Learn More About Co-Funded
Our mission : To provide a way for individuals to join forces and make their world better
Co-Funded provides a new way to make change happen by giving feedback with money behind it.
Co-Funded provides a new route to funding for free and open source projects, particularly for small and solo projects.
Co-Funded provides a new way to interact with customers.
Hi, I'm Ben, the creator of Co-Funded. This is the story of how Co-Funded was conceived.
In 2011 I was approached by a the organizers of a swing dancing event to make two updates to a free registration service that I created for such events.
The first update was to allow people who had registered to be able to return to their booking and update it.
The second update was to allow paypal payments split over two or three months.
At the time, I was very busy with other projects for SEKTR, the company I work for, including Dayflier and NetMessenger V2 so I was unable to commit to making any updates in the timeframe the organizers required.
The only possibility would be for them to contract me through my employer, but even with the best discounts, this was still well out of the reach of the budget for the event.
By chance, another event contacted me with a similar request and it occurred to me to message everyone who was using the system to see if other organizers were interested in this proposed new functionality.
As it turned out, many were interested and they were all prepared to pay some money towards getting it implemented. Some events paid $300, some paid $50 but in the end enough money was raised to contract me via my employer, solving the problem.
This gave me the idea for Co-Funded. I bought the domain and threw together a basic prototype over the course of five days (without the permission of my boss I should add!) and then gave a surprise presentation. He liked the idea and I got a green light to develop it.
At the same time, I was able to make the change requested to the registration service and now all of the events that use the system benefit from it.
Co-Funded evolved over the next four years occasionally being put on hold as other projects took priority and occasionally stalled by legal question marks as we worked out the best model for Co-Funding.
Finally we were satisfied with the model and as a New Orleans company, we decided to release it on Mardi Gras 2015.
Co-Funded allows you to petition for a change using money as an incentive and means to make that change happen.
Once a suggestion has been made, it will pass through a number of statuses as it progresses through the system, from the moment of suggestion to the completed proposal. These statuses are described below.
Note: For ease of reading, we use the term "company" to refer to any company, organization, group or individual which would implement a suggestion.
When you make a suggestion, we like to check it for suitability, profanity and for sanity. We will never reject a suggestion because we do not think it is a good idea. We might make small grammatical edits or rephrase things to make sure the suggestion is clear. Sometimes we might link it to a very similar suggestion, or suggest that it might be more appropriate for an alternative crowdfunding service. For instance, if the suggestion is something that you will create, it is probably not for Co-Funded. We will email you once we've had a chance to review it!
The suggestion is now publicly visible and people can commit money towards the suggestion. Now is the time to spread the word to the relevant communities and try to get people onboard with the idea.
People are now able to commit money, but do not pay (no credit card details are required at this point, just an account). This allows the company to see what funds be raised if they were to commit to implementing the suggestion.
At some point, the company which would be responsible for implementing the suggestion will become aware of it. If we see that there is a strong drive behind a suggestion, Co-Funded will contact the company directly. Once the company knows about the suggestion, they can set a target amount, indicating what sort of funding would be required to make it happen, but without committing to actually implementing it. This changes the status of the suggestion to "Open". A company can also skip the "Open" status and go straight to "Accepted" if the amount committed is equal to or exceeds the target amount. In addition to setting a target amount, the company must write a formal proposal based on the original suggestion.
When a company accepts a suggestion, payments can be made. If it has not already done so, the company must now submit its formal proposal and target amount, which cannot be more than the current amount committed. The company must also provide an estimate of how long it will take to implement the proposal and a description of how the co-funders' money will be used. There are two choices: the money raised can be used to implement the suggestion, or it can be donated (fully or partially) to any charity. People may now make payments (and we will email anyone who is following the suggestion, or has made commitments to it, as we do expect them to be paid!), which will be held in escrow until the proposal has been implemented and approved by the Co-Funders.
This status is set by the company to indicate that they have started work on the suggestion. An estimated completion date is also set when changing to this status. Work on implementation must begin and this status set within sixty days of the target funding amount being reached.
The company has finished implementation and now the Co-Funders must confirm that the implementation is satisfactory.
