StartSomeGood

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


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2017: A Year for Social Entrepreneurs

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Some of you may be entering the year feeling a bit like these guys look.

Despite all the tumult of 2016 I enter 2017 strangely optimistic.

Despite my fears and disappointments, things also have a stark and refreshing clarity to them.

Now is a time for social entrepreneurs.

It’s clear that we can’t rely on our political leaders and processes to create a more equitable and sustainable future. In country after country, politics has snarled to a stop as the ability to compromise seems to evaporate, or been captured entirely by those with little regard for the role of government. Regardless of how you vote and what you believe, now is not the time to sit back and wait for others to make things right.

Instead, you are going to have to help create the future you want to see, if we’re to have any chance of seeing it at all.

The future doesn’t just happen, and by the time it becomes the present everything that matters has already happened. The future is the product of the decisions and actions we take individually and collectively that influence the present we live into. Is it more or less equal, connected, sustainable, just? Do current trends, positive and negative, continue, pause, decline? Which stories do we hear, which voices to we respect, who participates and who is missing?

You have only two choices.

You can either help create the future or you can live in the past, living in the wake of decisions made by others.

If you care about the future, if you have an idea for how to make things better, we need you now. Traditional sources of influence for the common good are weakening, but new forms of collective power are emerging, and the onus is on us to use and master the tools that give rise to these.

Crowdfunding is one of these tools.

At StartSomeGood our mission is to help non-profits, social entrepreneurs and community groups to create the future we need, and in particular to support more innovative projects and emerging social impact organizations and forms – such as social enterprises – commonly ignored by traditional funders.

We are deeply fortunate to work with inspiring changemakers every day, so it’s impossible for us to feel anything other than hopeful. As we go into this new year we re-dedicate ourselves to working in the service of innovation and innovators, to keep increasingly our already industry-leading project success rate, to growing our reaching and community and to create more co-funding opportunities and link you to more investment, so we can move faster and improve more lives.

And so I feel optimistic.

With challenge comes opportunity and today we have a unique opportunity to make a difference. Greater interconnectedness and access to new tools and technologies has made so much possible, and it’s clear more and more emerging leaders are dedicating themselves to creating a positive social impact all the time.

If we can help you launch your social impact project this year, please get in touch! We’d love to help you do crowdfunding right.

 

Tom

Co-founder, StartSomeGood

 

PS. I want to help some of you start 2017 with a bang! I will personally donate $50 to every campaign that launches on StartSomeGood by January 13, and $25 to any that launch by January 31, when you used the Referral Code HAPPYNEWYEAR (in the extra’s tab when you’re creating your campaign). I’ll also share on twitter and do my best to see you succeed.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s do this.

 


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Igniting Passion

StartSomeGood team at our global retreat.

Stars in the StartSomeGood constellation share some of what drives their passion and purpose. Check in with Luke Pearson, Tom Dawkins, Kathryn Kreps and Stephanie Arrowsmith on what gets them out of bed in the morning and keeps them going throughout the day.

I asked this inspiring quartet how did they first become passionate about change-making? luke_pearson_creative_commons_paul_hagonLuke said: “I have always been passionate about making positive changes in the world but I didn’t always know how to go about it, and I guess I am still learning things every day about the best way to get people to change their minds about a given issue, or to get active in causes they believe in. Once upon a time I was a teacher, and inspiring a belief that we can all have a positive impact in the world around us in big or small ways was the main reason I became a teacher, but really it was when I took to social media that I saw an opportunity to effect change on the issues I care about, just by telling my stories and watching it resonate with like-minded people around Australia and overseas as well.”

Tom Dawkins also had an early start in changemaking:”I grew up in a politically-minded household, but it was at the age of 16, during a year-old student exchange in the US, that I discovered my sense of purpose. I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend an amazing event in San Francisco – the State of the World Forum – as one of 32 youth representatives from 28 countries, which awakened in me a strong commitment to being a changemaker. TDSSGThe experience I had – of being included, empowered and having my voice heard – was one I felt strongly that all young people, and all people, deserved access to. While I had been the beneficiary of this system I knew the current model of “youth empowerment” was broken. It was haphazard, tokenistic and biased towards wealth. I felt we had to find ways to do better, to activate more people as changemakers and give them the tools, support and encouragement to help them succeed, and that’s more or less what I’ve been working on ever since, with a particular interest in how technology can create more accessible platforms for community-building and changemaking, such as StartSomeGood!”

