Tips and inspiration for changemakers from the social impact crowdfunding website, StartSomeGood

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Social Enterprise Virtual Summit

We’re pretty sure this guy is checking out a Virtual Summit.

With so many global challenges, individuals are constantly seeking to create the change they want to see in the world. We believe everyone can be a changemaker, and our platform enables those who are ready to take action. However, we also believe that it is important to give anyone the skills, knowledge and motivation to turn ideas into a reality.

To help with this, we’re going to be hosting a Social Enterprise Virtual Summit. This will be a series of video interviews related to social entrepreneurship, from social entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We already have some of our own ideas, but we want to hear from you!

What would you like to learn about? Are there certain topics you’re interested in? What would help you in your journey?

Who would you like to hear from? This can be anyone who inspires you or who is the best at what they do.

We want to make this the best experience for you, so share your thoughts here!

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This week in Social Entrepreneurship: November 25 2016

Crowdfunding campaign of the week: Bikes for Good in Adelaide, Australia

Crowdfunding campaign of the week: Bikes for Good in Adelaide, Australia

The amount of news and information and stories that get published today is pretty overwhelming, even in a niche (albeit one becoming increasingly mainstream) like social entrepreneurship. We try to keep our fingers on the pulse but it’s harder and harder to keep up! But as long as we’re trying anyway we figured we should curate what we find to make it easier for the rest of you. To help with this we’ve decided to re-start our This Week in Social Entrepreneurship column.

Each week we’ll collect the most interesting and exciting opportunities, news and stories as a cheat-sheet for you to stay on-top of what’s happening our thriving sector. We hope you find it useful! See details on how to share your news with us at the bottom.

Before we start let us wish our US team and community a very happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for all the amazing work you all do to create a better future.

Opportunities & Events


Chivas Regal’s The Venture Deadline for UK Social Enterprises is November 30

The deadline for UK entrants to Chivas Regal’s The Venture is next week! Put yourself in the running for $1,000,000 and plenty of other exposure and support.

Purpose Conference, Sydney, December 5-6

Purpose is returning after a wonderful initial conference last year (which our CEO Tom spoke at) for another deep dive into the world of purpose-driven business. There’s a few tickets left!

SEFA Crowdmatch – turning crowdfunding into investment.

This is for early stage Australian social enterprises with a track record and good growth prospects. If approved for the program you will have the opportunity to prove that there is community support for your enterprise by raising at least $25,000 on StartSomeGood to qualify for a loan of $50,000+ to fuel your growth, turning $25,000 into at least $75,000!

News, Reports, Insights


Words With Hearts Wins Australian leg of The Venture

Congratulations to Words With Heart who won the Australian leg of Chivas Regal’s social enterpirse competition The Venture this week! Words With Heart is a StartSomeGood alum, as were two others of the five finalists. We’re very proud of all of them.


Why Philanthropy is the Best Kind of Risk Capital

Great post by Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund, on why patient capital is so important in building the social enterprise sector.


Your Guide to Impact Investing

Very helpful introduction for the “non-billionaire” potential impact investor (guessing that’s most of you reading this) from our friend and Forbes columnist Devin Thorpe.



After the election… is a time for social entrepreneurs

Our CEO Tom Dawkins sent this message to our team last week sharing his thoughts on the election of Donald Trump and the role of social entrepreneurs to create a better community. We thought you might like to read it also.


A Startup Transforming Shipping Containers Into Tiny Affordable Housing

The one year old non-profit, called Rejuve will upcycle and repurpose some of the more than 760,000 unused shipping containers at ports and other places to place them in abandoned lots and other blighted properties where there’s already the utility infrastructure in place for dwelling. She calls them Plug-in-Pods.


A Food Truck That Serves Up Gourmet Food And Drinks — And Jobs For Refugees

Refuge Coffee is a nonprofit gourmet food truck that employees refugees resettled in Clarkston, Ga., and provides job training and networking opportunities within the community.


