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

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This week in Social Entrepreneurship: News and Events for you!


Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and prosperous New Year!

By now, we trust your holiday celebrations are in full swing. We hope you are all enjoying! Before you get into it again, we listed down some links we hope you find useful.

Opportunities and Events

Intro to Social Enterprise – Wellington (7 February 2017) 

What is a social enterprise? If you want to gain a better understanding, this is just the workshop for you. It will cover topics such as what you need, what to expect, and how to start. Tickets range from $10 – $20.

Social Enterprise for Not-for-Profits – Christchurch (15 March 2017) 

Akina Foundation brings you Social Enterprise for Not-for-Profits. Get your tickets from $10-$20 and learn all about growing income and creating new enterprises in this sphere at a three-hour interactive workshop.

Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise 2017 (May 10-12, 2017)

Mark your calendars for the sixth annual 3-day Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise 2017 from May 10 to 12. It will be held in Winnipeg and is brought to you by The Social Enterprise Council of Canada together with CCEDNET Manitoba. It will be a national learning experience that will allow you to dive in with local social enterprises in the area. Stay tuned on their site for registration details and early bird ticket availability.

Fledge9 (April – June 2017)

Fledge9 returns to Seattle next April-June. 10 weeks of intense guidance and education, a flood of mentors, introductions to potential partners and investors, plus at least $20,000 in cash.

All mission-driven for-profit startup from raw idea through $1 million in revenues are welcome to apply, from anywhere around the world.

If not yourself, then tell a friend. Word of mouth is how most fledglings find Fledge, and thus we need your help to spread the word.

Details at: Applications due by January 7th, 2017.


News, Reports, Insights

Social Entrepreneurs Can Transform Southeast Asia

Read about Forbes Magazine’s take on how social entrepreneurs can transform and make waves in developing economies.

This is What Social Responsibility Entrepreneurship Looks Like 

Huffington Post talks about a recent Hack-a-thon seminar in Boston and how the bright participants came up with tech-oriented solutions to social challenges.

Big firms can enhance social mobility in 2017 by committing to buy from social enterprises 

This article looks into “buying social” and how it can help improve Britain’s equality and social inclusion.



5 Social Entrepreneurship Essentials

Whether it is hope, audacity, or dealing with disappointment, this article walks you through dealing with the ups and downs and emotions you need to face as a social entrepreneur.

Celebrating the Unbreakable Tenacity of Women Entrepreneurs 

Read about how women have been making waves in the world of entrepreneurship.


For links and suggestions, send us a message at with “TWISE” in the subject line. We greatly value your input!


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Interview Spotlight: Girl Academy

An interview with the team from Girl Academy. They are working to empower Indigenous teenage mothers to make positive choices by giving young women a safe, supportive and nurturing environment to complete their education – with their babies being cared for in an on-site nursery.


Why did you decide to crowdfund?

Girl Academy has captured the minds of the public since it launched in January 2016. Following widespread positive coverage in the print media, television & online news portals, we received many enquiries from people asking about how they could contribute. Holding a crowdfunding campaign seemed like the best way to give as many people as possible the chance to join our mission to empower young girls through education.

How are you keeping the momentum for your campaign going?

We are going to keep rolling the ball along. We’re two thirds of the way to our stretch target of $50k to fund the nursery for a year, but we are not going to kick our heels back and relax. We plan to keep posting updates on social media, reaching out to friends and family, contacting the media and key influencers, and so on. Our goal is to make sure we don’t stop creating interest and buzz to keep the campaign on the front pages.


What kind of support do changemakers in your community need?

Change needs more than commitment from a handful of people driving a single initiative; it requires commitment from each and every level in the community – in every organisation, in every family. The more people committing to making positive choices for themselves and their families, the more likely we as a community will be successful in making that change.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is about bringing out the best in people – Inspiring the people around you to dream big, and empowering them to take the right steps towards turning their dreams to reality.


Why did you choose StartSomeGood as your partner?

