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96 posts tagged crowdfunding

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If money is the only thing stopping you from doing something good in the world, stop waiting and start doing some good!

Nothing better symbolizes entrepreneurship than fundraising.  Social entrepreneurs are no different.  Today, there are a host of on-line resources for crowdfunding that social entrepreneurs can use to fund their projects, films, books, and social ventures.  Today, I’ll briefly profile eight.

  1. NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Yancey Strickler, Cofou...

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Yancey Strickler, Cofounder, Kickstarter attends Wired Business Conference in Partnership with MDC Partners at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 1, 2012 in New York City. (Image credit: WireImage for Wired via @daylife)

    Kickstarter.com:  Kickstarter is the 800 pound gorilla in crowdfunding, originally designed and built for creative arts, many technology entrepreneurs now use the site, some reporting to have raised millions of dollars.  The Kickstarter funding model is an all-or-nothing model.  You set a goal for your raise; if your raise exceeds the goal, you keep all the money, otherwise your supporters don’t pay and you don’t get anything.  This protects supporters from some of the risk of your running out of money before your project is completed.

Get ready! Here it comes! Crowdfunding Will Explode in 2013!

Get ready!  Here it comes!  Crowdfunding Will Explode in 2013!

To read the entire article, click here to visit my blog at Forbes.com.

Yes, that headline has three exclamation points.  I took some out.

The world of entrepreneurial finance is changing rapidly; we are at a tipping point that will make what seems like a vibrant part of our global economy today seem small in one year’s hindsight. 

Whether you are a service provider, social entrepreneur, angel investor, venture capitalist, or one of the millions of people ready to become a small-scale start up financier, it is time to pay attention.

Estimates for annual crowdfunding transactions go as high as $500 billion annually compared to 2011’s $1.5 billion (anticipated to be $3 billion in 2012).  If crowdfunding even begins to approach that scale, it will completely change the landscape for start-up financing.

Jason Best and Sherwood Neiss helped lead the successful effort to get crowdfunding approved in the JOBS Act passed earlier this year.   Niess explained that the folks as the SEC described themselves as “a reactive and not a proactive organization.”  The SEC explained that they needed direction from Congress before they could do anything about crowdfunding equity.  “We delivered an act of Congress.  They weren’t expecting that.”

The Act gives rulemaking authority to the SEC and FINRA; Best and Neiss are now meeting regularly with regulators to help define the shape of these rules—which could determine the success or failure of the Act.  

According to Neiss, regulators approach novelty with a focus on preventing fraud—it’s what they deal with every day.  They aren’t in the business of creating jobs—even though that is the legislation’s intent.

To read the entire article, click here to visit my blog at Forbes.com.

Crowdfunding is empowering more social good

If you hang around me much, you’ll hear start talking about crowdfunding. This is a new name for something that has been around for a long time, raising money. But make no mistake, this isn’t your father’s fundraising.

Using the power of social networks and crowdfunding sites like Rockethub, IndieGoGo, StartSomeGood, Fundly and others, social entrepreneurs and nonprofits can create funding campaigns and raise money more efficiently than ever in the past.

Some readers will recall that I used StartSomeGood to raise some money for publishing Your Mark On The World last spring. You graciously provided the money required to get the words of my book from my computer to market. Thank you!

In exchange, those who helped with my campaign received copies of the book (autographed for the larger donors) and acknowledgement in the book, along with a plug for your favorite cause. 

This kind of crowdfunding is commonly known as reward- or perk-based crowdfunding. The organization doing the fundraising offers rewards to the donors.

Last Spring, at the same time I was running my campaign, Congress passed the JOBS Act and the President signed it. The new law allows companies to raise equity or debt through approved crowdfunding portals. So, instead of organizations offering rewards, they will offer ownership in the organization or promissory notes.

The law gives the SEC and FINRA the responsibility to regulate this new model for securities offerings. Now we are just waiting for the rules. It appears likely that the final rules will be issued in time for securities-based crowdfunding to begin in 2013.

Most people in the crowdfunding community believe that this will replace the old-style friends and family rounds of financing and angel rounds as well. Instead, friends, family and angels will all participate in crowdfunding rounds. Much of the leg work involved will remain the same, but the public platform should create the ability for many more people to raise money for their new businesses, including social ventures.

It is hard to convey the scale of the change here, but since 1933, the U.S. Government has not allowed any type of public offering of securities for start up businesses. Equity crowdfunding represents a historic change that most people still don’t understand. But you will!

If you’ve had experience with crowdfunding, please share in the comments!

