The Local Crowd won a Crowdfundie Award at the Global Crowdfunding Convention last month and we are delighted that TLC’s work has been recognized as significant to the crowdfunding industry.

Thank you to our host communities—for having the courage, foresight and willingness to work hard to bring your citizens a new and unknown local crowdfunding tool. We hope you will post The Crowdfundie 2017 badge on your website with pride!

Thank you to all the campaign creators who told their stories and dared to ask others to support them. Your courage, persistence and hard work made it happen—raising  $172,000 from 1709 supporters—and proving that local crowdfunding really does work.

blue box with words thank you inside

Thank you to our friends at Community Funded Enterprises for pioneering the vision of local crowdfunding and developing the technology specifically for that purpose.

Thank you to crowdfunding Diva and founder of the Global Crowdfunding Convention, Ruth Hedges, who recognized the power of the TLC model and watched us through the years, cheering us on and showing up time after time to share her vast knowledge at our webinars and classes.

Thank you to our business support system that provided resources and technical support—USDA, Wyoming SBDC, Wyoming Business Council, Wyoming Workforce Development, Wyoming SBIR/STIR Initiative, Megan Goetz at Pence and MacMillan, Cheryl Anderson, Keith Harrington, Amanda Jeffers, Mike Vanata, Jessica Brauer and Larta Institute.

The award belongs to ALL OF US—let us celebrate The Crowdfundie together!

Diane Wolverton, Ruth Hedges and Kim Vincent at the 2017 Global Crowdfunding Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What if we could put an end to the gender gap women entrepreneurs face when raising capital? The answer to this question is hard to imagine because we have lived in a world filled with bias for so long. According to a 2014 report issued by the US Small Business Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, only 4% of the total dollar value of all small business loans goes to women entrepreneurs and women receive just 7% of venture fund dollars—in spite of the fact that the growth of women-owned firms outpaces that all other firm types.

But a breakthrough is coming that demolishes the gender gap—and that breakthrough is crowdfunding. Data from the Crowdfunding Center’s Women Unbound project show that campaigns led by women outperform those led by men—proving that when a woman’s access to capital is determined by the market rather than systems dominated by male bias, she is successful in raising the capital she needs.

The Women Unbound’s massive new data set includes analysis of hundreds of thousands of crowdfunding campaigns over a two year period and demonstrates that this bias against women evaporates in the crowdfunding space. Women thrive in the crowdfunding space—not just because of the capital they raise, but also because they discover further funding opportunities, create more engagement with their market, develop new collaborations, and create networks of supporters around them.

Through the education and networking features inherent in The Local Crowd platform, we are proud to accelerate the effective use of crowdfunding by women, particularly by women in the rural United States.

The sky is the limit for Women Unbound!

Did you know that asking for and returning favors is good for your community? Indeed, research shows that favor exchange is one of the surest ways to build social capital. People enjoy helping each other, and when helping and reciprocating become part of a culture—magic happens. Communities bursting with social capital cooperate better, have more fun, and build capacity to complete projects that improve the lives of the folks who live there.

blue box with quote about raising social capital

That’s what makes community-based crowdfunding platforms like The Local Crowd so powerful. The platform becomes  a venue for digital barn raising, where members of the community can show up for each other over and over again—sometimes asking and sometimes reciprocating. Serendipity Books & Antiques in Evanston, Wyoming gives us one example of how Paying it forward can become a way of life. After their successful crowdfunding campaign, they decided to donate the proceeds of their tip jar each month to a local nonprofit. Doing good does feel good—and like the Chinese proverb tells us, it’s the kind of pleasure that does not wear out.

Before I made this huge turnip into a yummy soup, I admired it—noticing the size of the bulb relative to that of the roots.

purple and white turnip on white background

Call me weird, but it made me think about crowdfunding marketing strategies and the synergy created by linking to different affinity groups. The big tap root is like the core network of the Campaign Creator—friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. The smaller roots are like all the groups connected to the core that might have an interest in the project. One friend is a member of a civic group; another heads up a chamber task force; a cousin has a retail shop in town. They are all connected to the tap root in some way, yet they branch out on their own, spreading the reach far and wide beyond the capacity of the tap root alone.

I serve on a committee that is planning to raise funds for a community labyrinth and our fundraising campaign can be strengthened by connecting with affinity groups such as local churches, metaphysical and religious supply shops, downtown organizations, parks and recreation departments and school groups. We will start with the core and see who among that core is connected to each one of these affinities. Then, by reaching out to those connections, we can create a huge and yummy success—just like my turnip!

Humans have been talking and writing about love for a very long time. In fact, for some, love ranks right up there with gravity as a force that holds the universe together. With all that power and acclaim, I wonder why we don’t talk about it much in the context of business.
blue box with two quotes, one from John Lennon and one from Dr. Martin Luther King

Business seems to relegate love to the realm of the soft, the naive, and the sentimental. You don’t see strategic plans with sections documenting all the ways that love will be woven into the fabric of a business or a community. But should we?

What would happen if community leaders recognized love as a core ingredient of civic planning and economic development?