In our early conversations with StartSomeGood (SSG), Jeshri, our project manager, came on board very enthusiastically with tons of tips and expertise. The SSG team easily identified with the need to empower Indigenous young women to make positive life choices for themselves and their babies. We felt that having such a capable and supportive team was extremely important to make the campaign a success

What’s your number one piece of advice for people who want to make a positive impact?

Be stubborn and cleave to your vision. It’s easy to get frustrated when you face a road block, so one should always celebrate small successes, and remember that little steps can add up to make a huge impact.

To learn more about Girl Academy, or to pledge support, visit here.

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Tipping Point: What it is, why it works.

NotjustAnotherPlatform_series_final (3)

In the earliest days of designing StartSomeGood, we had to make a decision about how to structure our fundraising model. We looked at other crowdfunding sites and debated whether to adopt the Kickstarter-style “all-or-nothing” model (where campaigns only receive funds if they’ve hit their goal) or IndieGoGo’s “keep what you raise” model (where campaigns receive all funds raised, regardless of goal).

But when looking at the priorities of our users and contributors, both models seemed to be lacking.

What if, we wondered, we could combine the best features of both and create a model uniquely designed for social entrepreneurs.  And thus the idea for the Tipping Point was born.

What is the Tipping Point, and how can design your campaign to take advantage of it?

On StartSomeGood you nominate two fundraising goals: your total goal and your Tipping Point goal. Your total goal is the dream amount you would like to raise to start the maximum amount of good. The Tipping Point is the all-or-nothing component of your campaign: this is the target you must reach in order to receive your pledges.

Why is this better for social entrepreneurs?

Because this is what we already do when we fundraise for community projects. I’ve spent my whole adult life involved in this process: designing projects, writing grant applications and fundraising from my community.  The target amounts for these campaigns usually represented our dream budget, with everything we felt would give us the greatest chances of success. They were ambitious stretch goals. But there was a second amount we always had in mind: the minimum amount we needed to start good.

For example, if we were trying to raise $15,000 for a project, we might be prepared to launch even if we only raised $10,000, cutting out some of the non-essential elements, or running a more limited pilot. This amount was the minimum we felt we needed to start good, the point at which we were prepared to get out there and make things happen.

The Tipping Point model makes these dual targets visible and transparent. The ability to list the Stretch Goal while highlighting the effect of incremental amounts raised beyond Tipping has the added effect of compelling donors to keep donating once you have reached fundraising goals.

We ask entrepreneurs to consider how much money is enough for them to commit to starting good. Because however well-intentioned, you can’t always start something from nothing. Even with all the volunteer support and community good-will in the world, some things cost money. Which is why having an all-or-nothing component of the campaign is important: changemakers can’t be expected to implement their vision regardless of the support they receive. 

Having a Tipping Point gives both donors and entrepreneurs security of outcome: your money only goes to the project if they have sufficient funds to deliver on their commitments, and entrepreneurs aren’t expected to work miracles if this support isn’t there.

Why not just have a single all-or-nothing goal?

Because with an all-or-nothing goal entrepreneurs tend to be expressing only this lower, minimal goal, fearful of aiming for too much, falling short and getting nothing. We want to allow social entrepreneurs to express more ambitious goals without risking everything. This ensures projects can more clearly express the social impact made possible by different levels of funding rather than just a single amount.

Tipping Points must represent the real Tipping Points in projects.

If your goal is to launch a program in two cities you can easily launch in just one if you only raise half your total goal. But if your project involves the purchase of a bus, you cannot simply buy half a bus if you fall short. Hence the Tipping Point.

It can help to show a general breakdown of costs to demonstrate how you arrived at your goals and your preparedness to take action. Though granular detail is certainly not required, transparency helps to build trust with potential donors. 

They also represent the amount of risk you are prepared to take on.

Do you go for the dream amount but risk falling short or identify a more modest goal which would still allow you to start some good? In evaluating this remember that the game dynamic of Tipping Points is very powerful: with funds already raised on the line your community is more likely to rally around your goal at the deadline to get you over the line.

