The world’s most famous real-estate mogul, Donald Trump, is jumping into the crowdfunding fray. Trump has partnered with Bill Zanker, founder of The Learning Annex, to create FundAnything, a crowdfunding platform that allows people to create campaigns for any amount of money in various categories—creative arts, causes, personal pursuits, business ideas. The site charges a nine percent commission, returning four percent to the creator if the fundraising goal is achieved. FundAnything also enables entrepreneurs to offer non-financial rewards in exchange for donations.
“For many using the site, the possibility of connecting with Trump is a major selling point,” writes Mohana Ravindranath in The Washington Post, who notes that in its first few weeks, FundAnything has already amassed hundreds of campaigns. “But having big-name support doesn’t guarantee a campaign’s success—a D.C. filmmaking team recently hoped to crowdfund a documentary narrated by actor Matt Damon, but fell several thousand dollars short of their campaign goal on Kickstarter,” she cautions.
Time will tell whether FundAnything will be wildly successful or a footnote in The Donald’s storied career. And while we could speculate about his motives—more fame, money, and relevance?—ultimately they don’t much matter. Most interesting is whether Trump’s entry signals that crowdfunding has truly entered the mainstream, and, if so, what the impact on the democratization of fundraising will be.