Beyond systems and at the heart of all changemaking is pebeMWWKPaople according to Kathryn: “I’ve always had what could charitably be called an overdeveloped sense of justice. From an early age I saw that people around me didn’t always have access to the same opportunities, and that never sat right. Over the years my activism has taken many forms, but I’ve never lost people-first focus.”

Making a shift from Indonesia to Australia set the scene for Stephanie to get her first taste of activism in high school.  “I started volunteering for the Oaktree Foundation when I was 17 years old as an ambassador for the Make Poverty History Roadtrip: a national campaign to increase Australia’s contribution to foreign aid and increase public awareness around Australia’s role in international development. It was the first time I got to experience what it was like to be part of a movement that resulted in tangible policy change and action (our PM increased foreign aid to 0.5% GDP – an all time high for Australia!). This involvement with Oaktree led me to take up more leadership positions, align my studies towards international health and development and work in the field projects in India, Guatemala, Indonesia and remote Western Australia. After experiencing developments at the grassroots, I took up a role in campaigning and advocacy with Global Poverty Project in New York City – which gave me yet another perspective on digital activism on a global scale, working with multilateral organisations, corporations and world leaders to influence change.  Since I can remember I’ve always been fired up about poverty alleviation, exploring solutions at a grassroots level as well as at a structural and policy level. dHbXUs-GBefore moving to Australia, I was born and raised in Indonesia and was constantly exposed to extreme inequality that I couldn’t quite understand or accept, so it was hard to ignore. Getting a better education and having the safety of living in a place like Australia was not just an opportunity – it was a responsibility to do something meaningful with my life and to ensure future generations don’t have to face the injustices we have today.”

 

How did your passion get ignited?


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Interview Spotlight: Drizzle

An interview with Drizzle, a clothing company founded to provide sustainable funding for youth environmental initiatives.

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Where did you get the original inspiration for this project?

As many non-profits struggle to acquire funding to run their programs, we wanted to develop a sustainable source of income for our youth environmental initiatives by creating a social enterprise clothing company. We have always had a passion for apparel and sustainable fashion, and after doing a bit of research, we dove right into it.

Why did you decide to crowdfund?

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money AND build a community of support. We want Drizzle Apparel Co. to become not only a great social enterprise, but also a movement for environmental youth empowerment. Crowdfunding is allowing us to accomplish both goals.

One of the shirts available for purchase through Drizzle.

Design for a future Drizzle shirt.

What does ultimate success look like for you and your project?

Ultimate success for us is empowering a generation of youth to protect the planet and take into account the environment into every decision they make. Today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders, and we believe if they are empowered to protect our planet, they will consider the health of our environment in every decision they make as adults.

What are you enjoying most about StartSomeGood?

The StartSomeGood community is fantastic. The team has been extremely supportive and helpful, and those who follow along have been very supportive as well. I know that if we reach our goal, we will have the StartSomeGood community to thank.

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


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Not Just Another Crowdfunding Platform: Our Partnerships Help You Double Your Money

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TL:DR Version

If you’re an impatient social entrepreneur reading this, here’s the gist: 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. We have three of these opportunities open right now – find them under the “Funding Opportunities” heading on our homepage.

If you want to know how and why we arrived at this model, read on…

How Best to Support Change?

If you’ve been with us for any length of time you know this, but StartSomeGood was founded with a mission to help innovative community benefit projects share their stories and raise the funds they need to launch, whether run by a social enterprise, a not-for-profit or a local community group or changemaker.

Like all the other crowdfunding platforms out there, our focus was (and remains) to build great tools to help for you to rally your community. For many platforms, that’s all they do, leaving projects to sink or swim entirely on their own. But we wanted to go further than that, because it was never about throwing projects out there, it was about helping them to succeed, and this, we rapidly learned, meant also focusing on coaching entrepreneurs on how to use these tools effectively.

We put more emphasis on coaching and supporting people to set up projects which succeed, which is why we have the highest success rate in cause crowdfunding.

But still, we were dissatisfied.

