There’s a way to give this season without suffering the mall crowds: using the power of crowdfunding. Here are four companies that are running crowdfunding campaigns this season, ranging from digital storytelling to a new HIV-AIDS therapy. Each startup is offering something unique: the chance for you to help them pursue their ideas and get something in return.

1. Gepeto: Create animated stories

The Gepeto app turns kids into storytellers by enabling them to make characters and animations, and record and edit digital content. Using Gepeto, kids can give new life to the stories their parents loved growing up, build their own original stories from scratch or create “remixes” that blend their original stories with ones authors have created.

By contributing to Gepeto’s Indiegogo campaign, you receive the Gepeto app, as well as some amazing gifts, such as interactive trading cards and a puppet show kit. Funds go toward helping the Gepeto team launch a new version of its app for other platforms.

2. ProtoCycler: Produce Your Own 3D Printer Filament

For 3D printer owners, ProtoCycler removes the need to buy expensive pre made filament by producing raw pellets or even recycling printer waste. Not only does ProtoCycler accept 3D printer waste, but the more adventurous can even experiment with trash around the home – like water bottles or shopping bags.

The ProtoCycler team hopes to raise enough funds through their Indiegogo campaign to finish their design and start manufacturing. Supporters receive thank you gifts like raw plastic pellets and for larger pledges the opportunity to obtain a ProtoCycler at a major discount.

3. iHeart: Discover your physiological age

iHeart determines your physiological age by measuring aortic stiffness, an indicator of biological health. It does this by measuring your pulse for 30 seconds via a device that you plug into your iPad or iPhone. Testing can be done daily, weekly or monthly to track how the body is responding to factors such as exercise, diet and stress.

Contributors to iHeart’s Indiegogo campaign will receive an iHeart physiological age system (for donations $99 and up) and will help the company to manufacture the device and complete research and development for other personal health-monitoring products.

4. ViroCarb: Fund a new therapy against drug-resistant HIV

Despite great progress in treatment, HIV-AIDS is still a worldwide epidemic. Help fund a new therapy for those who have had to abandon existing treatments due to drug resistance and side effects. ViroCarb’s new potential therapy could extend the lives of thousands of people living with HIV-AIDS.

ViroCarb’s Indiegogo campaign will help the company to work on creating a successful drug candidate and attract investment for clinical trials. Your contribution allows you to be a part of the ongoing fight against HIV-AIDS.

5. Brew Box: Revolutionize your craft beer experience

Brew Box is a monthly craft beer delivery service that helps Ontario beer fans to discover unique brews.

By supporting the Brew Box Kickstarter campaign, you help the company to scale its operations, increase awareness and introduce new products. The perks that come with pledging range from branded glasses to a craft beer pop-up tasting event for your next social gathering.

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Lara Torvi

Lara is Manager, Media Relations for MaRS. Prior to joining MaRS, Lara provided communications and digital strategy to New York City’s Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications and the Ontario Government’s Cabinet Office. See more…