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Posts Tagged ‘Fundchange’

As previously announced, we have wrapped up Fundchange and will be focusing on our crowdsourcing platform which is soon to be relaunched.

I thought it might be helpful for other Canadian start-ups interested in this space to hear what we learned over the past 2 years launching and running Fundchange which was an initiative of Ideavibes.

Here we go – lessons learned:

  1. Be careful what claims you make. We thought we were the first crowdfunding website for charities and non-profits in Canada when we launched in 2010 – but the Small Change Fund very forcefully told us to stop saying this (amazing how a cease and desist letter throws you off your game). We didn’t know their project fundraising site had all of a sudden become a crowdfunding website.
  2. When working with large partners, it is helpful to make regular updates an important part of the agreement – no matter how busy people might be.
  3.  Inertia and habits are VERY hard to change. We didn’t understand how stuck charities and non-profits in Canada are in their old ways (even if they aren’t working), and how averse to change and risk they are.
  4. We tried to boil the ocean – not possible for a start-up or even a partner like TELUS. We knew the conversation around social media had to change in Canada if businesses – governments – and charities are to communicate with Canadians and we tried to do do much of this on our own. The belief that no one over 40 is on social media is WRONG.
  5. Banks and service providers like PayPal, etc. need to stop treating Canada like a 3rd world nation. I know we are only 30mil people but come on – there is no excuse for launching products and services in the US and then Britain before Canada.
  6. When launching a start-up – don’t stray from Stephen Covey’s mantra of ‘keeping the main thing – the main thing.’ My bad – did that and given our limited resources, caused us much grief.

There are a few others but these are the main ones I wanted to put out there.

Paul

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Today we posted a project on IndieGoGo to help us do some down and dirty tech work on our platform to improve the way it works as a white label crowdfunding platform for clients – but also to improve the way our now year old Fundchange works. The year has taught us that charities and non-profits need lots of help getting the crowd involved in the work they do by funding projects or doable asks.

Support our work here:  http://www.indiegogo.com/fundchange

If you would like to help us improve our platform to be able to help charities and non-profits in Canada but around the world through the use of our platform – then support our project on IndieGoGo http://www.indiegogo.com/fundchange. You may ask – why didn’t we use Kickstarter? Well – it appears that Kickstarter really doesn’t like Canadians – or it encourages us to lie in order to use their site. You can’t post on Kickstarter if you don’t have a US bank account, US address, etc. How rude!


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In November I blogged about the crowdfunding bill that was passed by the US House of Representatives on November 3rd, 2011. The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act – or H.R. 2930, if it gets passed by the Senate, would allow startups to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding sites and social networking sites. This would be a huge opportunity for startups in the US, making it easier for them to raise the necessary funds to get their company off the ground. But what about Canadian startups?

What about Canada?

I was recently included in an itbusiness.ca article, “Legalize crowdfunding or risk losing startups to U.S., CATA says,” written by Christine Wong. The article explains the current situation startups are faced with when trying to raise funds:

Under current U.S. and Canadian laws, startups can only accept equity investments from venture capital funds or small angel pools like friends and family. Any large scale equity fundraising outside of those sources requires a company to go through the lengthy and expensive process of filing a prospectus with securities regulators.

It was a year ago that we launched Fundchange.com, a crowdfunding site to help non-profits raise funds for various projects. In the itbusiness.ca article, they touched on the fact that Ideavibes has developed a social media platform for equity crowdfunding for startups and why we can’t launch it yet:

But it can’t deploy that platform because Canadian law bans startups from offering equity shares or a percentage of revenue in exchange for money raised through crowdfunding.

“I believe the Canadian government is very behind in this and should be pushed harder because access to capital is a big issue. Making it easier for startups to get that money is important,” said Dombowsky, who emphasized it was tough for him to get his own company going with just $30,000 of seed money.

Crowdfunding is a great way for startups to raise the money they need. Getting smaller amounts of money from a larger group of people tends to be an easier task than asking a handful of people for a large sum.

