The sudden cash infusion doesn’t really qualify as a straight up funding round, but it’s still a major boost for a non-profit group. What Couchsurfing.com does is allow a community of users to rent couches by finding willing owners. The idea is to make travel anywhere a colorful experience where pure non-paying hospitality is the safety net that catches weary modern nomads.
Problem is, Couchsurfing was and is hard pressed to get 501c(3) which would make it a not-for-profit entity along the lines of Wikimedia. With its future at stake, the next best alternative was for the Couchsurfing team to get creative.
A recent update from them reads:
We are committed to keeping Couchsurfing as it is right now available to everyone, free of charge. We want to break down barriers for exploration, including financial barriers. We will need to find new ways of making money, but we will not make members pay for anything that is currently part of the CouchSurfing experience. Instead, what we’re planning to do is create new, optional features that people can choose to pay for if they like — without altering the basic nature of our community.