Love UT Give UT: Biggest Crowdfunding Event in Utah’s History

On March 22, 2013, Utah will experience the biggest crowdfunding event in its history. 

The Community Foundation of Utah is sponsoring the event in an effort to raise an unprecedented amount of money in a single day. Fraser Nelson, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Utah, said:

Similar events in states from Colorado to Florida have raised tens of millions of dollars and involved hundreds of thousands of people. The Park City Foundation raised $595,642 in 24 hours on November 16 for Summit County nonprofits.”

Love UT Give UT is looking to partner with companies in Utah to encourage their employees and customers to participate in this day of giving.

Nelson notes, “Companies like Energy Solutions, QuestarDropShipMarketStar, Avalon Health Care, Orange Soda and IntegraCore are using this event as a way to position their company as an innovative industry and philanthropic leader.”

Finally, Nelson says:

The Foundation will take care of everything, your employees will be able to support the causes that matter to them, and your company will receive great recognition in the business and nonprofit community

Corporate participation does not require a commitment of substantial time or resources. Visit the Community Foundation of Utah website to learn more or contact Frazer Nelson at 801-559-3005.

If you are not connected to a business that can support Love UT Give UT, you can help by “liking” their Facebook page.

Crowdfunding Workshop Report

This morning, we held the first Crowdfunding Workshop for Social Entrepreneurs. It was a great success, with participation from as far away as Zambia! 

The live, private video chat format provided for excellent interaction and an opportunity for the workshop to be genuinely consultative. 

We’ve scheduled five more workshops. We’ll run the series at no charge this time, but when we repeat the series there will be a modest fee for participation.

If you’d like to join us for the next one—even if you missed the first session—be sure to register here to receive the information on how to participate.

The next session will be Friday, March 1, 2013 at noon EST.

Crowdfunding Workshops Proving to Be Popular Success

On Friday, we had our second crowdfunding workshop. For the workshops, we use Google+ Hangouts that allow for everyone in the group to see and hear the others and to participate fully in the discussion.

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These fully interactive sessions are informative for everyone as we get access to the insights and experience of every member of the workshop, not just the benefit of my study and experience.

If you would like to participate in a future workshop, register here.

Your $20 could be a critical part of more than $1 million

On March 22, 2013, the Community Foundation of Utah will hold its first Love UT Give UT 24 hours of giving—a massively coordinated one-day crowdfunding campaign. If the people of Utah rally around the effort, well more than $1 million could be raised to support Utah’s nonprofits. 

About 400 nonprofit organizations have registered to participate in the event, so Utahns will have their choice of causes, from AAA Fair Credit to the Utah Zoological Society. 

Yesterday, I wrote in my Forbes blog about Minnesota’s record setting giving day last November when they raised over $16 million in a single day. Minnesota is a much larger state and had ten times the number of participating non-profits, but their experience suggests that Utah should expect to raise much more than $1 million next Friday.

Today, you can visit the site: loveutgiveut.org. On the site, you can browse the nonprofits that have registered and identify those that interest you most. 

Generous donors have already arranged $200,000 in matching grants so your money can go even further.

Together, Utahns, we can make a difference—a truly remarkable difference—right here in our own community on March 22, 2013.

Let’s do some good.

Silicon Valley Meets Crowdfunding April 4th and 5th; Be There

Crowdfunding is a vital part of the future for social entrepreneurship, ranging from start-up social ventures to long-established nonprofits seeking to innovate. 

The internet, especially using platforms like Fundly, Razoo, Causes and StartSomeGood, allows social entrepreneurs to access capital they never could before. 

Implementation of the JOBS Act later this year will accelerate what is already an incredibly rapidly growing arena, with the legalization of investment crowdfunding. This will bring an order of magnitude greater scale to crowdfunding immediately and could lead to a two order of magnitude scale difference, taking crowdfunding from a robust $3 billion per year in 2012 to an incredible $300 billion over the next decade.

Entrepreneur Sydney Armani in Palo Alto has organized a conference there on April 4th and 5th to introduce Silicon Valley to crowdfunding. There will be a great slate of speakers and I am honored to be among them.

If you are interested in crowdfunding for your social enterprise, I encourage you to attend this event.

Your mark on the community: Lending to local businesses

This is a guest post from Alex Binkley, a Harvard and Boston University educated corporate lawyer. He has worked for and run numerous small businesses throughout his life, ranging from a small local recycling company to a rowing shell manufacturer. But it was after spending years helping both startups and public companies build and grow that he really noticed a lack of options for small businesses that needed capital. He helped start Funding Community with the goal of helping businesses gain greater control over their own destiny.

