June 21, 2011

Expert Web design on the cheap


MycroBurst offers readers special discount to try out service

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, foundations, NGOs, cause organizations, startups.

Shonali Burke When I was at BlogWorld Expo in New York earlier this month, I spent quite a bit of time walking around the exhibit hall.

One of the companies I came across was MycroBurst, a marketplace that helps you crowdsource any kind of design – website, logo, stationery, T-shirt, you name it, there’s a community of designers signed up there to vie for the honor of creating your project. Similar crowdsourcing communities include crowdSPRING and 99designs (website and logo designs), uTest(software testing) and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (data entry and verification).

Special offer for Socialbrite readers

The MycroBurst team gave me a discount code to give out as a special offer, which waives the standard $19 set-up fee for anyone who uses it. So, in essence, you can post a free project (you’ll still have to decide on the amount of your prize money, etc.) and probably get some great designs to help you along. If you’d like to take advantage this special offer, just plunk in the code B222 when you post your project.

if you have any trouble, please let me know. The code is valid through July 17, which gives you a few weeks to get a new project going.

How MycroBurst works

First, you select what kind of project you want crowdsourced and post the details along with how much of a “prize” you’re offering. MycroBurst suggests $149 as a good starting point, but if you offer a higher prize, you’re likely to get more entries. Once you’ve posted your project, a contest starts among the designers on the site to present their best idea (see examples in the main image above).

mycroburst logoThroughout the project, you can review the entries, give feedback and then at the end of the contest select your favorite as the winner. Give the designer his or her prize money, and you’re done – probably for far less than you’d pay otherwise.

There is typically a $19 set-up fee for MycroBurst to run your contest, along with a 7.5% credit card processing fee and various options for you to select from in terms of promoting it. You can head over to the MycroBurst site to learn more about the details. I’ve seen other crowdsourcing design sites, and I really like the way this one works. No doubt the fact that Joe Witte, one of the people behind MycroBurst, took some time to talk to me and give me a demo made a difference. Continue reading

April 26, 2011

15 ways to crowdfund your startup or project



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:


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: 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: 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: 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: 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

March 31, 2011

Ideavibes: A new way to do crowdsourcing & crowdfunding campaigns


Engage4change contest asks SF residents for ideas to improve housing & transportation

Editor’s note: A start-up called Ideavibes has created a crowd-engagement platform that can be purchased by nonprofits, government agencies or businesses to do their own crowd engagement or crowd funding. It’s one of the more interesting companies we spotted at Web 2.0 Expo this week.

Guest post by Paul Dombowsky
Founder & CEO, Ideavibes

Paul-DombowskyAs every nonprofit, business or government knows, the more engaged your constituents, the more likely they are to give or participate. What’s the best way to engage, then? A new technology, fresh on the market, promises to make it easier for people to participate and have their voices heard.

Ideavibes, a start-up based in Ottawa, Ontario and displaying at San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Expo (ending today), has developed a Crowd Engagement Platform that enables organizations to create crowdsourcing and crowdfunding campaigns. Nonprofits, municipalities and businesses can use the platform to engage a wide swath of constituents by seeking input or project funding in a highly visible and transparent interaction.

When individuals can see their input or dollars recognized and valued, they are more likely to participate, and more likely to encourage others to follow suit.

What we’re seeing is this: Participants feel involved, visible and acknowledged with the platform. When individuals can see their input or dollars recognized and valued, they are more likely to participate, and more likely to encourage others to follow suit.

The Ideavibes platform can be easily deployed on a current or a newly developed website built with the organization’s branding. The platform includes everything needed to run a crowdsourcing or crowdfunding campaign: Submit an idea, fund a project or make a donation and have the opportunity to comment and vote on the submissions of others. The immediate feedback of viewing their submissions provides participants an immediate public acknowledgement. They are further compelled to invite friends and family to support their idea or donation, to raise its visibility.

Engage4change, a crowdsourcing contest, kicks off

To demonstrate its crowd engagement platform, we’ve just launched Engage4change, a 14-day crowdsourcing contest focused on culling innovative ideas for improving housing and transportation in the city of San Francisco. It ends April 10. The idea that receives the most votes will be presented to San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee on April 12, and the person who submitted it will be awarded $250. Continue reading

March 18, 2010

Tap into the collective power of your community

Molena, Ga. - KaBOOM!

The Extraordinaries lets your organization create a crowdsourced ‘mission’

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

Recruiting friends and supporters to get real work done virtually on behalf of social-good projects is easy and fun with the help of The Extraordinaries. Based in San Francisco, the company has created a platform allowing anyone to create a micro-task and blast it to their community of friends and supporters to generate real, usable output when they spend a few minutes of their spare time on an iPhone or computer.

