The Cogo crowdfunding platform uses free live video to attract fans to the platform and get them to donate to charitable causes…fast
One of the major obstacles to gathering funds via a crowdfunding model is that you have to be able to unite a large number of people to support your cause. Well-known people, especially celebrities who have their own fan club, have a great advantage when it comes to bringing a large number of people together to raise funds. Moreover, with the current craze for live video on the Internet, celebrities have the opportunity of speaking to their fans directly, in real time. Now the Californian online video startup Cogo is going into crowdfunding, but taking rather a different angle from the majority of campaigns on such sites as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The Cogo team do not want to spend weeks collecting funds for projects that will only see the light of day several months later. Instead, they have focused on short-circuiting the usual process and have come up with a speed version: the Cogo site streams live video for free and comedians and other performers mobilize their fans in order to raise funds for causes that are close to their hearts.
Mobilizing fan networks around live video performance
The way it works is that a celebrity performer will set a date and time for his/her performance. S/he will decide the cause to receive support and the incentives that will be used, such as signed products or a personal voice message from the star. The fans who watch the video may then choose to buy the incentive products or simply make a direct donation in support of the cause. The time limit for donations is normally the show time. The platform has hosted many events, which have enabled it to give substantial financial support to charity organizations. US comedians Jimmy Pardo, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm and Patton Oswalt raised $140,000 in 12 hours for Smile Train, a charity specializing in mobilizing support for cleft-palate treatment. In another successful fundraiser on the platform, YouTube personality and star of Wild ‘n’Out –an American sketch comedy and improvisation television series – Timothy DeLaGhetto raised over $8,500 in 90 minutes for the Philippines and the World Food Programme. The concept, which was originally launched in 2012 under the name of Laffster, has worked so well that the founders decided to expand, and re-brand it under the name Cogo. The platform now caters to a wider range of performers, including actors, musicians and athletes – indeed anyone with a devoted following of fans and a talent that can be performed live.
Crowdfunding proves effective at funding charity campaigns
Crowdfunding has in fact become an effective way of funding charity initiatives and creative projects. In 2013 such projects received $5.1 billion from various platforms. Many platforms have been set up with charity-funding goals or simply with a civic dimension, among them Rally.org, Watsi, Benevolent, HopeMob, crowdfunder etc. However, the time-frame is a crucial aspect in harnessing the mood. Lengthy campaigns may be very effective when a commercial company wants to obtain pre-orders for a product but rapid, ‘lightning’, funding campaigns prove more effective where funds need to be raised for a specific charitable cause. Cogo’s fast funding model enables it to attract celebrities who do not have the time to get involved in month-long campaigns, and makes it possible to fund causes which demand a rapid response, such as help for people in the wake of a natural disaster. Peer-to-peer donations are also becoming an increasingly popular way of supporting charity initiatives, and companies such as San Francisco-based Razoo have made it their guiding principle. This crowdfunding platform makes suggestions to philanthropists on how they can fund their favorite causes by donating directly to the people concerned, for example by simply paying a doctor’s bill. Razoo believes however that not all needs are necessarily tied to a charity. Razoo‘s crowdfunding-for-causes platform helps nonprofits raise money through 24-hour online fundraising campaigns called Giving Days which so far have raised over $200 million for a wide array of causes.