Crowdfunding is Getting a Little More Crowded

I was sitting in my car at a stoplight on a busy corner in South Minneapolis mindlessly listening to music and watching wisp-like snowflakes dance lazily in the breeze when something caught my eye. A large white sign was stretched across the front window of a squat, red-painted, brick building that had been vacant long enough that I couldn’t remember what type of business last called it home. The sign itself was nothing extraordinary; it was a simple white banner with black lettering. But the text was what intrigued me. It said, “What should move in here?”


Looking closer I saw a web address was printed in orange lettering beneath that:

Hoodstarter? While the name was certainly memorable, I couldn’t begin to imagine what kind of business “Hoodstarter” might be. Later that evening I found myself thinking about the sign again and decided to check it out online. Some quick research showed me Hoodstarter is a new crowdfunding website designed specifically around the idea of filling vacant retail space. The site helps entrepreneurs tell their stories to prospective donors and make pitches for funding. There’s nothing new there – Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been doing something similar for years. The interesting part is that it also allows local residents to post pictures of vacant buildings in their neighborhoods and then the community is invited to post ideas about what should go into the space and vote for the ideas they like best.

This mash-up of small business meets the democratization of philanthropy is a great use of crowdsourcing. One of the things I always want to see more of in philanthropy is communication.

Whether there’s room for yet another crowdsourcing platform in the already crowded field is yet to be seen. Hoodstarter is user-friendly and is bringing some new ideas to the table. Using technology to increase communication and hear the needs and wants of a neighborhood is wonderful. But is there enough real value in this model to sustain the go-between business? And will donors continue to find appeal in donating to for-profit businesses? Time will tell.

Philanthropy Jobs MN – Weekly Roundup

Whether you’re a new grad, recent transplant, or seasoned pro looking for a change, there’s a job out there for you in MN’s robust philanthropy sector! Here are some of the best local opportunities we saw in the past week:

• Development Intern – Airspace Minnesota

• Associate Gifts Officer – Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

• Senior Government Grants Officer – Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

• Grant Manager – CommonBond Communities

• Program Development Director – Generations Health Care Initiatives

• Temporary Fundraising Professional – Greater Twin Cities United Way

• Development Director – Lake Country Montessori School

• Director of Development – MN Private College Council

• Foundation Relationship Manager (St. Paul, MN) – Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota

• Grants Manager – RESOURCE

• Development Associate – Saint Paul College

• Development Assistant (paid internship) – True Friends

• Development Assistant – Twin Cities RISE!

• Development Associate – Wingspan Life Resources

Grant Opportunities – July 2014 Deadlines

Here’s a great list of grant opportunities with upcoming July deadlines. Take a look and see if any should be added to your list!

Sometimes finding grant opportunities is almost as hard as preparing the actual grant application and materials that you want to submit. At Access Philanthropy we understand that and we want to make your life a little easier, so we’ve done some of the research and leg-work to provide you with this list of grant opportunities with July deadlines. Take a look and see if any of these should be added to your prospect list!

Let us know if you have any questions about the funders you see on this list. We’re great at matching non-profits with prospective funders! We even work with non-profits to create custom lists of prospective funders and grant opportunities best suited to the organizations’ unique programs and needs.

And make sure to follow us on Facebook as we’ll be posting more detailed information about these funders throughout the month to help you stay fully informed and up-to-date.

July 1st Grant Deadline(s):
– Baseball Tomorrow Fund (youth/teen baseball and softball)
– Best Buy Foundation (community grants)
– Carlson Family Foundation (education, children & youth at-risk, and youth mentoring)
– Land O’ Lakes Foundation (hunger)
– Miller-Dwan Foundation (health specialties – cancer, burn, mental health , substance abuse, rehab)
– The Nash Foundation (arts, environment, youth, women in crisis)
– Southwestern Minnesota Arts Council (arts in education, general operating support, McKnight individual artists grants)
– U.S. Bank Foundation (education)
– Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota (economic development, employment, housing)

July 10th Grant Deadline(s):
– Eddy (Edwin H.) Foundation (scholarship)

July 11th Grant Deadline(s):
– Harley Davidson Foundation (education, health, environment)
– Travelers Foundation (education, community development, arts & culture – full application due 7/11, start pre-application 3-4 weeks prior)