The American student who gave Cambodian children a chance to get clean

Samir Lakhani, an American student who previously saw a Cambodian woman washing her child with detergent 2 years ago. Now, he’s already supplying villagers with a safe way to keep clean, and also with jobs.


Got something you think we should include in future This Week in Social Entrepreneurships? Send it to us at hello at with “TWISE” in the subject line.

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After the election…


The Darcy St Coffee Project showing what community looks like.

This was originally sent by StartSomeGood CEO Tom Dawkins to our team last week. After a great response it was decided to share it more widely. It has been edited only very slightly for this wider audience.

I would not presume to know the politics of everyone who gets involved in StartSomeGood. But from conversations over recent days, I know that some of us, and I’ll own up to being in this group, are shocked by the recent US election results and worried about the implications for the future.

However you feel about election results, I think it’s really important to remember that there’s only so much that we can ever expect our political leaders to do, and so much that we as citizens must do with or without them. If you’re worried about what Trump means for the future America, then realize the importance now more than ever of the kind of infrastructure that we are building to support citizens to create change for their own communities, without requiring permission from traditional gatekeepers of social change, such as governments, foundations, and the well-off.

StartSomeGood is about citizen leadership to create the future that we all want. Now of course governments have an important role, and there are issues that only government can work with, or can only work on at the scale required, but there is so much that we can do to create the changes that we seek directly, and indeed, things that citizens can do that government simply can’t do. You can’t legislate against fear and resentment, you can’t legislate to end sexism and racism, but you can reach out to people, build communities, build trust, educate and create connections that change people’s perspectives and sense of what’s possible. These local actions can create the kind of community that we all want to live in, one that is more fair, safe, prosperous and connected.

This is what crowdfunding makes possible for so many communities around the world, and this is why we do what we do. Because whatever happens at a political level people need to realize their own power to affect change. We live in the greatest time in human history for citizen-initiated change. Never before have we had such an incredible collection of tools that enable us to share our stories, collaborate with one another, and make a real impact on people’s lives.

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly important part of the changemakers’ toolkit, and that’s why we’re going to keep doing what we do to build better tools, make them more accessible, and teach people how to use them so that communities can create the future that they need for themselves.

Because whatever our political leaders may promise us, there is no one person who alone can “save us.” We can only do that for ourselves, together.

Thank you for everything you’re doing to advance this vision and enhance this possibility for changemakers in America, Australia and dozens of countries around the world.

And to anyone now reading this, and especially to the entrepreneurs, activists and community groups launching projects on StartSomeGood, thank you for stepping forward, sharing your dream and daring to make a difference.

Whatever you do, don’t feel defeated. This is a time for social entrepreneurs. A time for activists. A time for changemakers. And when you step forward to take on the hard work of social change, we will do everything we can to support you to succeed. Because we’re all in this together.

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Pitch for Good Adelaide showcases local social enterprises



We were recently in Adelaide co-hosting Pitch for Good Adelaide with Adelaide City Council, our live-pitching-meets-crowdfunding model which we’ve previously run in Melbourne and Parramatta.

Pitch for Good is a showcase of great local social enterprises, in this case three ventures graduating from Adelaide’s Social Venture Incubator, and serves as the launch for their crowdfunding campaigns on StartSomeGood. Attendees got to allocate their ticket fee towards the enterprise(s) of their choice and these funds were matched by Open State, for which we are very grateful. Thanks also to Adelaide City Council and to Lord Mayor Martin Haese for his address on the night, Moira Deslandes for her logistical and promotional support and to everyone who came along on the night.

Now it’s up to you! All three ventures have tipping points beyond what was raised on the night and are seeking the support they need to launch or expand. Their models serve refugees, under-employed women and later-career entrepreneurs using biking, food and co-working, so please chip in to the one that speaks to you most!

Harvest Fair

Harvest Fair is a social enterprise which uses the power of good food to advance gender equity in Australia.



Adelaide Bike Kitchen

Spreading the benefit of cycling to those in need.



Catalyst Collaborative

The Catalyst Collaborative Coworking Community – A place and space to make business happen!