Every dollar that has been paid towards the suggestion carries one vote. Once the suggestion has been completed, Co-Funders have 30 days to vote. Failing to vote counts as an approval vote. If more than 30% of the votes fail , it is considered to have failed. In this case, the company has the chance to address the feedback, followed by another vote. then a repeated round of this process if necessary. If the implementation fails a third time, those Co-Funders who failed the implementation will receive a refund and the total payout to the company will be reduced by this amount. View Example
In this final status, all work has been completed, the suggestion has been implemented, the Co-Funders have voted to accept the change, and the company has been paid. If the money was designated for charitable purposes, the company must upload proof of their donation(s).
Who can use Co-Funded?
Anyone can use Co-Funded, to suggest and raise money for an improvement linked to any company, project, group or individual with a website. The awareness stage is available in any currency anywhere in the world. The backing stage is currently only available to companies, projects, groups and individuals based in the US. We are hoping to expand into other currencies in the future and commitments in other currencies will help us know where to go next.
Using Co-Funded's Fiduciary Feedback system, the user can put financial weight behind their feedback. For free and open source products and services, the money can be used to fund development. For larger services, the company that implements the suggestion might choose to give the money to charity.
People can use Co-Funded to get a feature developed for their favorite software or a website they use every day. People can also use Co-Funded to improve the world around them: getting some outside seats at a local cafe, having some bicycle stands installed outside a local mall, asking a bar to stock ingredients for your favorite drink or getting a minor repair made to the road on your street.
Co-Funded is as much about raising awareness as it is about raising funding. There are some things that companies will never do because there are too many other priorities, or because it is not within the scope of their current vision. Often, companies are not aware of what their users really want and Co-Funded hopes to address this.
Companies can use Co-Funded to promote changes that they are planning to make in order to help fund them. The system also provides extremely high quality feedback - changes that people want so much that they are prepared to spend money to make them happen.
Co-Funded hopes to revolutionize the way that free and open source projects might work. Many open source software projects, for instance, are left dormant for long periods because there are not enough resources to develop them further. The improvements most desired by users are not always a priority for the developers.
By allowing users to suggest and collectively fund improvements, not only does a project get high quality feedback about what their users want, but also funding to make it happen.
Any company that actively manages and promotes its suggestion list (using our widgets), will increase the audience or potential Co-Funders greatly. When there is a large enough user base, there is plenty of funding potential!
Co-Funded is not only for people who want to get things changed, it also provides a new route for receiving feedback.
Traditional feedback can be flawed in many ways. When a user or customer wants to give feedback, it is often hard to find the appropriate place to send it and once it has been sent, that customer may never know if their feedback was ever seen or taken seriously.
With Co-Funded, you can provide feedback to anyone or anything with a website, and you can offer money towards the implementation of a suggestion to show that you are serious.
The company that would implement your suggestion can then decide if it wants to implement it, and if so, it becomes accountable for implementation through the contract it has with Co-Funded.
This is great news for small products, services or projects that are cheap or free and maintained by a small group of people who maintain it because it is good for the community. It is our hope that Fiduciary Feedback™ will eventually supercede the "donate" buttons and the Co-Funded widgets will allow you to donate while becoming a part of the evolution of the product or service.
For larger companies or organizations that offer free and/or paid products or services, and already make money from you, they might choose to donate the funds to a charity of their choice to promote their brand, all the while improving their product. They can also offer incentives for Co-Funding a suggestion.
Fiduciary Feedback is the process of providing high quality crowd-sourced feedback, backed by crowd-sourced funding. A Co-Funder pays only if the company agrees to implement the suggestion. Once a company agrees, it does not have to implement the suggestion until enough money is paid.
How is Co-Funded different from the existing crowdfunding services?
There are three major differences.
Firstly, most crowdfunding services are about creating or starting something new, whereas Co-Funded is about improving things that already exist.
