What is Crowdfunding?


Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or cause by raising money from a large number of people, typically through the Internet. It is a form of peer-to-peer fundraising that harnesses the power of social networks to raise awareness and draw donations from around the world for online campaigns.

How is Compassionate Crowdfunding™ Different?

YouCaring is a free online fundraising platform that pioneered Compassionate Crowdfunding™—empowering people worldwide to rally support for personal and charitable causes without the fundraising fees associated with other sites. To date, the YouCaring community is 5.5 million strong and has raised more than $1 Billion for humanitarian causes.

Start Crowdfunding

The Rise of Crowdfunding

The flourishing sharing economy is changing the landscape of fundraising, and in recent years, crowdfunding has dominated the scene. According to research firm Massolution, donation-based crowdfunding alone grew more than 50 percent in 2015, raising nearly $3 billion. The overall crowdfunding market, including donation-based, lending-based, reward-based and equity-based funding, was expected to grow to $34.5 billion in 2015, more than double that of 2014.

Recent statistics contributing to crowdfunding’s popularity:

  • Annual out-of-pocket medical expenses in the U.S. have risen to $400 billion, or $1,254 per person.1
  • Average medical deductibles in the last eight years have increased 100 percent, from $584 to $1,217 for individuals, not including the price of co-pays, co-insurance, drugs and procedures not covered by health insurance plans.2
  • Forty seven percent of Americans can’t afford $2,000 in an emergency
  • Annual charitable giving in the U.S. has grown to $360 billion, with 72 percent coming from individuals.3
  • The sharing economy in 2015 is estimated to be $15 billion and projected to grow to $335 billion by 2035.4

How can you key into the trend and help yourself or someone you love overcome a hardship or challenge by launching a successful crowdfunding campaign?

How To Crowdfund

1. Create

YouCaring’s easy-to-use fundraiser template allows you to create an effective home page for your crowdfunding campaign. Show potential donors how they can help by telling a compelling story, uploading several pictures and videos, and posting updates.

2. Share

Activate your social network. With just a few clicks, spread the word of your fundraiser to friends, family and other potential donors through Facebook, Twitter, email and other channels. Each share is worth $37 on average.

3. Collect

Donations to your fundraiser can be transferred into your account as they’re received. YouCaring provides free fundraising, which means we don’t charge a thing. The donation processor does, however, take 2.9%, plus $.30 per transaction.

Best Crowdfunding Practices

The most important goal of crowdfunding is to build a community and a network that empathizes with your cause and donates.
  1. Plan Ahead

    Create a social presence by setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts if you haven’t already done so. Immediately start connecting with as many friends, family members, coworkers and acquaintances as possible. See our Using Social Media to Promote Your Fundraiser page. Also consider setting up a blog or website devoted to your cause to further boost your social presence. See our How to Start a Fundraising Website or Blog page.
  2. Make It Compelling

    From the title to the story to the visuals, your campaign should inspire potential donors to contribute to your cause. Take time to create a great name for your campaign and write an engaging story. Uploading several high-quality photos and one or more videos can exponentially increase donations to your campaign. For additional tips, see these YouCaring articles: Great Ideas for Naming Your Online Fundraiser, How Images Can Lead to Fundraising Success and Videos Are Powerful Fundraiser Tools.
  3. Share and Update

    Sharing your campaign often via social media channels and asking your friends, family and others to do the same is the best way to raise awareness and support for your cause. Every share can raise $37. Multiply those shares and your fundraiser may go viral. Meanwhile, well-written updates keep supporters and potential donors engaged. Fundraisers with five updates can raise 15 times more than those with one. Fundraisers with 20 or more updates on average meet their fundraising goal.
  4. Organize Offline Events

    Complementing your online campaign with an offline fundraiser can get your community personally involved and rally support from local businesses. Sports tournaments, dinners, auctions, dances and other events are great options. See our Fundraising Ideas page for other tips.
  5. Reach Out to the Media

    Getting your campaign covered by a local newspaper, T.V. station, radio station or even blogger and Facebook pages can propel your fundraiser to new heights. See our tips page, How to Get Local Media to Cover Your Fundraiser.

The Crowdfunding Platform You Choose Matters

It is vital to pick the crowdfunding platform that best suits your needs and your cause. The most important aspects include the fees charged to fundraise, the site’s customer service standards and reputation, the schedule for payment of donations, the caliber of online tools available to illustrate and share your campaign, and the quality of the site—from the visuals to the user experience.

Top Crowdfunding Sites at a Glance

See Full Chart



Give Forward


The leader in Free Online Fundraising.
Fee-based platform.
Fee-based platform.
Fee-based platform.
Pioneered Compassionate Crowdfunding™ for personal and charitable causes.
Dedicated to helping users raise funds for personal causes and projects for musicians, inventors, businesses and other entities.
Aimed at rallying a community to take action during a challenge.
Dedicated to helping people crowdfund for charities, events and personal causes.
Personal Support
Easy, fast fundraiser setup, visually appealing campaign pages, industry-leading social sharing, photo and video tools.
Social media sharing, photo and video upload tools.
Ability to add pictures, calendars and video to fundraising pages, send “Thinking of You” emails, and organize meal delivery and wish lists.
Ability to have a personal charitable page that shows all of your fundraisers and donations.
Social Integrations
Collecting Funds
Daily access to funds.
Daily access to funds.
Daily access to funds.
Daily access to funds.
Platform Fee


No fees are charged to fundraise on YouCaring.


GoFundMe takes a mandatory 5% of all donations raised.


Give Forward charges 5% to fundraise.


Default platform fee is 5%.
U.S. Alexa Ranking









Real-Time Chat & Coaching

Real-time live chat and email support.

