When Michelle Cruz needed money to expand the East Harlem Cafe, getting a loan wasn't easy, or inexpensive. Rather than seek outside sources, she looked to her loyal customers. One told her about Indiegogo.com, a Crowdfunding website that allows anyone to set up a campaign for any reason.
Cruz set a goal of $10,000 and raised it in just 30 days.
“We put the word out that this is our initiative, this is what we're doing and the community took a hold of it and just ran with it,” said owner of East Harlem Cafe Michelle Cruz.
There is a fee involved for those looking to fundraise. Indiegogo collects anywhere for 4 to 9 percent depending on the payment plan you choose and whether or not your reach your goal. Co-founder Slava Ruben says a there are a number of factors that go into running a successful campaign.
“You need to have a good pitch, you need to be proactive and you need to find an audience that cares,” said Rubin.
And even if you're not a coffee shop, it doesn't hurt to offer a few perks.
“Campaigns that hit their target, over 93 percent of them will offer perks in return. that can be an actual cupcake, maybe your name on a wall, maybe you get your image animated into a movie,” said Rubin.
Crowdfunding is getting to be a crowded field with dozens of websites, like Kickstarter and Rockethub, offering similar fundraising opportunities. But the idea dates back long before the internet, to Joseph Pulitzer, who used newspaper editorials to call on Americans to help finance Lady Liberty's pedestal and millions chipped in.
The average Indiegogo contribution is about $70 and that adds up quickly. A campaign to turn noted inventor Nicola Tesla's final lab into a museum recently crossed the $1 million mark and then there's bus monitor Karen Klein, who was filmed being bullied by middle school students in Upstate New York.
After seeing the clip, a good Samaritan decided to raise $5,000 to send her on vacation.