Coach Dabo Swinney says it was the power of love that brought Clemson the national college championship a few weeks ago—a statement that takes love out of the realm of the sentimental and makes it very practical. At The Local Crowd, we’ve been thinking that way since the beginning—and that’s why we built the TLC model as a catalyst to actionalize love within communities and as a gathering place for people to share their stories, their resources, their love for each other and their shared sense of place.

green box with quote from Coach Dabo Swinney

 

Building a crowdfunding team is like building a fire. Lighting it starts with a big whoosh of energy and a fast burning flame. Then you watch it, worry it, and nurture it to make sure it doesn’t go out. Maybe you need to add more kindling, or move a few of the logs around so they can make better connections with one another and more easily distribute the flame. Careful observation and appropriate adjustments will result in a warm and satisfying fire that keeps on burning on as long as you add a new log now and then. When your fire is a team of humans, it helps to know what kind of kindling creates a big whoosh of flame at the beginning—what ideas, intentions, and information get people really excited? Watch for how the flame moves among team members—who is bright and who is dim? Keep stirring it and adding kindling until you see it really catch! Then you will have the pleasure of being part of an effective team that’s hot, vibrant, and full of the momentum it needs to accomplish its goals.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a glowing fire on a cold winter’s night!

 

I attended the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE) Leadership Summit last month and was inspired by people who are doing important work for communities, economies, each other and the environment.

During the event’s Idea Lab, I had exactly 60 seconds to share what TLC is doing, and our current call for new communities to join us. We’re looking for up to ten rural communities to become Demonstration Sites for The Local Crowd’s localized crowdfunding platform. These communities will have the opportunity to test drive their own crowdfunding platform for a year. Applicants can be economic or community development groups such as Main Street programs, SBDCs, Economic Development Councils, Chambers of Commerce, or other groups interested in bringing a new capital tool to their communities.

We held a pre-submission webinar a few weeks ago and here’s a link to the recording and powerpoint slides. Check out the Request for Proposals. Help us spread the word by sharing this! Deadline for your application is February 1. Thank you and Happy New Year to you!

woman shaking her hips during a crowdfunding presentation

The Local Crowd offers a new twist on crowdfunding…and I’m having way too much fun with my new Giffer App. See the full 60-Second BALLE presentation below.

Musician, artist and author Amanda Palmer wrote the book on asking, and she credits much of her knowhow to the experiences she had as a “living statue” and as a successful crowdfunder.

Asking is a core skill required for crowdfunding, yet it does not come easy. Asking makes us feel vulnerable—we worry about what people will think (I’m needy, greedy, inept or just a pest) and we fear the rejection of being told “no.” So how do we get past this? Amanda offers a key insight—the act of asking creates a connection between you and the people you ask—and when they feel connected, they want to help you.

woman performing as a bronze statue in the street to collect money

I saw this unfold last week when I was in New Orleans for the CDFA National Summit. A bronze maiden stood motionless on the sidewalk as two women stopped in front of her to snap a selfie. Before they could walk away, the statue made her ask by moving her right forefinger slightly up and down, pointing toward the money box at her feet. The women observed, felt the connection, and happily stuffed some cash into her box.

Amanda Palmer’s TED talk describes how her connections with her fans made her campaign the biggest music crowdfunding campaign at the time.

Crowdfunding creates opportunities for transformative gratitude exchanges when people contribute funds, products, efforts, and outreach to a campaign.

“Thank you so much, you are very kind!”

Those simple words boosted my spirits and made me glad that I took the time to drop a dollar into the Bourbon Street trumpeter’s bucket. The lift he gave me reminded me of just how transformative gratitude can be. For example, I enjoy cooking up my CSA bounty and sharing containers of goodies with friends—especially one friend who receives them with extraordinary relish and delight. She sends me lots of “yum!” texts and photos of her place settings. Her gratitude lights a fire in me to step up my game—more recipes, more varieties, more giving!

Community-based crowdfunding creates opportunities for transformative gratitude exchanges when people contribute funds, products, efforts, and outreach to a crowdfunding campaign. Exuberant appreciation from the campaign creators and community teams awakens the desire for more giving and it helps to build a culture rich in trust and social capital. These characteristics make up the strongest communities, ones that are better able to weather hardships, dream about and achieve big goals, and have more fun while doing it!

Check out this fun 90-second video with lots of stats about how gratitude is really good for you!

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Communities are embracing a “new normal” of capital access and fundraising with crowdfunding.

One of the best things about rural living is our close proximity to the source of local foods and the adventure of being part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. Kim and I have been part of the Grant Farms CSA for several years now, and every Friday we love opening the big green box to discover the week’s bountiful harvest.

woman holding vegetables and unpacking them from bin
Each vegetable we unpack sparks creative thoughts of recipes and processes for turning Mother Nature’s delights into food for ourselves, our families and friends. But it hasn’t always been this way. My first introduction to a Kohlrabi was frightening — I had no idea what this purple spaceship-like bulb was — let alone how to prepare it and, gulp, eat it. But over the past five years I have persevered — tackling each new vegetable as it appeared and establishing new processes to avoid waste (freezing, drying, juicing, smoothie making).

So it is with crowdfunding. At the recent Global Crowdfunding Convention, we heard statements like the one made by SEC Senior Economist Vladimir Ivanov, “Crowdfunding is a sound economic concept and soon will be mainstream.” As our communities transition to this “new normal” of capital access and fundraising, some of it will seem as alien as my first kohlrabi—yet with perseverance and commitment, we will learn new processes, new recipes for success and new delight in ways to support our friends, families and the hometowns we love.

kim-with-veggies

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