There are great ideas out there that struggle to get the attention of funders – particularly those with the capacity to make bigger investments – and which fail to gain the momentum they need to reach their goals, despite the quality or importance of the idea. While crowdfunding is an amazing tool for making new things possible it’s not a meritocracy with regards to those ideas. Those with more resources, connections, marketing experience and time will naturally tend to do better.

We kept asking ourselves how we could best help the best projects, based on the quality of their ideas, and help connect them with potential funders.

The answer came to us thanks to a conversation with ING DIRECT Australia. They had a somewhat different problem they wanted to solve: they were keen on supporting more grassroots projects, but uncertain about how to differentiate between the volume of ideas they were likely to receive without staffing up a major foundation, which they didn’t want to do. They also wanted to better leverage all their resources, including their communications channels and relationships, to support these projects, not simply provide a grant.

And a new approach to funding innovation was born.

Introducing Crowdmatch

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We now call this model Crowdmatch, and we’re really excited about how well it works for both entrepreneurs, who get a huge boost at the start of their campaigns, and for our funding partners, who see their risk reduced, their funds go further and their community get more involved.

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 non-profits 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.

With ING DIRECT we are now into our third year of Dreamstarter and the sixth cohort of projects supported through the program will launch in two weeks. Through Dreamstarter ING DIRECT have invested about $200,000 in community benefit projects and together we have helped them crowdfund more than $300,000 more, with a 90% participant success rate.

We are working hard to increase the number of these opportunities available. Just in the last week we have launched two new opportunities.

New Crowdmatch Opportunities:

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The Social Enterprise Design Challenge presented by the English Family Foundation is a rare and exciting opportunity for Australian-based non-profit social enterprises to design and test a “visionary” new project.

It will fund four projects for half their fundraising goal, up to $15,000 each. Find out more about what they’re looking for and how to apply here. Applications due by May 5.

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The Young Changemakers Crowdmatch will support Australian changemakers aged 18-29 to develop and run crowdfunding campaigns, with $5,000 in match funds going to the projects with the most supporters and most funds raised at the end. Participating projects will get help from experts in both organisations and have their campaigns promoted to over 150,000 people.

Find out more and how to apply here. Applications due May 1.

Why just Australian opportunities? Because that’s what these particular partners are looking to fund and who is live right now, but we hear you, we want to create opportunities for everyone reading this and are in discussions with potential Crowdmatch partners in several countries. If you would like to see this model available to great projects in your country we would love your suggestions for potential partners as we are looking for new partners to add new opportunities all around the world! And if you are that potential partner, well….

Interested in Changing the World Together?

You can find out more about partnership opportunities with StartSomeGood here and when you’re ready get in touch with us here. We’d love to talk with you about collaboration!

Crowdmatch5

 


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Interview Spotlight: Backyard Based Urban Farming Project

An interview with James Blyth, founder of the Backyard Based Urban Farming Project, working to start a backyard-based, not-for-profit urban farming project in Brisbane that is focused on three things: reducing food miles, improving access to healthy food in ‘food desert’ areas, and educating young people in organic farming techniques.

Oh, and he’s also biking over 2500kms to demonstrate the distance food travels to make it to our tables. 

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James Blyth as a bike-riding carrot.

What was hardest about starting?

The hardest part was overcoming the fear that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew with the project and the cycle trip. I had to keep telling myself that it was worth trying, even if it didn’t work out exactly the way I was planning.

Why did you choose StartSomeGood as your partner?

StartSomeGood seemed like the perfect platform to launch my idea,  and it allowed me to have a powerful campaign page and an easy to use pledge system.

How are you keeping the momentum for your campaign going?

I am keeping a weekly blog at https://freewheelingfarmer.com with plenty of social media posts through Instagram and Facebook. By being on the road I am also meeting lots of new people and spreading the word through a message written on the side of my bike.

What kind of support do changemakers in your community need?

I think a support system where people that are willing to step up and start something can get their message out to the most people possible is a good start. Better communication means more effective campaigns and ultimately more financial and social assistance.

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

Don’t think too much about it, just dig in and get started. You’ll figure it out on the way.

To learn more, or to support this project, visit here.


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By Social Entrepreneurs, For Social Entrepreneurs

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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.