Traditionally sites such as GoFundMe, Indiegogo and Give Forward have been used by entrepreneurs to kickstart projects or fund major purchases.
But now many cash-strapped couples are turning to crowdfunding websites to raise money for expensive adoption procedures and fertility treatments - and it's working
'Collective conception campaigns' on GoFundMe alone have raised nearly $1.1 million since May 2010, non-profit AdoptTogether has raised $1 million for 300 adoptive families, and around 100 GiveForwardcampaigns have kicked off this year.
Pioneers: Jessica and Sean Haley kickstarted the crowdfunding baby trend after posting a call out for donations on Indiegogo in 2011. Their son Landon became known as the 'first crowdfunded baby'
With individual fertility treatments costing up to $10,000 with no guarantee of success, many cash-strapped couples have no choice but to remain childless. Insurance companies have been known not to pick up the bill.
At the suggestion of a friend, the couple created 'Operation: Baby' on GoFundme.com in March, and have raised $3,700 of their $10,000 goal.
Desperate: Brian and Ashlee Gibson, from Arizona, spent close to $4,000 on doctor visits and fertility drugs before deciding to raise money through GoFundMe
Resourceful: Brian and Ashlee Gibson have raised $3,700 through GoFundme.com for fertility treatments
For couples who choose to adopt, the costs are even greater.
Depending on the type of adoption, placement agency and the child's age and circumstances, couples could be handing over more than $40,000. Typical expenses include family interviews and visits to the home, adoption agency fees, legal and court costs, and travel expenses for international adoptions.
After discovering they couldn't have children of their own, Bill and Nicole Radtke raised $23,000 through AdoptTogether to adopt their son Manny.
They frequently updated donors on the highs and lows of their adoption journey, mostly by posting videos on their website. Without the donations, the couple believe they would have gone into debt.
Elated: Bill and Nicole Radtke were able to adopt Manny after raising $23,000 through AdoptTogether.com
Successful: Bill and Nicole Radtke turned to AdoptTogether.com after learning they couldn't have children of their own.
AdoptTogether was set up in January last year and is run by volunteers.
Its expenses, such as web hosting and credit card transaction fees, are paid through separate fundraising efforts so that funds designated to families go directly toward adoption expenses. A transaction fee of about five per cent is usually charged for other crowdfunding platforms plus any credit card processing fees.
The big question however is while these upfront costs might be considered a starter cost - are each of these parent going
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