This is partly because Tipping Points work like a matching grant – you use the funds pledged from your initial supporters to inspire your less-fervent supporters to chip in, increasing the impact of their contribution as you approach your Tipping Point.

We are committed to giving social entrepreneurs flexibility in designing their campaign, trusting that they understand better than us what is required to create the change they seek in their communities. Just as StartSomeGood welcomes all forms of social change initiatives, non-profit, for profit and unincorporated, we also allow each campaign to choose what component of their campaign is all-or-nothing, i.e. the placement of the Tipping Point, which can be between 25 and 100% of the total project goal.

We are always here to help you think through these issues and design a campaign that works best for you.

If you are ready to start some good, click here.

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Community Helps You Reach Your Goals


“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs

At StartSomeGood, we love the crazy ones, the innovators, the change-makers. If that sounds like you, we will do everything we can to help you succeed. If you’re committed to achieving your goal, we’re committed to helping you get there.

StartSomeGood exists to help as many social entrepreneurs and community groups meet their funding goals as possible. We were founded to help foster innovation and support new changemakers.

We do that in a number of ways: by providing a beautiful, easy-to-use website with great fundraising and sharing tools; by working hard to give great advice and coaching; and by linking your campaign to great funding opportunities and a community of potential supporters who care about creating a better future.

When you start a project with StartSomeGood, you’ll have access to our global support team to help shape and optimize your campaign. Once you launch, we’ll be sharing your campaign through our social media channels and looking for opportunities to promote your project to media and partners.

Our community is filled with people who – like you – strive to make the world better. Like you, they’re interested in new approaches to creating social change and inspired by the entrepreneurs and organizations stepping forward to make it happen. If you’re launching a social enterprise or fundraising for a social cause this is a much more targeted and relevant community than arts-focused or generalist platforms.

But none of these factors alone are why we have one of the very best campaign success rates of any crowdfunding platform. It’s because of 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.

And it’s not just helping via advice or cheering you on, we’ve designed StartSomeGood with a model that we believe helps you succeed, and key to that is our unique Tipping Point model, which combines the best elements of traditional “All or Nothing” and “Keep What You Raise” crowdfunding.

In particular, it is far superior to “Keep What You Raise” in helping projects reach their goals. That’s what we mean by being committed to reaching your goal. You put a line in the sand and commit to raising the funding you need to make your campaign really happen, which gives potential donors the confidence to know that their funds will really go towards an activity they care about.

Our model, advice and support helps you optimize your crowdfunding campaign to give you the best chance of success. But don’t take our word for it. Listen to what past campaigners and current community members have to say:

“Trek To Teach is growing faster than I anticipated and without a doubt, that is because of StartSomeGood’s support” – Brad Hurwitz, Founder Trek to Teach

“I really appreciate the quick feedback. I love StartSomeGood and I look forward to future campaigns and paying it forward by supporting other social entrepreneurs!” – Brandon Greene, Out the Mouths of Babes

So what are you waiting for? Start your project today and get access to our superb change-making community and team. Start now. 

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Grow Your Idea with Labs and Competitions

All around the world incubators and accelerators are helping social entrepreneurs move from idea to start-up and scale-up. There are labs and competitions sewn into the infrastructure of building business for good. Think you might be ready to give your idea a boost? Check out the options below to see what’s possible and where you might find good advice and support to grow you, your idea and your social enterprise.


Singularity University

According to Singularity’s program leader Pascal Finette:

“The [SU Labs Accelerator] program is comprised of several two-week-long sprints and boot camps, is designed for early stage companies to quickly ramp up and prepare for the challenging but rewarding road ahead as entrepreneurs.”

Participants learn and develop using technologies rooted in biotech, artificial intelligence, hyperspectral imaging, and more. Each start-up works on the big — a big idea, a big global challenge, a big solution.  The program works with the teams, and the teams work with each other.

