We’re often forced to inventory and take note of what is supportive to wellbeing in business and health; here we find the power of community.

The term “crisis” originates from roots meaning to separate, to sieve, a process that author Glennon Doyle compares to sifting sand. In times of turmoil, our priorities slip through our fingers, leaving behind only the substantial pieces of rock and rubble that are of great importance, allowing all the rest to float back to the earth, leaving room in our palms for what matters most. 

Now, as the world shares the heartaches of a social climate profoundly marred by the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, our collective attention is turned to the people and places that we call home. 

We have begun to watch the gathering spaces in our towns close their doors and lay off the familiar employees who we bought our lunch from, stood across from at the gym, bumped into at the library, or joined for afternoon tea. Our streets, once lined with signs of life, sit empty and quiet, while we all notice the uncomfortable gaps left in our world from these businesses. 

Fortunately, just as the fiery phoenix rises from the ashes, rich with new life, our communities will do the same with the support of our TLC: tender loving care. In this time of economic disparity, we can’t help but look to the roots of The Local Crowd–started with the intention of supporting local innovators with equal parts heart and capital-building support.

The power of community exists in its people, and right now, our people are prompted to show up. It is together that we will move forward, together we will rebuild, together we will stitch and hem the fabric of our towns. 

With many hands, we will rebuild. Here’s how you can start to help.

The Power of Community in Crisis

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With a deep knowledge of the powerful work you’re bringing to your community, you can confidently construct a successful crowdfunding team!

 

Just like the sports of our youth taught us, there is no “I” in your crowdfunding team.

The most successful crowdfunding campaigns are routinely built, not with one, but rather with many making a strong collaboration behind the scenes. A wide reach and balanced team are crucial in preparing a project to reach its most supportive and giving crowd before, during and after launch day.

Gathering a pool of partners with diverse skill sets and broad connections is a crucial and early step in the campaign building process. As you bring voices around the table, you expand your opportunity potential, dipping into the affinity groups of partners, opening up space for collaboration and building loyalty to your cause.

The temptation to charge forward alone is common among campaign hosts; however, the power of crowdfunding exists almost entirely in the many hands beyond your own that support, share and give within your crowd. Imagine the potency your project could gain with the power of a local book club sharing your news, the videography talents of a good friend or a handful of heartfelt personal asks for support from the businesses on your block.

As you begin to build your dream team in the early stages of your campaign, explore your relationships with customers, colleagues and friends. Jot down names of the folks who’ve supported you in your business, in your personal life and beyond. With a deep knowledge of the powerful work you’re bringing to your community, you can confidently reach far and wide, constructing a successful crowdfunding team for your work ahead.

Many Hands Make a Crowdfunding Team

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Overall, we know successfully funded crowdfunding campaigns start with detailed plans, commitment to daily work and sufficient time.

Most of us come to crowdfunding with focused visions of one end goal: funds.

The industry is speckled with what appear to be overnight success stories of accessories for the tech-savvy, quirky card games and gadgets with bells and whistles galore. With every Pebble Watch and Coolest Cooler, mainstream media has cultivated a narrative that, upon posting a project, backers will flood in, cash in hand, as the dollar signs shoot skyward on our screens. It would appear that as the adage goes, if you build it, they will come.

Truth be told, for every show-stopping crowdfunding project, thousands sit idle, unseen and unfunded across the same platforms that host successes in the millions of dollars. Campaigns built with the most stable structures can sit sound in body but empty in soul, without the appropriate time and preparation given to bring the people to the cause.

Overall, we know the most successful campaigns, hosted locally or beyond, start with detailed plans, commitment to daily work and sufficient time. Much like an airplane requires a runway to ensure a safe liftoff, a secure 30-day crowdfunding campaign needs at the very least, a 60-day taxiway.

It is here, in this crucial preparation phase, that you can focus on preparations including team building, creative storytelling, number crunching and crafting a buzz around the incredible project or product you’re about to launch in your community!

Successfully Funded Crowdfunding Campaigns Start Early

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The resulting flow of a community art project was not only fun, but it was also instructive—about how we need to work at building the 4th sector economy.

 

For Kim’s birthday a few weeks ago we decided to do a chair bombing. We took an old bench, painted it, and placed it in an alcove by our office. Our process was pretty unstructured—we brought tools, cans of leftover paints, an idea, and enthusiasm for working creatively together.

Building the 4th Sector Like Community Art

The resulting flow was not only fun, it was instructive—about how we need to work at pioneering the 4th sector economy. Why? Because we had no map and didn’t know exactly where we were going. We had to trust each other and allow the process to unfold. That doesn’t sound a lot like business planning—but it reminded me that as sector-building pioneers, we need to be open to exploring, experimenting, doing art, using available resources, and listening to the voices of our communities along the way. That’s how we will build something radically new and intrinsically beautiful.

Building the 4th Sector Like Community Art

bench painted blue with white waves

view of the Wyoming plains grass and trees with blue sky

Sit and See! Enjoy the view from out chair-bombed bench!

Take a look at how campaign hosts are connecting to their communities and building the 4th sector with creative and collaborative projects on our campaign page. Don’t forget to sign up for The Local Crowd newsletter with the form below, and follow along on Facebook to stay connected with The Local Crowd and learn more!

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The heart of crowdfunding beats like a drum—ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. It calls us to community—to help each other, build each other up, raise each other’s barns.

The heart of crowdfunding beats like a drum—ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. It calls us to community—to help each other, build each other up, raise each other’s barns.

