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Tue Aug 23 23:07:57 SAST 2016

Crowdfunding is not for bills

Katharine Child | 04 February, 2016 00:46
The country's first pop Idol Heinz Winckler is trying to raise R500,000 to produce an album and music video. He has raised R153,000 so far. File photo

When it comes to crowd-funding, don't expect your campaign to be successful if you are looking for cash or money to pay your debts.

These are the most commonly rejected applications at South Africa's first crowdfunding website Thundafund, which has raised R6-million in three years for community projects, businesses and the production of independent books and movies.

The site backabuddy.co.za, a charity site run by Thundafund, has raised R26-million in seven years for the less fortunate and community organisations, such as The Noakes Foundation.

But what these sites don't do is raise money to pay off people's credit cards.

Yet Thundafund receives many applications from hopeful people trying to get others to donate cash to quash their debts. Rejected applications - about 1400 - are not posted on the site.

So far Thundafund has posted 250 projects on its site and 168 have reached their funding target.

COO Subhas Shah said projects had to reach what is called a "tipping point" - about a third of the total money needed - in three months. If they fail, the project is scrapped and donors get their money back.

Once projects reach their tipping point, they keep the money and can carry on fundraising.

Successful projects include an independent movie that will document five doctors' 30-hour shifts to show their working conditions and a project focusing on mini-bakeries in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.

The country's first pop Idol Heinz Winckler is trying to raise R500,000 to produce an album and music video. He has raised R153,000.

Projects have to offer rewards to donors, which might include helping to direct a theatre production for a day or printing the donor's name in a book, said Shah.

The site's biggest failures include an attempt by the authors of Madam and Eve to raise R2-million to put on a theatre production based on the cartoon characters.

Shah said a project like that might be more successful in a few years "when crowdfunding is better known and people are more comfortable spending money online".

  • South Africa's first medical crowdfunding project, listed on a British medical site, Walacea, raised almost R63,000 for University of Pretoria geneticists to build a 3D camera for research.

The research aims to take photos of newborns to detect markers in their faces that help diagnose diseases.

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