We are looking forward to more Pitch for Good events in more places next year so if you want to bring Pitch for Good to your town please get in touch!

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Practical Tips for Key Social Media Platforms

An excerpt from social entrepreneur and best-selling author Darian Heyman’s book Nonprofit Fundraising 101.


Ask questions. If your post ends in a question mark instead of a period, you can expect twice as many likes, comments, and shares; the currency in today’s “attention economy.”

Use photos and videos. Typically, you’ll generate twice as many likes, comments, and shares if your post includes a photo, four times as many with a video. If you use a video on a crowdfunding campaign, according to crowdfunding platform Razoo, you’re likely to receive eight times the amount of donations!

Use the right photos. Since people will likely only see the small thumbnail version of your photo, cut out the background and use cropping to zoom in on one subject. Ideally, use photos with pictures of people or animals, and focus on faces. As author Guy Kawasaki likes to say, “ABC: Always Be Cropping.” Don’t use boring photos—instead of people posing next to a house they just built, use an action photo of them carrying a ladder or building a roof. Use photos that capture your work in action and convey a sense of impact.

Promote the right posts. If you have a budget and choose to do promoted posts on Facebook, choose posts that have the best response rates, rather than promoting donation requests and other posts that fall flat. This may seem counter-intuitive, but your resources are best spent promoting posts that have proven to be most engaging.

Keep it short. Ideally, under 80 characters. found a 66 percent increase in engagement when you get to the point.

Learn about your donors. Upload your email or donor list and see how many of them are on Facebook. You can use Facebook Ads to gain invaluable donor segmentation information about them, including household income, home ownership, device use, how active they are on Facebook, how much they engage with your posts, etc. The more you know about your donors, the better equipped you are to effectively engage and solicit them!

Reply to comments. Again, think of social media as a digital cocktail party. If someone at a party says, “Hey, nice dress,” you need to say “thank you” and reply back. If someone posts a comment or asks a question, reply in a polite and conversational manner.

Leverage Facebook Insights. To succeed at engaging people, you need to listen. Insights is a free analytics tool that allows you to analyze your posts and how they perform, that is, how many likes, comments, and shares or retweets they receive. It will also help you determine when the majority of your users are online, which can help you plan the timing of your posts. (Facebook Insights is accessed through a tab at the top of your page when you’re signed in as an administrator.)


Ask for retweets. Include the term “Please Retweet,” often abbreviated as “Pls RT,” to significantly increase the percentage of people who share your posts.

Use photos, videos, and links. Just as with Facebook, this will encourage people to spend a few more seconds with your content and increase the likelihood that they share it.

Recruit influencers. Twitter is a great place to make initial contact with donor prospects and key influencers like celebrities, leading academics, journalists, and bloggers. But before asking VIPs to support you, build up your social capital by retweeting them and writing comments on their posts.

Get your leadership active. Having your executive director and other leaders active on Twitter develops additional communication outlets for your organization and can establish them as thought leaders in your field.

Use keywords. Add keywords and hashtags to your profile so that people interested in your cause will find you when they search. Using these in your posts will also help people who aren’t following you find your content and organization. Create a hashtag. Come up with a short yet descriptive hashtag to include in many of your posts. Ideally, it’s something that others in the field can adopt as well, promoting your thought leadership. For example, Social Media for Nonprofits launched #SM4NP, which is now widely adopted by others in the industry.

Use lists. Lists help you easily screen content and manage different categories of users. For example, if you are a breast cancer organization, lists can help you easily look at what’s trending from breast cancer bloggers, pharmaceutical companies, academics, journalists, competitors, as well as things like campaign hashtags.

Use tools. Social media tools like Hootsuite will help you manage mentions, scheduling, and lists. Use tools like Klout (available as a Hootsuite plug-in) and BuzzSumo to identify key influencers in your field, so you know who to cultivate and prioritize.

Be active in the Twitter community. Twitter is a circular economy. Participate in Follow Fridays by sharing the handles of other leaders and organizations in your field on Fridays and including “#FF” in your posts to gain social capital. If someone mentions you with an @ sign, especially if it’s an influencer, you should definitely take the time to retweet it and thank the person.


