Elizabeth Pedrini is far from alone in her method for raising money. She used the website GoFundMe.com, where users create pages describing their cause and set a fundraising goal. They then share the page with friends on social media, who can donate through the site.
According to GoFundMe.com, tens of thousands of users raise millions each month on site, which charges a 5 percent fee for all campaigns.
The model is called crowdfunding, and there are dozens of similar sites. They connect start-up businesses with would-be investors (Fundable.com), teachers raising money for class projects to willing donors (Funding4Learning.com) and aspiring musicians and artists to benefactors (ArtistShare.com).
It’s already in the news: After a video of school bus monitor Karen Klein being bullied by students went viral last year, a campaign on Indiegogo.com to send her on a vacation raised $703,000.
Meanwhile, the Best Documentary Short winner at last month’s Oscars, "Inocente," was made with $53,000 raised on Kickstarter.com, a site for artists, designers and filmmakers.