During the last program, one team was focusing on tracking pollution from our planet using hyperspectral imaging and satellites, with the goal of becoming Google Earth for global pollution. Called Hypercube, the team— Brian Yen Yang Lim, Fabio Teixeira Santos (Australia) — are using low-cost satellites and sensors capable of tracking pollution on the entire surface of the planet to help companies understand and reduce their waste output and ecological footprint.

Singularity U

Students work in the Innovations Lab on the Singularity University campus.


Socialab works with ideas and partners to solve problems.  They run competitions for technology-based business proposals and then taps their virtual community of 300,000+ users to identify and fine-tune the best ideas. Founded in Chile, this Latin American not-for-profit has brought in a range of financial partners to support initiatives.  In 2015, Socialab whittled down 15,000 proposals to 111 products that they supported based on $2.1 million in grants, incubating 35 companies.

One of their recent projects, Urban Reclaimers, seeks to develop the potential of the recycling industry and contribute to improving the quality of life of urban recyclers. They are gathering ideas that impact the productivity of the recycling chain to generate higher levels of material recovery, improved quality of work and significant environmental benefits for all.  Check out this project here (in Spanish).


What do a prison sentence and an innovative communications platform have in common? A man named Frederick Hutson and a tech accelerator called NewME. Hutson’s story (read it here!) is proof that great ideas can strike in the unlikeliest of places, and that those ideas can flourish with the right partner.

After serving a 51-month prison sentence, Hutson knew there must be a better way to facilitate prison communications. And so he turned to NewME, a Silicon Valley-based residential tech accelerator for startups founded by underrepresented groups. NewME pioneered diversity  in Silicon Valley, and they focus their efforts on “out-of-the-box” entrepreneurs.  Since 2011, they have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build better businesses through their online platform, residential “boot-camp” accelerators, and equity portfolio.

With NewME, Hutson was able to launch an affordable communication platforms called Pigeonly to help inmates stay in contact with family and friends.


Frederick Hutson (right) and Alfonzo Brooks (left) at Pigeonly”s headquarters in Downtown Las Vegas. (Angel Canales/ABC News.)

Social Ventures Incubator

StartSomeGood is proud to be associated with a new initiative by capital city local council in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Social Ventures Incubator Program is a learning and development opportunity for early-stage social ventures, to develop their business models and impact to sustainably and improve community life. The program will work with up to 8 social ventures (individuals or teams of 2-3) to support the active development of their ventures through workshops, mentoring, peer-learning and digital platforms.

The unique program will give them the knowledge and practical skills to develop, test and launch their social venture.  Practical sessions with experienced social entrepreneurs and business professionals will cover areas such as social impact, pitching, business planning, legal obligations, and communications.

Applications are now open


Every learning journey will benefit from an intensive – this incubator program takes you on that intensive journey promises to bring your vocation on this planet to life and to the world! For the botanists among you, you will know that mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, its a network of fine white filaments. In this program you will grow those networks,and get you and your idea popping up all over the place.  Their program is looking for registrants who are imagineers, hackers, and change agents with courage, willing to engage their hearts and minds and not interested in what society tells them they can and can’t do. You will get to protype your idea and strategy in your own customised learning journey, be connected with thought leaders, capital and others who can help you and most importantly find your tribe!

Applications for the next program starting in July are now open and there is a virtual option for those now who can’t make it to Asheville, North Carolina.


The Venture

Chivas is more than a scotch whisky brand.  They also host a competition called The Venture, a $1M fund to empower extraordinary start-ups to use business to create positive change. Aligning profit with purpose is at the heart of this competition that includes access to some of the world’s top thinkers and has media partners such as Fast Company. In the current competition, more than 2,500 applicants have been whittled down to the final 27.  They are now preparing for their chance to pitch for a share of the $1M fund, which will also open doors to mentors and acceleration.

Meet the finalists here, including Pollinate Energy, a 2013 StartSomeGood success story! Pollinate Energy was founded by a group of young Australians passionate about social change and renewable energy with the primary aim of providing affordable energy products to the urban poor. The project started in Bangalore and uses a microfinance business model to fund a group of young entrepreneurs, who create green energy products such as solar lights and mobile phone chargers.