Secondly, most existing services require someone to be accountable for the project from the start. With Co-Funded, the ideas come from the crowd too, which means whoever might become accountable, is unlikely to be aware of the suggestion at the start. Once the project reaches "Accepted" status, the accountability is on the company who accepted the suggestion to implement it
Finally, with Co-Funded, payment is not received until after a suggestion has been implemented and the results approved by the Co-Funders who paid for the improvement.
What is my available balance?
When you sign up, you can commit a total of $25 to any one suggestion and $100 overall. This could, for example, be $10 on one suggestion, $15 on another and $1 each on 20 more. You can commit up to $100 in this manner, among whatever suggestions you choose.
If you sign up with Facebook, or connect to Facebook after signing up, your limits will be raised so that you can commit up to $100 per suggestion and $500 overall.
When you have committed all of your available balance, you will have to wait until you pay a commitment, or are able to withdraw one in order to be able to commit funds to another project.
If you have paid (not just committed) $100 or more towards suggestions in the last 12 months, your limits will be raised so that you can commit up to $250 per suggestion and $1,000 overall.
What happens to surplus money raised for a suggestion?
Funds raised in excess of the target amount will go to the company or designated charity just like the rest of the money did. The company may specify what happens with a surplus. For example it might be donated to charity or be put towards implementing another suggestion. If you see a suggestion that is 100% paid, but has not yet been started, you can still pay money towards it. That is your choice!
Can I withdraw a commitment once it has been made?
Yes, you can withdraw a money committed to a suggestion so long as the suggestion has not been accepted for development, but not until 30 or more days after you made the commitment. See the terms and conditions for full details.
Can I get a refund?
You can get a full refund only if you voted for an implementation to fail and it did fail. If a suggestion that you voted to fail passed, or you become unhappy with the implementation after the vote passed, you will need to contact the company that implemented the suggestion to pursue a refund. See the terms and conditions for full details.
What if I pay money and the suggestion is not implemented?
The company or responsible party is under a contractual obligation to implement a suggestion once the target amount has been paid to Co-Funded. If the implementation has not started, it has been 90 or more days since you made the payment and there has been no activity on the suggestion for 14 or more days, you may refund the payment. See the terms and conditions for full details
What if no one who committed pays?
The purpose of the awareness stage is to get the attention of the people who can implement the suggestion. Once they officially accept the suggestion, it is possible that the implementation could be paid for entirely by people who had not even heard of the suggestion before it was accepted.
Alternatively, the company may decide to go ahead with the implementing the suggestion anyway, even if their target funding amount is not reached. If the implementation has not started, it has been 90 or more days since you made the payment and there has been no activity on the suggestion for 14 or more days, you may refund the payment. See the terms and conditions for full details
Why does the proposal not match the description that I originally committed money to.
Oftentimes a suggestion will be modified for clarity, or to allow for a broader scope. If you feel the proposal does not achieve what the suggestion set out to change, you do not have to pay your commitment. In order to withdraw the commitment you will need to explain why you were not willing to pay it.
Why is everything referenced by website? What if the thing I want to improve does not have a website?
When Co-Funded was conceived in 2012, we were thinking primarily about the online world, since it has the reach to make this sort of funding effective.
These days almost everything has a website, whether the product or service is digital or not, so we decided to stick with the website as the main point of reference.
If there is no website closely-linked to your proposed improvement, you can make one up (a-z and - only) and end it with .co-funded.com (for example: jimsgroceryinsmalltownusa.co-funded.com). Make sure to let the relevant business/group/individual know it exists, because we might have trouble finding them!
There is a suggestion that is for an open source project. I am not part of the company, but I can develop and submit code to implement this suggestion. Is this allowed?
This is a surprisingly tricky problem to solve. There are currently two ways for you to achieve this.
- Speak to the company and offer your services via Co-Funded. The company may effectively subcontract you to do the work. In this case, we would pay the company and the company would pay you. Please be aware that any such agreement is entirely not the business of co-funded.com and co-funded.com bears no responsibility or liability for the details and results of such an agreement.
- Create a new proposal for this suggestion under your own domain and then contact us to list it as an alternative to the existing suggestion. This is only possible for suggestions in "Suggested" status. Once "Open" or "Accepted", new alternatives to the suggestion are no longer possible.