Getting Personal With Crowdfunding

5268396107_cf7370ced6_oWhen one of my best friends departed the city I was living in, I manned up against my petty, egocentric instincts that were inclined to tie her to a chair until she changed her mind and decided to stay and decided (instead) to throw her a jubilant farewell party with all of her nearest and dearest. We also all conspired as a group to buy her a $300 American Airlines gift certificate so that she would come back and visit. It might not sound like much, but for a group of underemployed graduate art students, it was quite a heap of wealth. There was also no way that any one of us would have been able to offer it on our own. And it went over great, I purchased the gift card on behalf of all of us, we gave her the card and certificate at the party and she came back to see us the following spring.

That’s the short version of it anyways. Collecting contributions from 15 different people proved to be quite the task. I felt like a tax collector and I’m pretty sure that Andy still owes me money.

Which is why I find the new offering between Amazon and Facebook intriguing. It’s pretty basic: once a user has linked their Amazon and Facebook accounts, friends can gift invite their Facebook contacts to an opportunity to give to their birthday buddy (whatever amount they deem appropriate). What might have begun as a series of $5 Starbucks gift cards can ladder up to something far more substantial (say, that motorcycle jacket that I’ve had my eye on for some time now). And without placing the organizer with the exasperating (and unpopular) task of assembling checks and cash from their network.

What other uses might the friend crowdfunding be applied to? Can you think of other relevant partnerships?

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