Verb runs competitions to help their clients solve complex social and environmental issues by tapping into the power of social entrepreneurs around the world. They use competitions and prizes to attract, mobilize and strengthen social ventures, while providing their clients with tangible business benefits. Using competitions as a platform, Verb is creating a diverse and large social impact community to facilitate connections between innovators and brands committed to addressing the planet’s most pressing problems. Based in Austin, they are supporting change all around the world.

For example, India-based Gyan Lab  seeks to engage 30k+ school students in innovation and customised learning in the sciences, technology, and mathematics.  One platform they have developed is called Kidovators, and is designed to enable primary school  to showcase their leadership skills, intuitiveness, and preparedness for life ahead.

The Search

Not all competitions are for individuals or teams. In 2015 an Australian competition was established for communities. The Search was catalyzed by Collaboration for Impact,and included early adapters such as Centre for Social Impact, Westpac Foundation, Result Leadership Group USA, Social Solutions Group,  Blackbaud PacificSocial Ventures AustraliaAustralian Communities Foundation with support from Impact Collective sub fund and Results Leadership Group Australia.

The most promising collective impact initiative that won in 2015 was Burnie Works, tackling unemployment and underemployment caused by entrenched social disadvantage and poor educational attainment. Leaders from industry, government, and the community have come together to focus on improving the engagement of all young people in education and their transition to employment. Follow Burnie’s story here.

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By Social Entrepreneurs, For Social Entrepreneurs


At StartSomeGood we are very clear on why we exist: to support social entrepreneurs, non-profits and community groups to rally the community support they need to make a difference.

This comes directly from our founders, Tom Dawkins and Alex Budak. It’s not just that they founded StartSomeGood with the intention of support world changing initiatives, it’s that they had founded such initiatives themselves previously and so intimately understood the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs and community groups to raise the funds they need to make a difference.

Prior to StartSomeGood Alex had founded a major student group at UCLA and Tom had founded award-winning Australian non-profit youth organization Vibewire. Over eight years Tom brought $1 million into Vibewire to fuel their innovative community-development projects, including opening the first co-working space in Australia.

Alex and Tom met working at global social entrepreneurship champion Ashoka in Washington, D.C. They shared a passion for the power of technology to support grassroots change and innovation. But the social innovation sector has a challenge: for the most part it’s not innovative enough. 

This is because funding for the sector traditionally comes from risk-adverse investors: government, corporate foundations, the wealthy. Most want to support “proven” innovation, but this isn’t real innovation at all. What was needed was an equivalent of “angel investors” for the social sector, prepared to back new ideas at the earliest stage and see what sort of impact they could create.

Inspired by the impact of Kickstarter who were solving a similar problem for creative entrepreneurs – how to go around the traditional gatekeepers and build a community of small-dollar supporters instead – Tom and Alex decided to give social entrepreneurs, and all organizations working for a better world, the same opportunity and support.

StartSomeGood exists to support social entrepreneurs, grassroots changemakers, and innovative organizations. We dream of a world where we innovate quicker and can find and scale the initiatives we need to build a better future for all of us, and where communities have access to the tools and support they need to build that future for themselves, rather than waiting for an outside authority to save them. This, to us, is democracy in action.

And everything we’ve done since then is focused on this mission.

This is why we invented the Tipping Point, because it gives innovation the best chance to succeed.This is why we provide the most meaningful support, why we hold ourselves accountable to helping you succeed before we earn any income, why we work with innovative partners like ING DIRECT, the City of Fremantle and the Foundation for Young Australians to give great social impact projects access to additional funding and support through our Crowdmatch program. This is why we are a B Corp, to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards.

This commitment to social entrepreneurs, social benefit projects and social change is ultimately why we have the best project success rate going, which means working with us gives you the best possible statistical chance of success. Not trying to boast, but it’s true.

StartSomeGood: Not just another crowdfunding platform.