5-Minute Support

(only through email)

Personal Coaching

Personal Support

Customer Satisfaction


(Verified by Zendesk)


(No customer satisfaction data found)


(No customer satisfaction data found)


(No customer satisfaction data found)
Credit Card Fee

2.9% + $0.30

2.9% + $0.30

2.9% + $0.30

2.9% + $0.30

Crowdfunding Resources

Aside from our Fundraising Tips page, YouCaring has assembled a wealth of information outlining industry-leading ideas and best practices for crowdfunding. Get the best advice by viewing some of our top articles: For additional ideas on great ways to use crowdfunding to further your goals and fund hope, visit our Fundraising Ideas page and our Compassionate Crowdfunding Blog.

Crowdfunding Campaign Success Stories

Help Save Matthew!

Crowdfunding success story - Matthew Schreindorfer
Goal: $800,000 Raised: $835,918
Matthew Schreindorfer and his wife, Katia Luciani, could not have imagined the journey they would face starting in August 2014. At age 24, Matthew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He had gone through every possible treatment in Canada, all of which failed to bring him into remission. According to his doctors, his only hope was to be admitted for a CART-19 clinical trial in the U.S. The couple started working with Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York and started a YouCaring fundraiser with a goal of $800,000, the estimated cost for the treatment. With the help of family and friends in Canada, and newfound supporters in the U.S. and around the world, the couple was able to drum up plenty of support for the clinical trial in the U.S., which proved to be fruitful, putting Matthew in remission for more than six months.

Keys to Success

  • Huge community of friends, family and followers to start
  • 13,000 social media shares
  • More than 25 photos in the fundraising gallery of Matthew and Katia’s journey, all of which was depicted with a positive attitude despite the grave nature of the situation
  • 24 updates chronicling the couple’s journey through Matthew’s ordeal and expressing gratitude for the support from friends, family and others around the globe
  • Several unique offline fundraising events to complement the YouCaring campaign
  • Heartfelt thanks from supporters when all was said and done and Matthew was in remission

And Luca Makes 5 – Mullen Family Adoption

Crowdfunding success story - Mullen Family Adoption
Goal: $40,500 Raised: $41,259
In February 2016, the Mullen Family of Bethany, Okla., brought home their third adoptive child, Luca, a 3-year-old Eastern European boy with special needs. The joyous occasion came after nearly one year of fundraising, the majority of which included the YouCaring campaign, And Luca Makes 5: The Mullen Family Adoption. After 15 years of marriage, during which the couple was unable to have children, they embarked on an adoptive journey to grow their family, and brought Levi and Lia home in 2011. Their YouCaring fundraiser to adopt Luca raised more than $41,000. Successful strategies didn’t get any better than the Mullen’s over the course of their campaign, during which time they involved their children in many of the happy moments leading up to the last stretch to welcome little Luca.

Keys to Success

  • A heartfelt story about the reason they wanted to bring Luca into their family circle and the process they had to go through to do so
  • Dozens of high-quality photos depicting the happy family, several of which were consistently added over the course of 10 months
  • Two videos of Levi and Lia, one of which was for Father’s Day and had more than 87,000 views
  • More than 5.1 thousand fundraiser shares on social media
  • More than 35 fundraiser updates to keep supporters and donors in the loop on the progress of the adoption and their gratitude for the outpouring of donations from around the world

Help Fatal Arson Survivor Safyre Terry and Family

Crowdfunding success story - Arson survivor Safyre Terry
Goal: $15,000 Raised: $432,249
The story of 7-year-old Safyre Terry stole the hearts of people around the world when a Facebook post in 2015 describing her wish to receive Christmas cards went viral. Safyre was a courageous young burn victim from Upstate New York who was the only survivor of a house fire that killed the rest of her family in 2013. At the time, Safyre was 5 years old, and through all of her medical treatments and ensuing challenges, has remained a bright, optimistic girl who loves life. Around the time of the Facebook post, a YouCaring fundraiser had also been started by friends for Safyre’s aunt and uncle, Mike and Liz Dolder, who are now raising her. The fundraiser was set up to help with the costs of medical treatments and other expenses. Nearly 10,000 people from around the world contributed to the campaign.

Keys to Success

  • More than 39,000 social media shares
  • Local and major national news media coverage of Safyre’s story
  • Several photos and two videos in the fundraiser gallery depicting Safyre’s positive attitude and courageousness
  • More than 10 fundraiser updates expressing gratitude for the overwhelming support and sharing news of Safyre’s recent treatments and fundraising events
  • Offline fundraising events to complement the YouCaring campaign

Bonsai: Half the Bulldog, Twice the Love

Crowdfunding success story - Bonsai the Bulldog
Goal: $1 Raised: $22,898
It’s hard to resist a cute black and white bulldog puppy. But when you see Bonsai, born with multiple rare medical conditions that left him with only half a spine and no pelvis playing with a big pink squeaky toy, still just as rambunctious and playful as any puppy with four legs, it truly tugs at your heartstrings. A group of individuals from Friends of Emma, a rescue organization, took to crowdfunding to give Bonsai a leg up in his treatment. The fundraiser has successfully raised nearly $23,000 to help pay for Bonsai’s medical treatments and a possible mobility device to give him an even happier and healthier life.

Keys to Success

  • Nearly 7,000 social media shares
  • More than 40 photos and 15 videos in the fundraiser gallery showing Bonsai’s daily progress and interaction with other dogs
  • Local and major national news media coverage of Bonsai’s story
  • Fifteen fundraiser updates expressing gratitude for the support from donors and sharing news of Bonsai’s recent surgeries and status of his mobility device


  1. Deloitte Consulting
  2. USA Today
  3. National Bureau of Economic Research
  4. PwC