As the legalization of equity based crowdfunding in the U.S. is still off in the distance most people don't realize that you can already crowdfund capital for your business - even in America. You can't give away equity in exchange for a donation, but I don't think luring donors with equity is the best approach for the type of demographic crowdfunding targets. If you just need a little capital to get your idea off the ground, a donation-based crowdfunding project can be just the answer.
I've seen an entrepreneur use GoFundMe to raise nearly $4,000 to build a service dog training business. Out in Mesa, Arizona, Myra has taken a passion for holding classes to train service dogs out of her home, into a brick & mortar business. She planned to raise $3,000 to rent a physical location for three months to see if she could do it, and received a little extra.
BellaMaria raised over $1,500 to open up an art store in Illinois. In Salt Lake City, James raised nearly $4,000 to resurrect his taco cart. Entrepreneurs have used the currently available forms of crowdfunding to learn a new skill they can sell, presell new products, and even raise a "Series B" round of financing to expand.
How to Do it
Your first step is to create your own crowdfunding page on GoFundMe. It's only a 1 page form, but there's a feature at the bottom that's often overlooked. It's a powerful feature labeled "Activate Extra Features" which offers 2 choices: Wish Lists and Reward Levels. These give your page the ability to offer more tangibility with your donations as opposed to simply asking for money. You can only use one at a time though.
The Wish List feature lets you show your potential donors what their money is going towards. As seen here, Union Street Eats has a goal of raising $5,500 for a grand re-opening of their SLC based taco cart. With the Wish List, their viewers can choose to donate towards a commercial refrigerator valued at $900 or a truck valued at $2,500. Viewers simply click on the image to put their money towards that item, and then have the option of specifying how much to donate.
Another useful feature is offering different reward levels to make the donation much less ambiguous. You can create any number of reward levels by simply selecting a dollar amount, a name, & description. The advanced crowdfunder can use the description to offer a reward for each level, as seen on Zelda's Biscuit Bakery site.
Unless you absolutely positively must give out equity, there's no better time than now to raise money to start or expand your business. It's totally possible and completely legal to use an existing crowdfunding platform like GoFundMe to to do just that.