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Announcing our angel funding round

Today is an incredible day. I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve closed a funding round with a couple of great investors and are excited to take an important step in our journey, which will include the launch of a new version of the StartSomeGood platform in June.

Leading the round is Trimantium Capital, a Melbourne-based technology and impact investment management company led by serial entrepreneur Phillip Kingston, who is joining the board. Phillip specifically and Trimanitum generally have incredible experience taking companies to scale and are at the forefront of the impact investing and social enterprise movements in Australia. We couldn’t have better or more aligned partners and we’re very grateful for their support for our vision.

At milestones like this it’s impossible not to look back at where we started.

StartSomeGood began when I got a call from Alex Budak, who I had worked with at the non-profit Ashoka in Washington DC. He wanted to share an idea with me.

That idea was for a purpose-build crowdfunding platform for world-changing projects. He felt, and I agreed, that just as crowdfunding had solved a problem for artists – how to make new work without the support of traditional funding bodies – it could solve a similar problem for social entrepreneurs.

We both felt that the traditional funding sector for social impact – governments, foundations, wealthy benefactors – was too risk-adverse, and as a result we saw a lack of innovation in this most important of sectors.

Working with a small voluntary team we managed to get the first version of the website launched on March 1 2011, only about an hour before I was scheduled to deliver a presentation launching it to an audience of non-profits (lesson learned: never do live launches). Seven days later our first project hit their funding goal. We were thrilled. It was working!

I’d like to say it was all plain sailing and “crushing it” from there but the truth it it’s been a hard slog, with traction hard to come by the first couple of years. But we stuck at it, inspired by the changemakers we worked with and the real impact their projects were creating in people’s lives.

And over the past 18 months we have been growing strongly, by 400% last year, and reached the position where we felt ready to take on outside investment to fuel this growth.

Over the past four years we’ve had the honour to work with some incredible people, from world-renowned social entrepreneurs to 16 year-olds, civil rights heroes to local community groups, scientists to political candidates, emerging social entrepreneurs and 80 year-old charities.

We’ve now helped 500 projects raise over $5 million, with just shy of half of that money raised in 2014.

Projects funded on StartSomeGood include The Food Justice Truck, who raised $153,000 last year, making it the biggest social enterprise crowdfunding campaign in Australia. We’ve also supported a new speech therapy app in the US, political transparency tools in South America, women-led enterprises in Cambodia, the first foundation dedicated to supporting indigenous GLBTQ people in Australia and so much more.

We are incredibly grateful to have the support of Trimantium and our private investors. The majority of the investment is going towards re-imagining our platform, rebuilding it from the ground-up, creating a beautiful, scalable and easy-to-use platform for changemakers around the world. We are incorporating lots of great ideas and requests from our users as well as some new ideas on how best to connect social benefit projects with potential supporters.

We are also investing in our support process which we think is already one of the best in the world. Our commitment continues to be to work with every project one-on-one to share with you everything we know about crowdfunding so you have the best chance of success. And on StartSomeGood you do have the best chance of success, with 54% of projects reaching their goals (compared with 38% for Kickstarter and 9% for IndieGoGo). Joey Rosenberg, founder of Girls to Girls, has said “I’ve worked with a few crowdfunding sites before and StartSomeGood has been the absolute best. I’ve been blown away by the level of support.

Phillip Kingston had this to say about their decision to invest: “Trimantium is impressed with the social impact and business growth StartSomeGood is generating in a short space of time with limited resources. It’s envisaged that with extra support and capital, StartSomeGood is likely to cement its place in the global social financial tech and fundraising space, and carve out new and important capital flows to important projects.”
A huge thanks especially to all the project-creators and project-supporters who have helped us get this far. We would be nothing without you and supporting you to make a difference is why we exist.

Work with us! We are currently looking for a Software Engineer to help create the next great crowdfunding platform, initially working with our technology partner KDIS in Melbourne. More details here.

Onwards and upwards!


Tom Dawkins, co-founder and CEO, StartSomeGood