My local New York City coffee shop has a problem… its espresso is good but not great.  The owners are itching to improve, but they have a business to run and baristas to pay so they just cannot afford expensive improvements like a better espresso machine.  The shop’s cash flow is solid, but because the business is relatively new it does not yet have reserves for major improvements.  And if you have followed small business news over the past few years you likely know there is little chance a bank would lend to my coffee shop.

Personally, I want to see this business take off, but I am only one person and despite my best efforts I cannot fund these improvements buying $2 cups of coffee all day.

Like many Americans, I have worked hard and always saved my money.  I put a little in the market, but most stayed in the bank where it would be safe and grow with interest.  Recently, however, my hard-earned savings has been wallowing in a bank account earning just 0.5%.  Meanwhile my bank has been turning around and lending my money to its other consumer clients at 23%!

This is why we started Funding Community, the first US crowdfunding platform for small business loans.  Funding Community lets small businesses borrow money on better terms and allows individuals to lend to support these small businesses’ loans.  If my coffee shop were to start a campaign to buy a $5,000 espresso machine Funding Community would post the loan campaign to the platform at www.fundingcommunity.com where just about anyone from across the United States could lend anywhere from $25 to $1,000!  Each month the coffee shop repays principal and interest, and at the end of nine months its loan is fully repaid.

That’s not all a lender gets though.  We ask each borrower on Funding Community to provide a “reward,” like 10% off, to its lenders.  That way lenders like me who already support the borrower are encouraged to come in more often, while other local lenders are encouraged to become customers and new champions of the business.  Because I am lending to local businesses I want to patronize I get the opportunity to shape my own community’s growth!

While we would love all borrowers to be fully funded locally, there may only be enough local interest to fund a portion of each loan.  Because our primary goal is to find funding for these great local businesses we will not leave out someone in San Francisco just because she cannot take advantage of the discount at my coffee shop. 

She can still lend to the business because she likes how the shop looks and operates and has found Funding Community to be a better place to put her money.

Funding Community is trying to change how individuals can shape the small business landscape of the United States, while doing better financially at the same time.  By lending in Funding Community everyone can do well by doing good.

Imprisoned Teacher Gains New Appreciation for Education; You Will, Too!

Guest post by Karen Gould (@ssgkaren) from StartSomeGood.

Personally, I can’t imagine a much more terrifying experience than being locked up in a Qatar prison on charges of insulting Islam.

This is where Nepali teacher Dorje Gurung found himself, after an attempt to teach private school kids about stereotyping and discrimination was tragically misinterpreted.

Things could have got very bad indeed, but this is how the story ended:

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Photo credit: Alka Shrestha

Dorje’s friends and family started a petition and campaigned voraciously across social media. Finally, he was released from prison to the arms of his family in Kathmandu.

“After my friends secured my release from prison, I learned that online campaigns and social media had been mostly responsible for it,” says Dorje. Having witnessed the power of online communities in his own life, he was inspired to harness that power to fight broader injustices.

“I owe my professional and personal success to education, which I wasn’t supposed to have had access to because of my background: I came from a low socioeconomic background,” says Dorje.

“I achieved academic success owing partly to charities of others: my education was paid for mostly by others. It’s incumbent upon me therefore, to seek to provide such opportunities to the young and marginalized children of Nepal.”

Dorje’s experience in Qatar was an eye-opener. He was released, but he saw many others who weren’t so lucky, and had many an occasion to be grateful for his education, and that of his supporters.

“In Qatar I learned that if you are from a developing country and you don’t have good, high quality education at home, then you will easily become a victim of gross exploitation abroad,” he says.

“I saw semi-skilled and unskilled laborers from the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia suffering from this on a daily basis both outside and inside the jail in Qatar.

“High quality education gives you the freedom to determine your own destiny.”

Dorje is running a crowdfunding campaign on StartSomeGood to improve education standards and resources for schools in Sindupalchowk, Nepal. He’s calling on those who believe that education is freedom to support his project and help create a fairer future.

Changing the Way we Change the World

Guest post from Jason Graft, CEO of CrowdIt.

“Equality through opportunity” can be more than a pipe dream. In fact, several innovations have made this idea a reality.  While it’s important to be aware of the socioeconomic gaps across the world, it’s equally important to recognize the substantial opportunities available for anyone to be an agent of change. Nowhere is this more relevant than in entrepreneurism and business. Just look at America – the “Land of Opportunity.”