Crowdfunding campaigns carry the heart of our stories out to the world—broadcasting our aspirations, visions, and needs. Through crowdfunding, we invite our community to help out and become part of the rhythm of connection. And that’s where the miracle begins. Scientific research tells us that an innate characteristic of being human is to find pleasure in helping others (see TED Talk below). That means that every time we give to a crowdfunding campaign the results are threefold: 1. we support a tangible project; 2. we connect with our community and 3: We open our hearts to joy. Pretty cool, huh?

 

The Heart of Crowdfunding

Kim and I are always on the lookout for hearts. We found this one in Chicago while there for the 2019 Social Enterprise Alliance Summit.

The Heart of Crowdfunding

Detail from the Cottonwood mural. “When people get together, miracles happen,” it reads. We agree.

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What does a robust social enterprise sector look like to you?

It’s great to be in Chicago at the SEA Summit touring social enterprises, learning, and meeting people doing The Great Work.

Darius Ballinger kicked off the conference and encouraged us to approach our work from both the micro and macro levels. He said the micro-level represents the tangible things we can do today—the actual work of creating social change. The macro is more complex. It represents the big picture—like 4th sector ecosystem development—that requires conversations with “someone else, and someone else, and someone else, and someone else….” It takes time and conversations with many people to make macro changes occur.

These are the conversations we are excited to have. I like to start with a vision of what is possible—and I would love to hear yours. What does a robust social enterprise sector look like to you?

What does a robust social enterprise sector look like to you?

Growing Home Urban Farm produces 25,000 pounds of food on one acre in the city! They also train individuals who are eager to work but need a supportive environment to develop skills. Thanks for your great work and awesome tour!

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In the summer of 1997 I sat in a circle of woman who had come together to explore the intersection between leadership and womanhood. We spent time in silence on a Wyoming mountainside, and it was there that I saw a vision unfold of a world transformed through business. I saw entrepreneurs working together to care for people, for Earth, and for healing. I wrote the vision into a book, and took it on as my assignment to make it come true.

Over the next 22 years I tried—and I had some success in bringing sustainable business ideas to Wyoming SBDC, Wyoming Women’s Business Center, ASBDC, and the University of Wyoming. Yet, I was always a bit disappointed that the ideas weren’t catching on fast enough to be considered mainstream. I now recognize that the idea of business-as-a-force-for-good needed time to ripen—and all of the early activists like me were contributors to the ripening process. Today, signs of ripening are beginning to show; for example, last month 181 influential CEOs signed on to a new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” that includes creating value, not just for shareholders, but for ALL stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. Game on!

green box with quote about power

If you are a business or organization founded on the principle of doing something good for people or the planet—and you’d like to raise some money to help you do it better—now is the time for a crowdfunding campaign on TLC.

Why now? Because TLC wants to help people like you, and our current NSF project includes a study of how to do just that. By becoming part of the study, you’ll receive lots of benefits like coaching and networking with like-minded folks. Plus (and this is a BIG plus!), you can make the standard 5% platform fee disappear by meeting your goals. Interested?

We are recruiting our summer cohort now. Hop on to one of our weekly “Learn More” sessions, held every Friday. We can’t wait to meet you and help you create a successful and productive fundraising campaign!

blue box with statement about learning more about crowdfunding

Your crowdfunding success is just around the corner! Sign up here for our Learn More session.

In last week’s blog I mentioned our new research project with the National Science Foundation. We are excited about this and are trying to figure out ways to talk about it simply, concisely, yet compellingly.

We tossed around ideas for an elevator speech during our Jekyll Island trip, and serendipitously, we had an opportunity to test it on our way back to the airport. Lynda, our EDWARD Shuttle driver, asked us what we do. After noticing Kim’s quick glance that said, “Okay, girlfriend, you’re on!,” I gathered my thoughts and replied. “We have created a locally-based crowdfunding company with the intention of using it to fund social enterprises and help communities build ecosystems where these types of businesses can thrive.”

Linda was effusive — saying it “made her day” to learn about businesses dedicated to being a force for good. She even called us “her heroes.” That felt great, but it was also a bit embarrassing, because we know the real heroes are all the social entrepreneurs who are working hard to make our world a better, kinder and more beautiful place. If this describes you, we invite you to connect by introducing yourself in the comment section below.


sidney lanier bridge with blue sky

Crossing the Sydney Lanier Bridge on our way to Jekyll island with Robert, one of our awesome EDWARD Shuttle drivers.

Kim and I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Electric Cities of Georgia Forum. We met great folks from Georgia’s communities (including our own Sadie Krawczyk from Monroe!), and squeezed in some walking/talking time along Jekyll Island’s awesome beaches. We talked about our new NSF research project and how excited we are to work with social enterprises. These innovative companies are transforming business into a force for good and activating a culture of caring—caring for one another, for community, for the planet, for our future.

Diane Sontum on stage giving a presentation

One of the speakers at the ECG Forum helped us to crystalize our thoughts. Mayor Tommy Allegood of Acworth, GA challenged everyone to identify the one word that describes their organizational culture. Instantly I knew the answer for TLC—a word that our initials have been hinting at since we began—Care. We have always been TLC; but our new NSF work, and my own personal journey, have made us acutely aware that Tender Loving Care is an intention we want to deeply explore, live and amplify. If our culture really is the “stories we tell ourselves about ourselves,” then this story, the story of human beings caring for one other, may be the most important story we’ll ever tell.

selfie of Kim Vincent and Diane Sontum on a beach with ocean behind
blue box with quote from anthropologist Clifford Geertz