April 26, 2011

15 ways to crowdfund your startup or project

social-entrepreneur-funding

 

Have you considered asking the community to support your new enterprise?

Target audience: Social enterprises, nonprofits, volunteer groups, sustainable businesses, community organizations.

Guest post by Kerry Given
Green Marketing TV

Finding funding can be one of the biggest challenges for social entrepreneurs. Fortunately, there is a growing number of options for social entrepreneurs and founders looking for capital to start or expand their social enterprise, startup or nonprofit organization and do more good in the world.

One non-traditional funding opportunity that has seen exponential growth in recent years is the phenomenon of “crowdfunding.” Family and friends have been one of the most common sources of venture funding capital for centuries. Crowdfunding takes this age-old source of venture funding and brings it into the digital age.

Thanks to social media and other forms of modern technology, entrepreneurs are able to build networks of friends, colleagues and like-minded individuals more easily and effectively than ever before. Crowdfunding websites allow entrepreneurs or project leaders to leverage these networks to gain funding.

Typically, entrepreneurs post a request for funding on a crowdfunding site with a detailed project description. Depending on the site, funding may be provided as a loan or a donation. Once the funding request is posted, the entrepreneurs use their networks to spread the word about their project to potential donors through word of mouth, email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Crowdfunding is not for everyone. The majority of crowdfunding sites fund entrepreneurs on an all-or-nothing basis. If the project is fully funded when the deadline arrives, the money is given to the entrepreneur. If it is not fully funded, it is returned to the donors to keep or donate to another project. So it’s important to have a compelling project or story and to be a skillful marketer and networker to ensure that word about your project reaches enough potential donors to fully fund the project before the deadline. If you’re confident that your social enterprise has what it takes to become a crowdfunding success story, you may find crowdfunding to be the perfect option for your fundraising efforts.

The following is a list of crowdfunding websites that can help your social enterprise, sustainable business or nonprofit organization get off the ground:

33needs

33 Needs: Connecting microinvestors & social enterpreneurs

133needs is a recent crowdfunding startup that connects microinvestors with social entrepreneurs who have big ideas in categories such as sustainable food, health, education and the environment. Investors can earn a percentage of revenue in exchange for their support.

appbackr

AppBackr: Offset app development costs

2A specialty crowdfunding site that may be useful to some social enterprises, AppBackr allows Apple developers to get funding upfront for iPhone, iPod and iPad apps in the concept stage by selling the app wholesale to backers, who receive a percentage of the profits for the apps they have purchased. Many app buyers also assist developers with marketing and promoting their apps to ensure that their investment is fully recouped. With a growing number of social enterprises tapping into the explosive apps market to raise awareness and sell products or services, AppBackr may be a useful tool to help offset app development costs, and even gain some extra promotional help.

buzzbnk

Buzzbnk: Supporting a wide range of fields

3Buzzbnk is a crowdfunding platform especially for social enterprises that allow funders to donate either money or time to support social enterprises working in a wide variety of fields. Though based in the UK, it is open to social ventures operating anywhere in the world. Social enterprises must submit their project proposal to Buzzbnk and the Buzzbnk team will work with the social enterprise to help develop appropriate fundraising targets and benefits or rewards to offer funders.

causevox

CauseVox: Fundraising pages for nonprofits

4CauseVox offers nonprofit organizations a fully customizable fundraising page that makes collecting money from supporters easy. Supporters can also create their own personalized fundraising pages. Social media integration makes it easy to embed YouTube videos, Flickr slideshows and more.

profounder

ProFounder: Investors share in the profits

5ProFounder caters to entrepreneurs – social or otherwise – who are looking for alternative sources of venture capital. ProFounder provides a secure platform where entrepreneurs can raise money from family members, friends and other connections, who then receive a share of the profits when the business they have invested in succeeds. This revenue sharing system is good for investors and good for entrepreneurs, because it doesn’t commit entrepreneurs to making debt payments (potentially with high interest rates) during periods of bad business, only when the business is successful and profitable. Continue reading

May 28, 2010

24 tools for fundraising with social media

GlobalGiving

 

How to raise money to support your favorite cause

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, cause supporters, businesses

By Vivian Ramirez and J.D. Lasica
Socialbrite staff

In the old days — before 2005, remember? — we would solicit our friends to raise funds through walk-a-thons, cake raffles and similar homespun events. If you were raising money for a favorite cause, you’d look to your immediate friends, family and co-workers.

