Be afraid, be very afraid, Kickstarter and Indigogo. A new Vancouver-based crowd-funding platform is set for launch and will charge by donation only, challenging the business policy of such for-profit platforms.
The Dana.io platform is non-profit and is scheduled to launch on May 14, which coincides with the birthday of Buddha.
The founder of the platform, Alan Clements, explains that the idea came to him when he visited Burma in 1979 and that dana means "'the practice of generosity” and "io" as inflow and outflow. "Thus the name," he said.
One of the biggest reasons for the founding of Dana.io was the series of roadblocks Clements faced as he was working on a crowd-funded book in Burma. Scott Nelson, the company’s chief technology officer explained that anytime the word “Burma” came up – which was all the time as the project was about the country – both Indigogo and Paypal would pull their support and funding from the campaign.
“They have it on a government list of countries you’re not supposed to do business with,” Nelson explained. Among other hurdles that Clements faced were fees that can be quite substantial.
Industry giants like Kickstarter apply a 5% fee of the funds collected plus 3% per pledge in payment processing fees. Indigogo charges 4% or 9% depending on the plan selected as well as a 3% processing fee per pledge along with a $US 25 wire transfer fee for each donation made to a campaign if it is outside of the US.
Free and Bitcoin-friendly
The first advantage is that Dana.io is free to use and will cost the user nothing if they decide not to contribute. Users instead will be encouraged to “gift” up to 15% of the money they receive to fund future projects and to maintain the site.
“It’s really built on the pay-it-forward model. We want to lower the threshold completely as much as possible for people, artists, authors, activists worldwide, to believe in their dream,” said Clements.
Dana.io is probably the first crowd-funding platform to accept both fiat currencies and Bitcoin, which has been experiencing increasing popularity in the past two years as a means of conducting anonymous online transactions including the funding of various grassroots initiatives such as the “Let’s Get Alakanani to Amsterdam for #Bitcoin2014!” campaign.
Dana.io is currently working on such projects as GMO-free world, support services for whistleblowers of the Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington and numerous Vancouver-based initiatives such as urban farming, and skills training for recovering addicts.
A new movement?
While Dana.io may be the first ever crowd-funding platform to accept both fiat and crypto-currency, it is certainly not the only one to accept Bitcoins as numerous other websites have started springing up online such as coindfunder, bitcoinstarter, and raisebitcoins just to name a few.
Dana.io appears to be the only platform that allows users to use their platform without mandatory fees. Dana.io’s website reads:
“We invite campaigners to practice dana - gifting forward - whatever they feel inspired to offer in order for other campaigners to use dana.io freely. One could offer 5% or 15% of a contribution, or nothing. It’s your freedom to choose. Seriously.”
Bitcoin enthusiasts have highlighted the benefits and positive social impact crypto-currencies could have on the world, and for them, it would be interesting to observe how Dana.io fits into this paradigm.
“Anyone who has an interest in crowd-funding based upon this dana principal, go to our site, Dana.io, and we’ll get right back to you,” Clements said.