Social Enterprises Invited to Participate in NSF Study on Crowdfunded Finance Methods

The Local Crowd team group photo in Washington as NSF conference

Research & Development to provide support for the emerging Fourth Sector of the economy.

The Local Crowd, LLC, a Wyoming-based company, is the recipient of a $225,000 National Science Foundation grant designed to support the emerging fourth sector of the economy.

“We are seeing a huge push for socially and environmentally responsible business,” said Diane Sontum, co-founder of The Local Crowd. “We believe that consumers are demanding a more conscious form of capitalism.”

The Local Crowd combines a world class crowdfunding platform with a peer learning process. “We have found that your chance of success goes up when you have people with you who can share in your journey,” said Sontum, “Many first time crowdfunders are not sure how to improve their odds. We realized there was a need for education and support. Our success rate is hovering around 60% right now and we anticipate that it will increase.”

Social Enterprise in Focus

The platform will feature campaigns that take on pressing social or environmental challenges.

According to Heerad Sabeti, CEO of the Fourth Sector Group, “a new, fourth sector of the economy has emerged at the intersection of the three traditional sectors. It consists of for-benefit organizations, which come in a wide variety of models that all share two common characteristics. Like non-profits, their primary purpose is to advance societal benefit and, like for-profits, they generate a substantial portion of their income from business activities.”

“The fourth sector of the economy is poised to solve many of the world’s most difficult and complex social problems,” remarked Sontum. “However, this sector cannot work effectively without a supportive ecosystem that enables the creation, funding, and operation of organizations within it. We are building tools that will support owners and entrepreneurs within the Fourth Sector ecosystem.”

About The Local Crowd

The team at The Local Crowd will offer a community based “crowdfunding incubator.” The team consists of Diane Sontum, CEO and cofounder, Kim Vincent, COO and co founder, and Jason Arnold, community manager. The team will use the grant to initiate work with four pilot communities throughout the U.S.

This Phase I award was supported by a $5,000 Phase 0 contract from the Wyoming SBDC Network’s SBIR/STTR Initiative. The team at The Local Crowd used the Phase 0 funds to travel for meetings with strategic partners and for proposal development. The Local Crowd also received matching SBIR funds from the Wyoming Business Council.

“The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports startups and small businesses with the most innovative, cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to become great commercial successes and make huge societal impacts,” said Graciela Narcho, Acting Director of Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “We hope that seed funding will spark solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time across all areas of science and technology.”

If you are a social enterprise

The team at The Local Crowd is seeking social and environmentally motivated enterprises in their initial research. To take part in a 30-minute, structured interview, please contact The Local Crowd.
Twitter: @TLCpower

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