yplayground_120When the Lansing Community Council wanted to replace the aging playground in Myers Park it solicited donations of time and money in all the traditional ways.  Volunteers sent out mailings, held chicken barbecues and all kinds of events to rally the community to pitch in and get involved.  The YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County is taking a more modern approach: crowdfunding.  They're calling it a Playground of Promise on a Web page that helps donors pledge money toward the project.

"In pursuit of our mission, the Y is excited to announce our campaign to build an outdoor play area for the youth in our community," the page says.  "We ask for your help with this project and appreciate any donation you can give to ensure this project is a success."

The Y, a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization, is hoping to raise $23,000 over a two week period.  As of this writing (Thursday morning) they had raised just over 11% of that.  Donors' credit cards will not be charged unless the campaign raises at least $10,000.   The site includes a video explaining why the Y wants to build the playground, with plenty of kids and staffers making the pitch.  Coners click the 'Contribute Now' button to make a credit card pledge, with the option to leave a comment that will be displayed farther down on the page.


The Y is making use of crowdtilt.com, a site similar to its better known counterpart, Kickstarter, that provides a portal for contributing to future products, funding them beforehand so they can be brought to market.

But crowdfunding isn't limited to for-profit companies and products that want to bring innovative consumer products to market.  Students use crowdfunding to raise tuition money.  Some parents are using sites like givecollege.com or gradsavegifts.org to begin raising college tuition while their children are still young.  One innovator raised money to fund a giant inflatable sculpture of Lionel Richie's head for a British music festival.  A group in Georgia used crowdfunding to pay for a census of the Eastern gray squirrel in Atlanta's Inman Park.  In 2011 young man in Los Angeles used the crowdfunding site indiegogo.com to solicit money to pay to fix his broken tooth.

The Ithaca & Tompkins County Y's project is more altruistic.  The Y is hoping to build a safe, engaging playground for local children.  It is designed for children aged 3-5 years old.  The money will pay for swings, slides and teeter-totters, among other features.  As of today (Friday) there are 12 days left in the campaign.