July 14th Grant Deadline(s):
– Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (arts activities support)

July 15th Grant Deadline(s):
– Fred C. & Katherine B. Andersen Foundation (youth, elderly, social services, health programs)
– The McKnight Foundation (arts, region & communities)
– Minnesota State Bar Foundation (law related education, legal assistance to poor/disadvantaged, public interest legal work, improve administration of justice)
– Northland Foundation (children, youth & families, opportunities for self-reliance, aging w/independence)

July 18th Grant Deadline(s):
– RBC Foundation – USA (outside the Twin Cities 7-county metro area – education, health, human services, arts & culture, civic programs)

July 25th Grant Deadline(s):
– Initiative Foundation (early childhood services, employment, small business growth, community development, natural disasters)

July 31st Grant Deadline(s):
– Center Point Energy (education, community development, health & human services)
– David Bohnett Foundation (LGBT, cyber centers, gun violence prevention, voting, animals – online LOI due 6/30, on-line application due 7/31)
– We Energies (arts & culture, economic health, education & environment)

And A Few Year-Round Funders:
– 3M and 3M Foundation (community, education, environment, science education)
– Andersen Corporation (affordable housing, health & safety, STEM education/youth development, human services, civic support)

Crowdfunding: The New, Old Way to Raise Money

Social media and the Internet have changed the way many organizations raise money. Sure, the tried and true fundraising methods such as holding large gala events and courting major donors are still used and for the most part still work. But as more of our everyday lives move into the digital world, it only makes sense that fundraising would follow suit.

One of the most rapidly growing forms of digital fundraising is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is when individuals work collectively or act in a collective manner to pool their money and support organizations or causes they believe in. This probably sounds a lot like individual donor campaigns right? It’s similar but crowdfunding is done ONLINE and the timeframe to raise the money is usually pretty short, generally a couple of months, to add to the sense of urgency.

What we know today as crowdfunding is actually not a new idea. Praenumeration was the early precursor to the crowdfunding business model. It was a subscription business model used in the 17th century to finance book prints. The Statue of Liberty pedestal was also funded through an early form of crowdfunding. The American Committee for the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds for the pedestal in the mid-1880’s and more than 125,000 people contributed funds and raised over $100,000 in six months to finish the project at the urging of Joseph Pulitzer in his New York World newspaper.

The online aspect of today’s crowdfunding means that it’s accessible to virtually everyone. As of 2012 there were over 400 crowdfunding platforms and that number continues to grow. Adopt-A-Classroom, started in 1998, is often sited as one of the first crowdfunding websites. Other popular sites include Indiegogo, Kickstarter, RocketHub and Kiva. Causes and campaigns vary widely with the primary uses including funding for creative work such as blogging and journalism, music, independent films, and funding startup companies.

New initiatives are making their way into the crowdfunding world and have made headlines in recent years. In 2012, the New Era Colorado Foundation raised over $170,000 on Indiegogo to fund a campaign against a debt-limit ballot measure that they said was misleading and really just an attempt by Xcel Energy to kill efforts to create a local electric utility based on renewable energy. Their initial fundraising goal of $40,000 was quickly met and they raised it to $75,000 then $150,000. Their compelling story and creative use of social media and multi-media sources led to a hugely successful fundraising effort. Even “Main Street” has seen success with crowdfunding. Windom Minnesota, a small town with 4,500 residents in the southwest corner of the state, recently raised over $80,000 through Kickstarter for a new digital projector they needed to keep their Main Street movie theatre in business.

The accessibility of today’s online crowdfunding makes it an attractive option for organizations and causes of all sorts and sizes. But just like any other fundraising tool, if you’re going to do it, make sure you do it right. Take the time to research the various websites and platforms that offer crowdfunding services. Some charge flat rates, others charge base rates plus transaction fees and some are even all or nothing meaning that if you don’t meet your fundraising goal, then you don’t get any of the funds.

It’s a good time to add a new fundraising technique to your tool belt. Crowdfunding raised $2.66 billion in 2012 (up from $0.89 billion in 2010) and continues to grow. Now is the time to jump into the digital fundraising world – with your eyes open of course!