October 13, 2008

How to attract funding for a social enterprise

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JD LasicaToday I attended the first Social Capital Markets conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The overflowng crowd of 600 attendees filled the four conference rooms on hand. So far, this is one of the best-run first-time conferences I’ve ever attended.

I’m here mostly to get the lay of the land. Ourmedia.org wants to support nonprofits and social change organizations by offering a suite of social media tools for cause campaigns. And SoCap is turning out to be a gathering where both the wealth of sessions and the hallway connections are equally valuable.

During today’s session on Pitching Your Organization, panelists offered tips on attracting seed funding for your social enterprise venture:

• "open with an eye-catching stat," not just a generic statistic about the size of the marketplace

• very high up in your pitch: what problem are you solving?

• who’s involved in your effort who’s impressive in this space?

For later-stage funding:

• how big can it grow to be?

• how impressive a team have you assembled?

• tell a story. try to establish an emotional connection.

• if you’re turned down, try to get some feedback on what didn’t work. what were the holes in the proposal? if they liked it but it wasn’t up their alley, ask them to forward it to other VCs who might be interested.

• for followups, use the phone, not email.

A few of the folks I interviewed or chatted with included:

  • Kevin Jones, organizer of the conference
  • Sara Olsen of SVT Group
  • Joyce Kim of Fortis
  • Jerry Michalski of Sociate
  • Juliana Pastoriza of Brazil’s Geracao de Impacto (Impact Generation)
  • Jim Schorr of the Center for Responsible Business at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley
  • Barbara Roder of TUM Business School in Munchen, Germany (sorry, too tired to look up diacritic marks right now)

Heading back on Tuesday.

Cross-posted to Socialmedia.biz

JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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