A New Crowdfunding Platform Lets You Host and Customize Your Project

These days, it’s almost a shock whenever startups, no matter their goal, aren’t somehow associated with a crowdfunding website.

Between Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, Kickstarter and others, various journalism projects and tech companies would have never materialized if it weren’t for the generosity of others and online platforms that have made it fairly foolproof to contribute and receive donations.

But as it turns out, Crowdtilt, a Web-based crowdsourcing effort, wants to make it even easier for people (and by people I mean journalists) to manage the funds they raise for their endeavors.

Crowdtilt has launched a public version of its spinoff Crowdhoster, a site that allows users to host and easily manage their own campaigns.

Crowdhoster’s parent Crowdtilt sort of picks up the slack for sites like Kickstarter, which have been known to offer an online home for really big organizations doing really big things (i.e. Matter, ProPublica, DecodeDC). There’s, of course, nothing wrong with having built-in audiences and the kind of editorial history/renown that all but guarantees you’ll meet your goal, but I’d imagine a number of fantastic ideas have fallen through the internet’s cracks because Kickstarter didn’t prove successful for a lower-scale project. But meeker funding goals and minimal recognition don’t mean a business goal isn’t important or that it doesn’t deserve the cash to be realized.

So here’s what Crowdhoster says about its product: its functionality is similar to what WordPress is to bloggers and news organizations. Additionally, it’s set up so that individuals who want to pursue a project can set their own incentive levels and achieve a unique look and feel for their sites — AKA, you don’t have to know anything about code (music to my ears — what about you?).

“When we launched the Crowdtilt API in December, our goal was to empower anyone and everyone who wanted to take advantage of crowdfunding and group payments,” Crowdhoster’s website reads.

It continues, “inspired by WordPress, we turned to an open source project to serve as the backbone of the site code.”

That template makes it possible for users to choose themes and plug-ins akin to WordPress and to present your campaign’s content exactly how you choose rather than using a default. They also claim that their system creates a more user-friendly means of communicating with contributors and payment processing.

The only catch? Although Crowdhoster is free, it’s invite-only right now, so if you need to fund a journalism project right now, it might not be right for you.

Despite that minor hang-up, I see Crowdhoster becoming something of a new norm for journalists and publications wanting to pursue special editorial projects. More campaigns to raise money for archive digitization, bureau expansions, in-depth freelance photojournalism, niche blogs, data journalism startups — heck, even personal campaigns for raising J-school degree money, are on the horizon for all of us. And I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty happy about that.

Will you check out Crowdhoster? How do you decide which journalistic projects you’re going to back financially?