September 12, 2013

Spotlighting the personal stories of 10 social innovators

Reluctant innovators

Charting ‘The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator’

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who come alive”Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981)

kiwanjaWhen David Rowan, editor of Wired Magazine, invited me to write a short article for “Ideas Bank” in the spring of last year, it gave me a great opportunity to share something I’d been witnessing on an increasing scale since my days at Stanford University in 2007. The article had to be short – 600 words – and because of that I invited only a couple of friends to contribute their stories. But the seed of an idea was born, as was the concept of “reluctant innovation.”

It was that seed which, one year on, would turn into a book set for launch in a couple of months’ time. You can read the original Wired piece that inspired it. Continue reading

February 13, 2013

How to raise $1 million on Kickstarter

Kickstarter - Brazil
Image courtesy of Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung via Wikimedia Commons

5 tips on how to stand out in crowdfunding world

Guest post by Christopher Wallace
Amsterdam Printing

Christopher-WallaceLet’s go back in time five years to 2007. You’ve got a great idea to build a watch with built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to control and access your phone or tablet from your wrist. Unfortunately, you’re a relatively broke hobby designer working a 9 to 5 technology job.

How do you proceed? Call up your rich uncle and ask him to back you? Go to the bank and apply for a loan?

Five years ago, any method of raising capital for a project would generally require a substantial profit share once the product came to fruition. Continue reading

June 29, 2011

How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

GreenFunder
Greenfunder funds socially responsible projects and businesses.

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part one of a two-part series on crowdsourcing.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstHigh-quality work at a low cost. That’s what crowdsourcing can achieve for nonprofts that wish to save money while pursuing their mission.

Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content or skills and solving problems, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. An offshoot, crowd funding, describes the collective efforts to pool their money together on behalf of a cause, project or business. Kiva (loans to entrepreneurs), Crowdrise and Kickstarter (raise funds for creative projects) and Greenfunder, which launched in May as a site to raise funds for socially responsible projects and businesses, are among the burgeoning number of crowd funding sites. (See a few others in our roundup of 24 tools for fundraising with social media.)

Crowdsourcing, a bit of a catch-all term, can be used to gather information, solicit advice, save money or get stuff done. It can also help to inform decisions, demonstrate inclusiveness and bring a whole new meaning to collaboration.

We’ve seen the rise of community crowdsourcing with the advent of social media, but it’s always been part of the way society works. And nonprofits have always been at the forefront of crowdsourcing long before the term was coined in 2006. The idea simply fits in with the way small organizations work.

Here are a few quick, low-key ways crowdsourcing works

Say you’re a nonprofit looking to improve your services. You ask your Facebook fans and Twitter followers — people who have chosen to connect with you — how they think you can become better. They feel included in the process and want to answer, and then your organization has a solution to its problem. That’s what crowdsourcing can do — it can get a job done.

Or take blog posts. Studies show that people respond better to posts with images, so your organization seeks to include a photo along with the information you provide on your website. Where can you find images? Two good starts are Socialbrite’s Free Photos Directory and Flickr’s directory of Creative Commons photos, with 160 million photos available under various licenses. Both can be used to find free photos that you can use for your website, blog posts, reports, presentations and more — just give the photographers proper attribution. Continue reading

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