More people crowdfunding for personal goals - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

More people crowdfunding for personal goals

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

First it was small businesses, start-ups, and charities that started crowdfunding to raise capital. Now more people are crowdfunding for things in their personal lives, such as education, surgeries, and adoptions. So how is it working for them? Should you try it?

Like many small businesses, the Goochland Drive-in Theater is crowdfunding through Kickstarter.com.

"We're trying to raise money to expand our snack bar," said Drive-in owner John Heidel. "We found the poor little snack bar just can't hold up as efficiently as it used to on the busier nights."

The Theater's goal: $23,000 by this Saturday, March 15. It has raised nearly $6500 so far.

Recently, more people have begun crowdfunding for personal things: adoptions, fertility treatments, first homes, and medical procedures.

VCU students Matt Sjelin and Sarah Barvenik are both crowdfunding to raise about $2000 each for their internships overseas.

"I accepted an internship in London and I'll be working through a fashion designer for three months," said Barvenik.

Sjelin will intern with a marketing company in Cape Town, South Africa. They've raised a little over $200 each so far.

Said Sjelin, "It's nice to know that people care about your dreams and are there to support you, even if you don't see them all the time."

So how well does crowdfunding work? PC World calculated that Kickstarter has a 44% success rate and Indiegogo about 34%.

Crowdfunding has tripled over the last three years, raising $5 billion last year. But could crowdfunding become too crowded and competitive?

Answered Barvenik, "People tend to gravitate towards things that they support. So people that are into the arts, I'm going to study fashion design, they support that."

GoFundMe.com will let Barvenik and Sjelin continue fundraising past their goal date.

But Kickstarter's model only lets fundraisers, such as the Drive-in Theater, have the money if they reach their goals.

Reacted Heidel, "If we don't, that's life and we'll find a way. But we're going to keep our fingers crossed, get the word out and see what happens."

For investors and businesses, law firms LeClairRyan and Murphy and McGonigle are hosting The Richmond Crowdfunding Symposium on May 13 at the Omni Richmond. The topic will be equity crowdfunding and the SEC's proposed regulations.

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