What do you think? Should crowdfunding be legalized as a form of funding for startups? Do you think Canadian startups will flee to the US if the Entrepreneur Access to

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Fundchange continues to move towards its goal of raising $100,000 in project funding for Canadian charities (including TELUS quarterly matches). Fundchange is one of Canada’s first crowdfunding – or online fundraising – websites for Canadian charities, launched by Ideavibes. As we move closer to the end of 2011,  Fundchange announced a year-end matching campaign with sponsor, TELUS Communications.

End of Year Challenge

So far, the campaign has resulted in a number of new charities posting projects – all focused on being one of the first 8 to have their projects funded by December 23rd to qualify for TELUS matching funds of $2500 each. In under two weeks, 12 new charities have signed up.  Each of them posted interesting projects seeking under $5,000 in funding.

On Dec. 24th, Fundchange and TELUS will be announcing the 8 organizations that successfully had their projects funded by Dec. 23rd and who will receive the matching funds early in January.

Fundchange Successes

Fundchange gives the public the opportunity to support projects in different ways: voting, liking on Facebook, Tweeting, commenting, emailing, and of course, funding. Organizations like Dress for Success, The Ottawa Mission, Pick My Class, The Toronto City Mission, etc., have joined Fundchange this fall and are using crowdfunding and social media to mobilize support from people connected to them directly or through the degrees of separation through their social networks.

With Fundchange, Pick My Class has raised funds to develop a web platform that will connect inspiring public school teachers to donors, to enhance their student’s classroom experience. Pick My Class Founder Andrew Spinner says “Fundchange is a wonderful program which has assisted us in sourcing funds, and has been integral to Pick My Class’ development”.

Fundchange Workshops

Fundchange and TELUS recently held another workshop in their series on Social Media and Crowdfunding in Toronto where additional sessions had to be added due to the demand from local charities and non-profits. Fundchange and TELUS partnered with Koodonation and Artez Interactive to make these workshops available. You can read more about those workshops in our blog post “A Time For Giving: Why Charities Should Use Crowdsourcing“.

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Conquering the crowdsourcing world on your own can be difficult sometimes. Because of this, some companies have decided to partner with other organizations to increase exposure and the impact of their crowdsourcing campaigns. Involvement of partnering companies varies, with some using partnerships to offer incentives, while other partnerships run much deeper. This post explores why you would want to get involved with a partnering company and some of the things to keep in mind when selecting the company you want to team up with.

Build Partnerships

There are a ton of benefits a company can receive by partnering with another brand for crowdsourcing projects. Whether you’re a new company partnering with a well known brand, or two brand name powerhouses teaming together, partnerships have a lot to offer. In the What Gives blog post “Lessons, Challenges, & Tips for ‘Crowd Sourcing for Innovative Social Change’,” the author discusses some of the benefits of brand partnerships and crowdsourcing:

“Partner With a Brand & Get Your Cause Amplified: Pepsi’s recent crowdsourcing project at South By Southwest was a huge success and do you know why?  It put faces to the causes people were being asked to support, and was an opportunity for the social media savvy to get people talking (and tweeting!) about a cause they believed in.  It also was successful because the message was simple, the action was fun, and it was easy to get involved.”

Fundchange

At Ideavibes, we’ve partnered with TELUS on a crowdfunding project called Fundchange.

When I (Paul) started Ideavibes and started working on the platform – I knew that in a market full of established competitors (even though we were doing things slightly differently), starting up with a real live example with an reputable company was important. Also, because we ideally wanted to start with a social innovation initiative (Fundchange) right from the start – tying these together seemed like the right approach. We were lucky that TELUS felt the same way about our social innovation initiative, and agreed with our plan on how to both build a platform and company, as well as launch Fundchange.

We talked to a number of early investors, and are still talking to some as we look for funds to grow Ideavibes. Many angels and certainly VSs focus on quick entrances and exits, meant our business model is less attractive for this type of investment. A corporate partnership with a company that puts so much emphasis on the community like TELUS was the perfect choice.

I wouldn’t recommend partnering with just any company. You need to make sure that the values of the company or the investors you team up with are inline with those of your brand, because the actions of those around you will reflect back on your brand – one of those ‘guilty by association’ types of things. Do your homework and make sure there’s a solid fit and a mutual understanding before diving into a crowdsourcing/crowdfunding initiative with a partnering company.