Get your board and volunteers to link to you. When people include you in their profiles, it gives you additional exposure, and since this is a relatively new feature and not many nonprofits are using it, you will stand out.

Ask questions. People on LinkedIn tend to be very engaged, and you can receive well-thought-out answers to robust and complex questions. This will help you to build conversations and further engage people.

Start a Group. You can create a LinkedIn Group for free, which is a great way to mobilize and engage your community of interest. Invite people to join and make sure to post content, questions, or links to a blog post or article at least twice a month.

Ask for testimonials. Ask past employers, partners, and clients to write testimonials for your organization and on your personal profile. This provides credibility and reinforces your expertise.


Create “Call to Action” overlays. YouTube offers nonprofits free access to this service, which increases subscriptions by 400 percent by creating a pop-up window inviting visitors to subscribe or even donate.

Keep it short. Keep your videos on YouTube and crowdfunding sites short, ideally 90 to 120 seconds. This will result in people watching the video when they first see it, instead of being daunted and saving it for later, which usually means they’ll never watch it.


Use hashtags. Just as on Twitter and Facebook, hashtags are a great way to create a conversation and create more avenues to your presence.

Focus on faces. The photos that typically receive the best response are close-ups of people’s faces and animals. Remember Guy Kawasaki’s ABC: Always Be Cropping.

Use action shots. As mentioned in the Facebook tips, instead of staged pictures, use images of people in action, delivering impact.


Girl power. Pinterest is a great place to reach women, as they’re two thirds of their audience, which recently surpassed 100 million users a month.

Get visual. This platform is best suited for visuals and infographics, both for finding and posting.

Darian Rodriguez Heyman is an accomplished fundraiser, social entrepreneur, and best-selling author. His work “helping people help” started during his five-year tenure as Executive Director of Craigslist Foundation, after which he edited the best-selling book, Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals (Wiley & Sons) and co-founded the global conference series, Social Media for Nonprofits and Sparrow: Mobile for All. His new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, is the first truly comprehensive yet practical guide to all aspects of fundraising for your cause, and chapters 15 – 18 are dedicated to online giving. Heyman is also an in-demand fundraising consultant and a frequent keynote speaker at social impact events around the globe.


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Social Entrepreneurship with Simon Sinek: An Except from Rank & File Magazine

An excerpt from Rank & File magazine.


Award winning author, motivational speaker and leadership guru Simon Sinek, who uses the power of storytelling with a parable-like quality, first planted his concepts of “Start With Why” and “The Golden Circle” into the hearts of our corporate executives back in 2009, spawning one of the most popular TED Talks of all time.

To date, Simon has penned two best sellers — “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” and “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.” Beyond writing, Simon works as an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world, and he regularly comments for respected local and national media outlets like NPR and The New York Times.

Accolades aside, Simon embodies his teachings. He is approachable, humble and generous with his time. These character traits are exactly what made Rank & File aspire to sit down with Simon to discuss social entrepreneurialism, including the biggest mistakes that social entrepreneurs make, why cultivating inner character is a critical step in the leadership journey, and how leaders should become guiding “Cause Holders” for their companies. During our interview, we spoke in length about the benefits and dangers in the growing social enterprise trend — a topic about which Simon holds some strong opinions.

“I like the idea of social entrepreneurship, but to fully embrace the goodness of social entrepreneurship you have to treat everyone right,” he told Rank & File. “Not just the chosen receivers of your goodness.”

Simon went on to explain that he thinks the term “social enterprise” may be thrown around too loosely. From Simon’s view, the key to developing a successful and impact-driven social enterprise is to first look internally before projecting externally. Practically, this means focusing heavily on your company’s foundational values and character and allowing this core element to act as the lead domino for all of your outward-facing programs.

