The website Kickstarter  was launched about three years ago and has primarily been a fundraising tool for art and music projects. Now projects that would have previously been funded by government grants are beginning to utilize the site.
The BayCreek Neighborhood in Madison used to have a welcoming sign on a vacant plot of land. The city paid for it, but when it was demolished because of its age, the neighborhood could not get the city to pay for the whole cost of reconstruction.
Local resident Aaron Laux says in order to get the sign back, his community group applied for a city grant to turn the vacant land into a park. They were awarded some money, but it was not enough. Laux says his group turned to the website Kickstarter. "It all comes right at this time when there is this complete tension out there about, 'Where's the money coming from?' or 'Who's getting the money?' 'How's the money used?' And the Kickstarter, we kind of turned to that I guess because we felt like we had to really."
Kickstarter is a website that allows groups to ask for donations to help pay for projects. Goals are set for estimated costs, and if the full amount is not raised, the donations are returned.
A homeless shelter in Milwaukee, the Guest House, has also used the site as an alternative to public funding. Executive Director Cindy Krahenbuhl says the shelter wanted to build a garden, but applying for a grant would have taken a lot longer and the grant may not have even been for enough money anyway. "The Kickstarter campaign, I believe we completed it within 30-40 days, but applying for a new grant from a government source would probably take several months."
The Guest House's garden is in its first full growing season, and the BayCreek Neighborhood raised around $2,500. They want to have the project completed by sometime next spring.