How to Crowdfund a Potential Political Campaign

Donate to a potential candidate, get a refund if they don't run.

Volunteers with the organization Ready for Hillary' hold a rally on May 8, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The fundraising success of "Ready for Hillary," a group urging Hillary Clinton to run for president, shows the benefit of a new startup which refunds donors if their preferred candidates decide not to run for office.

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Want to fund Hillary Clinton or another candidate for a presidential campaign, but aren’t sure whether they are going to run? A new, nonpartisan crowdfunding platform will launch in May to give people the option of raising or donating funds for a campaign, with a guaranteed refund if the candidate stays out of the race.

[OPINION: Worse Than Citizens United]

VoteRaise will be unveiled on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., during the CampaignTech 

conference, when platform co-founder Ram Singh will discuss the potential of new campaign finance solutions alongside other entrepreneurs working for innovation in advocacy, voting and political data. The startup looks out for the security and privacy of its users and is compliant with the Federal Election Commission, which also means certain donations on the site must be disclosed to the regulator, Singh says.

Political action committee Ready for Hillary raised more than $4 million in 2013 for a possible presidential run by Clinton, which Singh says “is a pretty good indication in how much interest there is in people funding candidates they would like to see run before the election cycle starts.”

The platform also could prove useful for groups rallying support for potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.

“VoteRaise provides a means for possible candidates to engage with voters and develop a real level of interest through early campaign contributions, without having to go through the process of having

to set up a special PAC to do so,” Singh says. “And the money raised via VoteRaise will go directly to the candidates."

VoteRaise is in talks with PACs, trade associations and nonprofits that have identified prospective 2016 candidates to give them a forum in which they can build support for those candidates through early contributions, Singh says. The crowdsourcing platform will be free to get started, but the site will support its operations by taking a small percentage from contributions made through the platform, he says.

“PACs serve a useful purpose in issue and candidate advocacy,” Singh says. “We give a donor another means to express their political interests, with control over how their contributions are reallocated should a prospective candidate decline to run for office.”

[READ: Americans Elect Shows How Third-Party Campaigns Have Hit a Ceiling]

The U.S. Supreme Court gave PACs a shot at increased influence last week with a ruling that donors will no longer be limited to the $123,200 campaign cycle aggregate cap, as the court determined that campaign finance is a form of free speech protected by the Constitution. Singh and his team do not have a position on the Supreme Court ruling, but he says such rulings often have “unintended consequences.”

“Anyone who claims to know how things will shape up has a much better crystal ball than we do,” Singh says.

Kickstarter is perhaps the most popular example of crowdfunding because of that platform’s success 

giving entrepreneurs a chance to fund production of devices like the Everpurse phone-charging bag or the recent “Veronica Mars” movie.

“We are a nonpartisan platform,” Singh says. “We are providing a forum for interested parties to start fundraising, augmenting current options that are out there to help gain constituents. In the end, it’s about capturing the interest of voters. Voters want to be heard. VoteRaise gives them a megaphone.”