“You have all these well-intended young entrepreneurs out there [wanting] to do something of social importance, looking externally,” said Simon. “And yet, while building their companies, they may mistreat their own people. It’s like being a child psychologist but abusing your own children. It doesn’t make sense. And so I find it fascinating how people can be so obsessed with an external while ignoring the internal. To be good at anything, in any company, it has to start from within.”

This challenge comes at an opportune time, as thousand of young people approach social entrepreneurialism with a new enlightenment to accomplish social good through their startups. So what are the keys then to fully embrace the calling of our responsibilities as social entrepreneurs? How do we go forth as strong leaders that focus internally when we may be fighting to keep all the wheels on our fragile businesses in the marketplace? Sinek’s teachings challenge us to dig deep.

In the spirit of shifting our perspectives to focus on the internal rather than the external, Simon encourages us to cultivate humility.

We social entrepreneurs have a tendency to view our business models as superior to mainstream programs and organizations. Indeed, we are often guilty of forming cliques and belittling traditional methods of conducting business and outreach.

From Simon’s perspective, abandoning this superiority complex and developing humility will actually allow us to have greater social impact, both personally and professionally.

“[Having] the word ‘social’ in your product or business [mission] doesn’t actually mean that you are a good company,” said Simon. “And not doing those [social good] things doesn’t make you a bad company. You can make any type of widget and treat people right. And the people who work for you will have better marriages, treat their kids better, and treat people that they interact with on a daily basis better, and they will have a great impact on the community.”

Simon didn’t disparage the value of social entrepreneurship or individuals’ desires to achieve social outcomes through their business models. Yet, his advice cuts through the hype often associated with the social good sector, reminding us to get back to the core — the ABC’s, so to speak — of what it means to be a social entrepreneur. Among other things, having a humble attitude entails respecting traditional business models who conduct their affairs with integrity and treat their employees and stakeholders with dignity.

Become a Holder of Your Cause.

In the social enterprise space, we hear a lot about “social innovation,” especially as it relates to sustainable energy and technology. But what do we mean when we use the term? Usually, we’re describing a tangible, specifically applied approach to making change through new models while challenging norms and bureaucracies, achieving new levels of efficiency, and defending the inherent rights and dignity of human beings.

However, Simon pointed out that these models are only social enterprise products. He developed this idea using a classic example: Apple.

“The product, no matter what it is, is just the manifestation of an underlying cause,” he said. “Steve Jobs’ obsession was empowering people to stand up to the status quo. That was their cause. The personal computer was the manifestation of their cause — a product that gave an individual power to compete against a corporation.”

Next came the iPhone. Prior to Apple, cell phone functionality was determined by cell service providers. “Apple showed up and said, ‘No, we are going to tell you what the phone will do,’’ placing all of the power into the hands of cell phone manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers themselves. With the development of the iPhone, Apple challenged the status quo yet again, fulfilling one of Jobs’ core values.

“The key for Apple and all of us is not confusing our innovations or our products as our cause,” said Simon. “They are three separate things. Innovation doesn’t come from our social desire to give and solve world poverty, although it’s a great thing to do. The innovation comes from actually having a disposition, actually having a cause, and actually having a why…”

Remember that your social innovation models and your solutions to problems are not your cause. They are your products and services.

Identify your root cause. What is your underlying motivation for developing these innovative products and services? Dig deep — past the tangible, past your approach, past your mission statement, and past your goals and objectives. Ask yourself “Why?” again and again until you know what underlying motivation or belief is fueling your efforts. Then keep your cause at the forefront of everything that you do…

The full version of this story, including Simon’s 7 Steps for Students of Leadership, is available in Rank & File Magazine. Rank & File is much more than a magazine. They are a community of risk-takers, like you, who believe people are worth serving and business can create change. Download the Rank & File App for Apple and Android today to start reading for free.

Photos in this article courtesy of © Simon Sinek, Inc.

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7 Reasons StartSomeGood Has the Highest Success Rate in Crowdfunding


When we started StartSomeGood, it was because we saw a real need for a platform designed specifically for social entrepreneurs. We saw the existing crowdfunding platforms, and knew we could craft something better to get better results.

