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DeKalb County residents fund their dreams with donation websites

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 11:55 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Danielle Guerra – dguerra@shawmedia.com)
David Butts, co-owner of Family Health Center in Sycamore, checks a vitamin on his shelves Tuesday in Sycamore. Butts and his sister and co-owner Susan Wallner are launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to update the store's computer system and to be able to offer more services.
Caption
(Danielle Guerra – dguerra@shawmedia.com)
Susan Wallner, co-owner of Family Health Center in Sycamore, helps a customer with a phone order Tuesday. The Family Health Center has been serving Sycamore for nine years.

DeKALB – To fund his music career, Waterman resident and Christian artist Charlie Haley has worked 17-hour shifts, 10 days in a row during his job at 3M.

He spent years saving up the $30,000 to produce his album, “Soul Searching,” working so much that he had to sign a waiver form at 3M that allowed him to work all those extra hours. In the meantime, he’s written more than 300 songs, saving them on his cellphone and dreaming of going on a radio tour.

Soon, he’ll be asking others to help him launch himself into full-time music career. Haley hopes to start an Indiegogo campaign in the next month to raise at least $15,000 so he can sign with a Nashville-based record label. As part of the deal, Haley will have to match a $15,000 offer from Lamon Records.

“If [a record label is] willing to match you, that’s a great sign,” Haley said. “If you want that deal, you have to come up with half.”

Haley is not the only DeKalb County resident relying on crowd-funding websites to raise money. Requests have been posted on websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, for everything from a DeKalb woman who said she needs gas money for doctor’s visits to a Genoa man who exceeded his $1,400 goal to create a graphic novel.

The crowd-funding campaigns have attracted national media attention as a Columbus, Ohio, man’s quest to make potato salad garnered more than $55,000 on Kickstarter.

Why would average residents help strangers or acquaintances start endeavors while receiving little or nothing in return? Part of appeal is that donors can easily feel that they were a part of something successful, said Christine Mooney, Northern Illinois University associate professor of social entrepreneurship.

Traditionally, investors would donate thousands of dollars to support start-up companies or entrepreneurs, but now, people can donate in small increments of $10 and $20, Mooney said.

“They take ownership of it,” Mooney said. “There’s some social value to the individual and feeling good about it.”

GoFundMe warns people against donating money to a person or cause they don’t know, spokeswoman Kelsea Little said.

“In an effort to keep donors safe, we always encourage them to exercise caution when considering a donation,” Little said in an email. “That is why we put this warning on each and every GoFundMe campaign: Only donate to those you personally know and trust.”

The owners of Family Health Center, 1170 DeKalb Ave., Suite 111 in Sycamore, hope their customers will give them at least $30,000 to add new services such as cranial sacral massages and myofascial releases, upgrade a computer system and sell more products. They expect to launch their Indiegogo campaign within the next week.

Family Health Center is a natural vitamin store owned by brother and sister Dave Butts and Susan Wallner. Coincidentally, Butts is Haley’s music manager.

Family Health Center used Indiegogo because that site requires those running the campaign to offer a “perk” to donors. Family Health Center plans to award gift certificates and T-shirts to donors depending on how much they contribute.

Family Health Center wanted to start a crowd-funding campaign to satisfy demands from customers to add more services, Butts said. They figured customers would be willing to help pay for more services if they really wanted them.

“Business is definitely strong,” Butts said, “but we want to grow with [the customers].”

Crowdfunding facts

• About 6.8 million people have backed Kickstarter campaigns, with 2 million people backing more than one project.

• More than 9 million people a month visit www.indiegogo.com.

• Six million donors have given more than $400 million on www.gofundme.com, with $1 million raised every day.

Sources: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe

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