Today, social media has changed the game. With the surge of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you can reach a much wider audience to raise money for your cause. The success of such online efforts varies widely: 30,000 runners in the Flora London Marathon raised $7.3 million through the online fundraising platform Justgiving. On a smaller scale, the Trail of Tails Pet Walk and Festival raised $41,000 for the Jacksonville, Fla., Humane Society using social media tools. And New York dancer Amanda Gravel raised $988 using the widget ChipIn for the campaign against breast cancer.

How did it work for them? Social tools now make it easy to solicit donations using fundraising widgets or badges, social networks like Twitter and Causes (part of integrated with Facebook). With Network for Good or PayPal usually handling the transaction, the solicitors can concentrate on sharpening their message and targeting the right recipients. Not all take the same approach: Some let you add advertising to your site, or create personal webpages, as a way to support your cause instead of ponying up dinero.

Depending on the size of your campaign and budget, cause advocates and small nonprofits now have lots of tools to choose from — further down, we’ll tell you about the ones for mid-size and large nonprofits. (See last month’s 10 mobile apps for social good for ideas on how to donate or volunteer using mobile devices.)

Here are 24 tried-and-true tools for online fundraising. Have we used them all? No. But if you’ve used some of these, add your observations. And we know there’s a 25th out there, so tell us your favorites in the comments below.

 
chipin

ChipIn: The easy way to collect money

1ChipIn is the most popular widget used by fundraisers today for distributed fundraising. It’s a simple tool you can place on your website or on a Facebook profile page. It amounts to a donate button that comes with a thermometer that measures the campaign’s progress. If you don’t have a site, you can subscribe to ChipIn and they’ll host your campaign for free. Subscribing to ChipIn is free, but you’ll need to set up a PayPal account to process donations. Every monetary contribution made through ChipIn is charged at a rate beginning at 2.5 percent of the amount donated.

GlobalGiving

GlobalGiving: Donate to grassroots projects

2GlobalGiving is an online marketplace for philanthropy where anyone can post an idea and get it funded. The nonprofit connects donors with community-based projects that need support in the United States and abroad. You select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution and get regular progress updates — so you can see your impact. The organization sustains itself with a 15 percent optional fee you can add so that 100 percent of your donation goes directly to the project.

change-org

Change.org: Empowering people to take action

3A social enterprise, Change.org helps to raise awareness about important social causes and to empower people to take action, chiefly through partnerships with leading nonprofits. Actions might range from joining an organization and making a personal pledge to signing an online petition or calling a congressperson’s office about an issue like homelessness or sustainable food. In addition to signing petitions or leaving comments, you can raise funds by creating a page with photos, videos, logos and supporting materials. Change.org’s fundraising pages use donation widgets with progress thermometers that track the amount raised. Basic membership is free; it costs $20 a month for those who want customized pages. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent for every transaction.

changing-the-present

ChangingThePresent: Make the world a better place

4ChangingThePresent is a nonprofit that connects you with more than 1,500 meaningful if nontraditional charitable gifts — for instance, “stop global warming for $20″ or “adopt a tiger for $40.” Browse by cause or nonprofit to find a gift for friends or for your own charitable giving. The service also encourages donors to make simple donations of any amount through their home pages. A premium profile costs $100 per year. Donation processing fee: 3 percent of each donation plus 30 cents.

Razoo

Razoo: Experience the joy of giving

5Razoo is a new way to donate and raise money online. Whether you want to donate money, run a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit or raise money as a nonprofit, Razoo offers simple, secure tools to achieve your goals. A nonprofit based in Washington, DC, Razoo helps donors find inspiring giving opportunities and helps nonprofits and volunteers with fundraising pages, social media tools and donation processing.

Causes

Causes: Empowering anyone to impact the world

6Causes is a wonderful way to gain attention for a cause. Co-founded by Sean Parker, an early member of Facebook’s executive team, Causes allows fundraisers to solicit donations from their own contacts and recruit volunteers who want to participate on behalf of a cause. People who use the site as a way to socialize can also participate in fundraising ideas by posting Cause profiles on their Facebook page. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent through Network for Good; only Facebook members anyone can donate.

Continue reading