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Just when we thought things couldn’t get any busier, they did! After finishing up our trip to Europe – where we attended and presented at crowdsourcing conferences and held our own workshop, we’re hitting the road, but sticking closer to home. Here’s an update on some of the events we will be attending, along with an exciting new project we’ve launched through Fundchange in conjunction with TELUS.

International Startup Festival

Where: Montreal, QC

When: July 13-15, 2011

We will be attending the International Startup Festival, which is a two-day conference on the business of startups. According to the event website, the festival brings together industry veterans and fresh faces, thought leaders and technology giants from around the world, for a series of lean, fast-paced events. It includes startup launches, inspiring keynotes, and deep-dives into hot sectors like mobility, social networking, and gaming. The festival brings a global audience together to cover the entire startup lifecycle: early-stage innovation; scaling the business; and achieving a successful exit.

Social Capital Conference

Where: Ottawa (University of Ottawa Campus)

When: Saturday July 23rd, 2011

Right in our own backyard, Ideavibes is one of the sponsors of this year’s Social Capital Conference. The Social Capital Conference will cover a wide variety of topics for everyone – whether you’re just starting out in social media or an active user for years. This conference is designed for people who use social media for personal or business reasons. It will be a place to connect with like-minded people who understand what your love of social media is all about. Hopefully some of our local friends will be able to come out to this event!

Fundchange and TELUS Announce New Matching Campaign

From July 18th to August 17th, Fundchange is hosting a funding challenge that could result in your organization receiving an extra $5,000 in matched funding from TELUS! The campaign is open to new and existing Fundchange members. TELUS is awarding up to $5,000 in matching funds to the new project posted and funded that has the most Facebook “Likes” on Fundchange.com. Fundchange is an Ideavibes initiative, sponsored by TELUS, to help reshape the way charities raise money. To sign up and read the rules to get involved in the campaign, click here.

If you have any questions about any of the events or campaigns mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact Paul (paul@fundchange.com).

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Ideavibes is proud to share with you the news that Sustainability Systems of Calgary will be joining us as an Integration Partner for the Ideavibes Engagement Platform. Sustainability Systems will focus on capacity building in the area of engagement for municipal and provincial/state governments throughout North America. According to Paul Dombowsky, Founder and CEO of Ideavibes:

We were lucky to have found such a strong partner to work with us just as the Platform was launched. Growing our footprint quickly as the choice for a Crowd Engagement Platform to help communities with citizen engagement can only happen with the right partners in place. Early on we see demand from cities from all over the world looking for the tools to go beyond what web forms and email can do. Social media provides engagement but is challenged when it comes to the management of ideas and the data – our platform offers that.”

Sustainability Systems organized the 2011 Pathways 2 Sustainability conference held recently in Red Deer, AB. According to Shawn Ripley of Sustainability Systems, they originally planned and built a website using typical social media tools such as blogs, profiles and other systems. While the P2S conference registrations went very well, only a moderate level of interest was being generated in the network itself.

To get the engagement we needed, we then implemented a crowdsourcing call and used the Ideavibes tool which conference attendees used to help shape the conference content and speakers. The sluggish response to the network was immediately overcome once the Ideavibes tool was implemented and network members became very active on the site and were excited to use the system,” according to Ripley.“We saw real value in what the Ideavibes solution offered and how easy it was to implement and procure using their subscription model. This is something our other clients (cities and developers) can take advantage of.”

We are currently putting our Crowd Engagement Platform to work at Web2.0 in San Francisco, as part of the Emerging Technology Pavilion. To increase interaction and engage out audience, we launched Engaged4change (www.engage4change.com) and are using this campaign to engage San Francisco citizens to crowdsource the best ideas for affordable housing and transportation –two hot button items in any city. On April 12th, we will give the winning idea the Ideavibes Prize based on votes from the crowd.
The Platform is also the backbone for the recently launched Fundchange (www.fundchange.com) crowdfunding initiative with TELUS.

Stay tuned for more information on our journey at Web 2.0 and to find out who will what as a result of the Engage4Change project.

 

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