You can download the iPhone app at BeExtra.org and check out a wide array of simple tasks you can help with. Missions featured today on the Beextra home page include:

  • Build a collection of cute dog photos for GoodDogz.org.
  • Help build a searchable photo archive for the Smithsonian Institution (yes, that Smithsonian).
  • Create a list of job resources for youths on behalf of Goodwill.
  • Rate tweets from the SXSW conference.

banner-180x150The tools The Extraordinaries have created are available to nonprofits, for-profits, politicos, evangelists and passionate people alike. For example, Citizens Market, a company tracking corporate behavior, is using The Extraordinaries to research and rate company behavior. To map children’s recreational spaces, KaBOOM! is asking people to mark the GPS location of a playground, rate it up or down and snap a photo, such as the one at top.

Anyone can create a mission and harness the power of the crowd to achieve results while engaging and interacting with the broader community — the Extraordinaries has 29,000 registered users, more than 250 missions and 240,000 micro-tasks completed. The team vetts all apps submitted to the site.

Ways for nonprofits to use The Extraordinaries

How can you use The Extraordinaries?

1. Identify your needs. Many tasks, particularly administrative duties, are ripe for crowdsourcing. The Extraordinaries breaks these tasks into small bits of work with the potential for a big impact. Where could you use a few hundred extra hands? First identify your needs, then see how The Extraordinaries community can help meet them. Continue reading

February 16, 2010

Helping Haitians via mobile, crowdsourcing & social media

New platform revolutionizes the way emergency response takes place

Guest post by Katrina Heppler

Bravo to the thousands of volunteers worldwide who are assisting with translating Creole mobile text messages to help people in Haiti following the devastating 7.0M earthquake that struck the nation Jan. 12.

You may not have heard of Mission 4636, but this is where a lot of the most remarkable relief work is taking place. Mission 4636 is a short code emergency response communication system that enables earthquake victims in Haiti to get life-saving aid by sending a free mobile text message. It’s a joint-project of Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS, CrowdFlower and Samasource.

Mission 4636 — named for one of the SMS short codes for Haiti relief efforts — is an outstanding example of global collaboration and the power of human ingenuity to help people and save lives through technology. A huge “hats off” to them as well as to the many organizations that have also come together to make Mission 4636 successful: inSTEDD, DigiCel, local radio networks, local NGOs and the many emergency responders.

In the video interview above, Brian Herbert of Ushahidi, Robert Munro of FrontlineSMS, Lukas Biewald of CrowdFlower and Leila Janah of Samasource share background on how they came together with the support of other organizations on the ground in Haiti to deploy a critical emergency communications system to help save lives and provide emergency resources to people following the earthquake. This is a massive effort across multiple non-profit and for-profit companies and individual volunteers from around the country and globe (more than 14 countries have been involved in translation).


In the weeks after the tragedy, text messages to the dedicated Haiti emergency short code 4636 increased about 10 percent each day – with about one text a second coming through. Technology and people power are playing a critical role in getting information to military and aid workers on the ground. Beyond the immediate help for people in need in Haiti, the program will build computer centers so Haitian refugees can do valuable digital work, get paid, and bolster the economy around them. Continue reading

January 12, 2010

5 lessons from a crowdsourced birthday party

Creative Commons photo by D Sharon Pruitt

How to harness the power of the crowd for a quick & easy campaign

Amy Sample WardYesterday was a very exciting day: we threw a surprise party for Beth Kanter online. It was a bit of fun mixed with experiment, and I think it was really successful. Here are some reflections about how we used crowdsourcing techniques for a very fast-moving campaign and lessons learned that may apply to your work.

Lesson #1: Design an action and invitation that’s doable and interesting — while focused on your goal.

Stacey Monk and I exchanged messages last week, brainstorming the idea of pulling bloggers together to support Beth’s birthday campaign.  We wanted it to be something fun and interesting, so people would want to join – a surprise party!  And we wanted it to be easy to do – write a blog post!

First, we created an open Google Doc where we put in the introduction language, so anyone that clicked through from someone’s blog or Twitter post would have context about what was happening (and included a numbered list up to 53, so people could easily see where to add their name and blog address).

Next, I sent out an invitation that included a simple explanation and invitation to join with easy steps for those interested.  When sending out an invitation, it’s important to remember that the language you use needs to be appropriate for those you’re inviting, as well as to their audience as they could easily repurpose the language or calls to action you use to more quickly and easily share/spread the campaign. Continue reading