By Marcia Moore, Source: The Daily Item
DANVILLE – Joel Peterson is jumping on the crowdfunding bandwagon and bringing a new twist to online fundraising.
The web development consultant from Danville has created Guess for Good, a game-based crowdfunding platform that allows people to donate to good causes while at the same time participating in games for prizes.
Peterson launched the business idea with a contest of his own, inviting people to guess how high a model rocket built by he and his son, Seth, would fly, for a suggested donation. The three people who offered the closest guess won a prize, including an iPad mini and gift cards.
“It makes giving more of an event,” he said.
Working with Rural Business Innovation Corp. which operates business incubators in Lewisburg, Sunbury, Bloomsburg and soon in Selinsgrove, Peterson hopes to turn his idea into a revenue-making venture by charging donors a 5 percent fee.
“I know the crowdfunding industry is growing,” he said of the $16 billion industry that gives individuals an opportunity to raise money for personal reasons such as medical expenses, emergencies, fulfilling wishes and even vacations. “Now people almost expect there to be a GoFundMe whenever there’s a tragedy,” he said.
Many Valley residents have benefited from crowdfunding, including Joy Hoke, a legally blind woman who raised $15,000 in six days to buy specialized eyeglasses that would give her sight.
GuessForGood is a way to separate Peterson’s crowdfunding platform from the other high-profile sites, like GoFundMe, CrowdRise and Kickstarter, and attract donations from people who usually wouldn’t get involved in these types of fundraising events.
Peterson doesn’t expect game-based corwdfunding to replace the existing format. In fact, he said there are times it would be inappropriate to tie gaming with tragic circumstances.
He envisions Guess for Good being used in financial campaigns sponsored by agencies like the United Way, where an added incentive and audience participation may spur more involvement.
How it began
The idea for combining fundraising and games came to Peterson in late 2012 following the deadly and devastating Hurricane Sandy while he and his family were living in Hoboken, N.J.
A local charity was hit hard by the storm and in need of help, but Peterson said he felt silly giving only $300 in cash and came up with a way to raise even more money.
“I spent $300 on an iPad mini and bought some candy that I put in a pitcher,” he said. He displayed the pitcher filled with candy on a web page he created and collected a $15 donation for each guess at how much candy was inside.
At a time when many fundraisers were being held to assist storm victims, Peterson’s idea attracted attention and brought in $2,200 fo the charity.
“It turned into a real community event. I tucked it away as a business idea,” he said. “People weren’t only compelled by the story, they were compelled by the prize.”
The experience also opened Peterson’s eyes about how to operate a game-based contest, which is required to follow federal, state and local laws.
Peterson is still developing Guess for Good, but has plans to help raise money for other new entrepreneurs and RBI, a nonprofit that fosters local job growth.
“At the end of the day, we’re having fun with it,” he said.
Joel Peterson, CEO of Guess for Good