And that’s exactly what we did. When you start a crowdfunding campaign with StartSomeGood you have the better chance of success than with any other platform*. Here are 7 reasons why:

1. We were created by social entrepreneurs, for social entrepreneurs.

Who knows what a social entrepreneur needs better than another social entrepreneur? Before we put pen to paper, we sat down and discussed what challenges we had faced in securing funding for changemaking projects. We talked about how raising money for social good is different than raising month for other projects. And then we created a product specifically designed to meet those needs.

2. We have a unique tipping point model.

“What in hell is a tipping point?” –question we get a lot.  Sometimes people have no idea, and sometimes people think we’re talking about that Malcolm Gladwell book. But no, the tipping point is our unique approach to structuring a crowdfunding campaign.

With some crowdfunding platforms you don’t get your donations unless you fully meet your goal, which can be challenging to project creators: should they make the goal the full amount needed, or go with a lower number that will still effect change?

With other crowdfunding platforms you get all the donations no matter what, which can be a deterrent for backers: if a project doesn’t get the full amount, what happens to their donation? Can the project use it for whatever they way?

So we found a better way: the tipping point. Projects set two goals: the first “tipping” point is an amount of money necessary to start good. The second “stretch goal” is the amount to fully fund the project.

With two checkpoints, entrepreneurs can be ambitious with their goals, and backers can know exactly where their donation is going.

3. We give you the best advice and support.

Helping project succeed is so important to us, we have a global team dedicated to it. When you start a project with StartSomeGood, you’ll be assigned a designated team member who can help you optimize your pitch and help solve any problems you encounter. This personal touch is a key to our success rate.

4. We back the organizations and entrepreneurs that back themselves.

StartSomeGood helps entrepreneurs in many ways: our beautiful website, sharing tools, linking your campaign to our community, our global support team, etc. All of these tools are important, but the most important factor to success is the commitment of the entrepreneurs and organizations using our site and their ability to inspire a community around them. We simply do our best to help boost their efforts.

5. We have the most dedicated team in the business.

As mentioned, StartSomeGood was created by social entrepreneurs, and we have been staffed by social entrepreneurs ever since. From our web team to our communications team to our support team, our staff and volunteers are passionate about creating lasting social change, which means they are passionate about helping you succeed.

6. We have innovative partnerships to help you double your money.

We partner with businesses, foundations and governments to boost the funds raised by selected social benefit projects on our site, often by providing up to half your funding goal up-front. This is called “Crowdmatch.”

Crowdmatch sees a funding partner support a group of projects either from the start of their crowdfunding campaign, by providing up to half of the funds they are seeking, which then needs to be matched by the community, or at the end, based on meeting specific goals.

The goal of Crowdmatch is to better connect philanthropic giving with community aspirations and impact investing with market input.

The combination gives social entrepreneurs and nonprofits the best chance to raise the funds and rally the community backing they need to do good, while making institutional funding more targeted and impactful.

7. We’re a certified B Corp.

Okay we’re not actually sure this boosts your success rate but it does mean that when you succeed you can feel good about who you are partnered with. B Corp is a global holistic certification for companies that act in the best interests of people and planet. There are now more than 1500 B Corps globally and we’re proud to be one of them! Find out more about B Corps here.


Ultimately, what this all comes down to is that we really care about helping you raise the funds you need to change the world. Many crowdfunding platforms, including in the social change sector, are not optimized to do this. Their focus tends to be launching as many projects as possible with as light a touch as possible, even if the vast majority then fall short of their goals. But we’re not into that. We work with few projects at a time but we actually work with you to help you reach your goals, because it’s only when you reach your fundraising goals that you can launch your project to change the world, and that’s what we’re here for!

So, let’s change the world together!

Want to change the world together_001

If you need to raise funds to change the world, we’d love to help. Just click “Start a Project” on our homepage and tell us what you’re working on!

*Source: Entrepreneur Magazine, January 2016. Platforms reviewed were Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Fundrazr, Crowdfunder and Rockethub.