Are you a social entrepreneur looking for early-stage funding? Look no further than StartSomeGood.com (SSG), a new platform for social entrepreneurs (SEs) to raise funds and grow a community of supporters. SSG uses a crowd-funding model which allows SEs to ask for small amounts of money from supporters around the world, with average donations ranging from US$25 to $50. While similar to other online fundraising platforms such as GlobalGiving, SSG allows unincorporated groups, along with registered 501(c)3s, for-profits, and social enterprises to use the platform.
After an initial application and screening process, social innovators work with SSG to set up their campaign pages on the platform. Campaigns set a total amount to be fundraised, along with a tipping-point amount, which is considered the minimum amount needed for the project. While the tipping-point amount is set by the SE, it must be met before the end of the campaign, which can run from 7-60 days. Otherwise, the pledges are not charged by PayPal and neither the SE nor SSG (which receives 5% of funds raised from successful campaigns that reach the tipping point) actually obtain any funds.
In addition to helping SEs raise funds, SSG focuses on developing a community. It hosts monthly webinars with thought leaders in the SE space and technical advisers. There is also a monthly SE book club which meets via conference call once a month to discuss a book with its author present. Moreover, SSG requires social innovators who run campaigns on their site to provide some type of ‘reward’ to its donors and supporters, e.g. a behind-the-scenes newsletter or video by which the community can continue to be involved.
Since its inception in February 2011, 27 social good initiatives have successfully raised a total of $180,000 on the platform. Alex Budak, co-founder of SSG, stresses the importance of building strong partnerships, "StartSomeGood was established to help social entrepreneurs transform an idea into action and impact. We've found that partnering with leading social innovation organizations allows us to support some great social ventures and contribute to the greater social good space." Some partners, such as Teach for America and Ashoka U, often refer social entrepreneurs to SSG as a platform to raise money and supporters for their ideas.
One venture that got a leg-up through SSG was Balbus Speech, whose mission is to help people in speech therapy find their voice through web/mobile technology. Jack McDermott, its founder and CEO, asserts, "After raising over $3,000 on StartSomeGood, Balbus Speech is in a great position to make a lasting social impact. Not only did our StartSomeGood campaign provide us with seed funding for the development of our first product…but it also united us with an entire cast of like-minded supporters. This resulting community… is equally valuable to the future success of our social venture."