It has been used to fund a film, open a restaurant and to even buy people birthday presents. But could crowdsource funding have an even better altruistic use?
At the Edmund Rice Centre in Perth’s north, the refresh button is being repeatedly clicked on its Chuffed funding page.
The organisation, which supports refugees and Indigenous people, is trying its hand at crowdsource fundraising after government cutbacks left it $50,000 short in funding.
The funding cuts put the Edmund Rice Centre’s sporting program at immediate risk, but the program’s paid organiser stayed on as a volunteer.
The future of the program, which gives refugee and Indigenous children a sense of belonging and discipline, is still uncertain.
A work experience student suggested crowdfunding instead of the usual quiz nights or community charity events.
"This is just a newer way and I think it's certainly a really good way because you're reaching a far greater population than you would normally," said the centre’s director Stephen Bowman.
In return for donations from $25 to $2500, people can get a magnet, DVD or an invitation to the centre’s annual Harmony Camp.
It is not quite a producer’s credit on a film or a free meal at a new restaurant, but it’s a token offering for a charitable donation.
"It hasn’t been a brilliant success, but in terms of donations we have fundraised over $5,000, which is not to be sneezed at in terms of supporting the work that we do,” Mr Bowman said.
Mr Bowman said crowdfunding was more than just donations, but also another vehicle to raise awareness of the plight of others.
Charities are increasingly using the online funding phenomenon to try to tap into expanding social networks, according to the Western Australian Council of Social Service.
"Traditional methods of fundraising are actually in decline," said the council's chief executive, Irina Cattalini.
"In recent years, we’ve seen some of the traditional strategies – whether it's CEO sleep outs, or appeals on the street, or rattling tins, or writing letters to people to ask them to contribute," she said.
"Unfortunately they’re not generating the same level of contributions in the current economic climate as they have in recent years.
"There are some smaller organisations and larger ones that are looking into using some of the new online systems for crowdfunding for new ways of targeting new groups of potential donors."