New and evolving technologies are connecting things, machines and people all over the world. According to InternetWorldStats.com, by June 2012, there was an estimated 2.4 billion internet connections worldwide (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm). Furthermore, the number of these connections worldwide is growing at a tremendous rate, especially in developing areas of the world like Asia, Africa and the Middle East. I point this out because the rise of the internet (and the resulting innovation) has given rise to new ways of doing business and has enabled the individual to connect the collective power of many. If you were to ask three-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman about this notion, he’d probably say that technology alone has leveled the economic playing field, making those who were once considered “long shots” with “pipe dreams” now real contenders in the global economy (see The World is Flat (http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/the-world-is-flat).  As an entrepreneur and proponent of giving everyone an equal opportunity to succeed (both in business and in life), I see great power in the opportunities of today.

While this is an altruistic way of looking at business, it also signifies the transformation that is happening in the digital world, which is directly impacting the way we start new businesses and projects. Case in point is crowdfunding. For anyone who’s ever felt like they can’t realize their dreams or start their passion project, please consider this stat: according to industry research firm Massolution, in 2011, 170 crowdfunding platforms raised more than $1.5 billion and funded more than one million projects (http://www.crowdsourcing.org/research). These numbers are expected to grow, resulting in even more crowdfunding options and opportunities for anyone with an internet connection. The bottom line? There’s no excuse anymore for people not to follow their dreams.

Just deciding to start a passion project or a new business venture is the first step in the right direction. The truth is that most ventures or businesses fail to reach their maximum potential because of two main reasons: lack of experience and lack of funding.

(Credit: CreditDonkey - See full infographic here: http://www.creditdonkey.com/business-swim.html)

These are two problems that I have faced as an entrepreneur and I certainly won’t be the last. In fact, upon considering these two challenges, I decided to look at what resources were available to overcome them. Crowdfunding looked like an obvious and innovative way to gain funding for a new project, especially in a time where people are feeling disenfranchised from the more traditional ways of attaining funding. But to me, what crowdfunding was missing has to do with the second challenge – experience.

One great attribute of the U.S. (and several other countries across the world) is the focus and support on small business development. Small businesses are the lifeblood to economic stability and the dynamo that increases wealth amongst citizens. What people may not know is there are numerous available resources to gain assistance, guidance, and mentorship for starting a new endeavor. Organizations like SCORE (http://www.sba.gov/content/score, a nonprofit association comprised of 13,000+ volunteer business counselors throughout the U.S.) and Startup America (http://s.co/# a White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation) are just two of several major support systems for small business and entrepreneurism. I’d also urge people to find a local Small Business Development Center within their community (http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-development-centers-sbdcs) and to tap a local business incubator found through the National Business Incubation Association (http://www.nbia.org/).   

So why can’t we incorporate these fundamental support structures into the crowdfunding experience and lend support beyond just funding? The truth is we can and we are! My colleagues and I recently launched a new crowdfunding portal called CrowdIt (www.crowdit.com) with a goal of acting as a virtual incubator. This is the beginning of a new model that we believe is going to revolutionize the way small businesses are created because it addresses the two main problems for startup success. This framework also incentivizes people to work together, to network with thought leaders and industry professionals and to seek mentorship and resources – all building blocks of long-term success in business and in any endeavor people choose to reach for in life. Our mission is to help ordinary people do extraordinary things – to follow their dreams and become part of the fabric of ideals of what we call the “New American Dream.”

Being an entrepreneur means creatively defining your own destiny. Entrepreneurship has evolved from just having a financial stake in something to taking an active role in driving new ways of thinking and doing. It was my desire to see others succeed that motivated my partners and me to get involved in the crowdfunding space. In today’s age, I want people to understand there are support mechanisms available for anyone, equal opportunities to start a new venture and with the aid of resources like technology, anything is possible. Furthermore, people (in general) want to help one another. So don’t fear the unknown – embrace it and take action because the time is now.

The playing field has been leveled and crowdfunding has helped that transformation. Embrace it. Make your dream happen.

So what is your passion?  

How do you want to make your mark on the world? 

Kickstarter makes corporate investors build parks through online games

Guest post from teen entrepreneur Andrejs Zolotovskovs.

Since its launch Kickstarter has given birth to a lot of unusual (and often unnecessary) projects, such as zombie soap or documentary on throwing rolls of toilet paper. It’s growing in popularity and looks like a perfect place for your average Joe and Jane to get their new crazy endeavor financed. There is, however, another side to Kickstarter.

KAZOPARK Project Director Kevin McGowan

As a popular crowd-funding platform, Kickstarter is a great place to turn for those who want to make a real world difference, like create an open source Geiger Counter used to measure radiation levels in Japan near Fukushima, or form a beautiful underground park on NYC’s Lower East Side. Unfortunately a lot of inspiring examples, however necessary, are not as exciting as their crazy alternatives. They are often ignored by mainstream blogs and without proper media coverage - it’s next to impossible to gather necessary funding. This is where amazing forces of social conscience comes in.

