high-net-worth individuals with investing experience.

However, the JOBS Act of 2012 also opened up equity crowdfunding to non-accredited investors, giving smaller investors the opportunity to invest in startups and small businesses.

Debt crowdfunding, also known as peer-to-peer lending, is another type of crowdfunding that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

These campaigns allow investors to lend money to a company or individual with the promise of repayment with interest. Like equity crowdfunding, debt crowdfunding can attract a wide range of investors, including both accredited and non-accredited investors.

Finally, donation-based crowdfunding campaigns are typically used by non-profit organizations and social causes. These campaigns rely on small donations from a large number of people, and the investor base is usually made up of individuals who are passionate about the cause or organization.

These campaigns often have a strong emotional appeal and can generate a lot of interest on social media, but they may not be appropriate for all types of fundraising.

Overall, the investor base for a crowdfunding campaign will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of campaign, the size of the campaign, and the level of risk involved. Regardless of the type of campaign, it is important for creators to be transparent and honest with their investors, and to keep their backers updated throughout the entire fundraising process.

4. Regulation

In the world of crowdfunding, regulation plays a critical role in ensuring both the success and safety of investors and businesses alike. Without proper oversight, the crowdfunding market could be subject to fraudulent activities, which could jeopardize the future of the industry.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates crowdfunding through the JOBS Act, which went into effect in 2016. This act allows businesses to raise up to $5 million in a 12-month period through crowdfunding offerings, provided they meet certain requirements.

These requirements include a series of disclosures, such as the identity of the company’s directors and officers, financial statements, a description of the business, and the terms of the offering. The JOBS act also limits the amount that investors can contribute based on their income and net worth to minimize the risk of financial loss. Similar crowdfunding regulations exist in other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia.

While crowdfunding regulation is intended to provide protection for investors, some argue that it can also limit the growth and innovation of the industry. The restrictions that are placed on fundraising can be particularly challenging for smaller businesses or startups, which may not have the resources to meet regulatory requirements.

This has led to calls for a more streamlined approach to crowdfunding regulation, which would balance the need for investor protection with the need for flexibility and growth. In recent years, some countries have experimented with alternative forms of regulation, such as self-regulation or a regulatory sandbox approach, which aims to strike a balance between oversight and innovation.

Overall, regulation is a critical component of the crowdfunding industry, ensuring that both investors and businesses are protected from fraudulent activities while also promoting the growth and innovation of the market. As the industry continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see new approaches to regulation that seek to balance these various needs.


Summary Of Types Of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an approach that allows entrepreneurs, inventors, and investors to come together through digital platforms that provide funding opportunities for innovative products or concepts. It has become a significant source of funding for individuals and startups who do not have sufficient access or capital for traditional financial institutions.

Crowdfunding is divided into several types, including donation-based, reward-based, equity-based, and debt-based crowdfunding. Donation-based crowdfunding relies on donors who are willing to provide financial contributions without expecting any returns. Reward-based crowdfunding rewards donors with products, services, or perks for their contributions.

Equity-based crowdfunding involves investors collaboratively investing capital in exchange for equity in the company. Debt-based crowdfunding, on the other hand, leverages peer-to-peer lending platforms that match borrowers with lenders who are willing to provide a loan with interest. Crowdfunding has seen significant growth since its inception, with more than $34 billion raised globally each year.

In the future, crowdfunding will continue to be an innovative funding option, offering new opportunities for startups and investors alike. The future of crowdfunding will witness increased regulation and standardization, as governments aim to protect investors while fostering innovation.

The emergence of blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies will play a vital role in the development and growth of crowdfunding, making it a more robust and efficient funding model.

Future Of Crowdfunding

In recent years, crowdfunding has become increasingly popular as an alternative method to finance new businesses and creative projects. As crowdfunding platforms and regulations continue to evolve, the future of crowdfunding looks promising. One significant development is the increased involvement of institutional investors in crowdfunding.

This trend may lead to more significant investments and a shift towards more institutionalized structures. Additionally, the use of blockchain technology in crowdfunding offers exciting possibilities for increased transparency and security. This technology could establish immutable records of crowdfunding transactions and limit fraud.

The growing interest in cryptocurrencies, which can be used for crowdfunding, could also increase investment opportunities and global reach. However, some challenges remain, such as investor protection, regulation, and the potential for excessive hype that can lead to unrealistic expectations among investors. Nonetheless, the potential benefits of crowdfunding are significant, and the future appears bright for this increasingly popular funding method.

Types Of Crowdfunding: FAQs

What Are The Different Types Of Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding can be classified into six types, namely rewards-based crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding, debt crowdfunding, donation crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and real estate crowdfunding.

How Does Rewards-Based Crowdfunding Work?

Rewards-based crowdfunding involves individuals contributing money to a project in exchange for a reward. The reward can range from a tangible product to a personalized message of thanks.

What Is Equity Crowdfunding?

Equity crowdfunding involves investors purchasing shares in a company, with the intention of receiving a return on their investment should the company’s value increase.

How Does Debt Crowdfunding Differ From Equity Crowdfunding?

Debt crowdfunding involves investors providing funds to a company or individual, with the expectation of receiving interest on their investment. Unlike equity crowdfunding, investors don’t receive shares in the company.

What Is Donation Crowdfunding?

In donation crowdfunding, individuals donate funds to a charitable cause without the expectation of receiving anything in return, other than the satisfaction of supporting a good cause.

How Does Real Estate Crowdfunding Work?

Real estate crowdfunding involves individuals investing in commercial real estate ventures. Investors are typically provided with a portion of the profits generated by the venture, based on the amount of their investment.

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About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world.

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