Brian Fargo was very fortunate to get 2 of his Kickstarter projects fully financed. As a thank you he formed the “Kicking It Forward” initiative (http://kickingitforward.org), promising to back other projects for 5% of whatever budget he’ll receive through his Kickstarter campaigns. This concept quickly grew in popularity within Kickstarter community and got more than 200 other successfully funded projects to commit as well.  This resulted in a lot of socially responsible projects, overlooked by media but amazing in concept, get the proper funding. What’s more exciting, for certain projects this concept produced some unexpected outcomes.

KAZOPARK is an online virtual world project. Its Kickstarter campaign, also a part of the “Kicking It Forward” initiative, was launched just a few days ago, but got fully funded within the first 48 hours. The twist - 90% of its pledges came from corporate investors, looking to promote their projects and services within the game. With 26 more days to go - project is estimated to get even more corporate funding. “We are overwhelmed with response we got. Currently we’re considering several public space transformation projects on Kickstarter to fulfill our ‘Kicking It Forward’ initiative duties”, says Kazopark director Kevin McGowan. So in other words - corporate investors has just supported forming of new parks while getting advertised.

The “Kicking It Forward” initiative is a great social trend in a fight for crowd-funding and every successfully funded project that supports it is a strong positive signal for Kickstarter community. Several strong new crowd-funding platforms have emerged after Kickstarter, but their communities are yet to form anything similar. To support the “Kicking It Forward” initiative and Kazopark project, please visit its Kickstarter page

New Book: Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World

Over the last year of writing my Forbes blog for the last year, I have had the opportunity to really dig deeply into the world of crowdfunding. I’ve just completed my first draft of my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World.

The book is a guide to successful crowdfunding for people who want to change the world.

The book is not a sequel to my book, Your Mark On The World, but it is written in the same spirit. I’ve studied a dozens of successful crowdfunding campaigns, interviewing the people behind them to learn their secrets for success.

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While I shouldn’t do this, I can save you the trouble of reading the book if that seems daunting to you: successful crowdfunding is a lot of work!

The book profiles ten people or organizations who have been remarkably successful with their crowdfunding efforts. 

For instance, Eight-year-old Vivienne Harr decided that she would make it her life’s work to end child slavery. Crowdfunding has helped her raise almost half-a-million dollars to do it.

As another example, Martha Griffen wanted to help her son, born with a birthmark on his face, to learn to celebrate what makes him different, so she wrote a book called Sam’s Birthmark and crowdfunded over $31,000 to publish it.

Jennifer Windrum wants to provide support to those who suffer from cancer, creating her Sock Monkeys Against Cancer—SMAC! Monkeys—financing her vision with $35,000 she raised through crowdfunding. 

This book distills the lessons from successful social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations into actionable and practical steps that anyone can follow to raise money for their dream of changing the world.

JOBS ACT Title II for Accrediteds NOT MUCH HELP for Entrepreneurs

Guest post from Howard Leonhardt, founder of the California Stock Exchange.

The number of accredited angel investors in the USA declined 15.8% to 268,000 in 2012*.  Less than 35% of these 268,000 potential investors or 93,800 have any interest in seed stage investments.   Of these 93,800 potential seed stage investors less than 33% of these have any interest to invest in a company where they do not personally know the founders.  This leaves 30,954 for the all the startups in the USA to chase with the enactment of the JOBS ACT Title II permitting general solicitation.   Of this remaining 30,954 61% of their investments will go into healthcare, software and biotech.  If you are not in these limited categories then you are down to chasing 12,072 potential pre-qualified angel investors nationwide.
This very limited exclusive group of angel investors interested in seed stage investments and open to investing in people they do not know personally are already the most over-shopped group of people in the history of planet earth.  Every distressed real estate deal is already coming their way.  Every artificially depressed value pink sheet public company that fell off of NASDAQ is coming their way.  Every angel group has already recruited them to join their lists.  They receive probably two dozen emails a day with offers already. Opening this group up to MORE general solicitation advertisements is going to do absolutely nothing to improve the funding of our startup enterprises.   We need full fledged crowdfunding to be implemented, as passed by house 407 to 17 in November of 2011 and the Senate shortly thereafter, which was signed into law the President in April 2012 with a strict mandate by the congress and the President that the SEC implement it by no later than December 31, 2012.   This will open up entrepreneurs to access millions of new investors, which is what is needed for economic and job growth. 

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