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The best source for news and information about crowdfunding for good.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: August 2015

Classy CEO: Why Shouldn’t Nonprofits Have World Class Tools?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Classy is among the largest crowdfunding sites focused on philanthropy. Scot Chisholm, CEO and co-founder, believes the company can fundamentally enhance a nonprofits ability to raise money and perform effectively.

Chisholm says, “A lot of nonprofits fear that online fundraising is impersonal and disconnected. They have a point, because if done incorrectly, a donation can seem purely transactional. We are changing that by making the experience of giving, or investing in a cause, remarkable for every organization on the Classy platform.”

“We look at our technology as a growth enabler for nonprofits and social enterprises. Whether you’re running a startup nonprofit organization or one that is already well established, we want to help your organization operate at a higher level of performance simply by running on Classy,” Chisholm adds.

“Why shouldn’t social enterprises have access to world-class tools that are tailored to their specialized needs? Nonprofits need to run efficient and sustainable operations if they’re going to be effective at solving a big social problem,” Chisholm concludes.

On Thursday, August 20, 2015 at noon Eastern, Chisholm will join me for a live discussion about improving online fundraising for nonprofit organizations. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Classy:

Twitter: @classy

Classy is a technology company that helps social impact organizations solve social problems faster. Since launching in 2011, Classy has helped more than 3,000 social enterprises including Oxfam, The World Food Program and National Geographic to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Classy also hosts the Classy Awards, known as “the Oscars of Philanthropy,” to recognize today’s greatest champions of social progress. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Classy employs a staff of more than 80 people and is backed by investors including Mithril and Salesforce Ventures.

Scot Chisolm

Scot Chisolm

Chisholm’s bio:

Twitter: @scotchisholm

Scot is the CEO and co-founder of Classy, the world’s largest fundraising platform for social good organizations. Scot also serves on the board of Team Rubicon, a veteran-led disaster relief nonprofit, and manages a values-based angel fund called Mixture. Scot was selected by Businessweek as one of the top 5 most promising social entrepreneurs in America in 2011, and a top 40 young leader under 40 by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine in 2009. Investments include, InDinero, Iodine and Casetext. Prior to Classy, Scot worked at Booz Allen Hamilton as a Senior Consultant on the Economic & Business Analysis team and earned a B.S in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Support The Shining Tree to Help Launch an Artists in Residence Programme

The Shining Tree, a Nonprofit art organization has launched a sustainable, supportive Artists in Residence and exhibition programme. They are raising money on Indiegogo. Recently I caught up with Debbie Taylor to learn more about the effort; here’s what she told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

Hello. I’m Debbie Taylor and I’ve made a garden retreat (with an off-grid studio) from a wasteland; a larger studio and exhibition space… they’re all part of my family home; and I want to offer this space to graduate artists who need a bit of time and a bit of space and a bit of support to develop their practice. The idea of a somehow transformative space where artists would be well looked after, and left alone when they wanted has grown from my own experiences. However, I don’t believe artists should have to pay to participate in residencies, nor do I believe that artists’ residencies should be the privilege of those with means… so I’m crowdfunding on Indiegogo to award participating artists a residency fee. Right now, I’ve two artists ‘trialling’ the programme. BENEFITS OF THE ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE PROGRAMME The programme benefits residency artists, the host organisation and the local community – including local businesses. The benefits set out below have been guided by The Shining Tree’s ongoing research into Artists Residencies, in particular from the Artists Moving & Learning European Report prepared by PACTE-CNRS and DEUSTO, a project funded with support from the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme.

  1. Professional development
  2. Economic benefits
  3. Cultural development
  4. Organisational Learning
  5. Profile


How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

Via my nonprofit ‘The Shining Tree’ I’m hoping to raise £2000 GBP on Indiegogo, I’ve raised almost half of that so far but only have days to go to reach my target! The money I raise will go directly to the artists involved this first year of the programme – it will be their residency fee so they can live in the village, any additional funds I raise will go towards their subsequent exhibition costs. This first year is a ‘pilot’ project, which I think is important, we’ll all learn a lot. For subsequent years of the programme I’ve applied for a small pot of public funding from UK organisations, and they’ll see I’ve raised this money myself this first year of the programme, that goes some way in helping to get arts funding!

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

The Shining Tree Artists in Residence programme will help to support two graduate visual artists based in Cumbria or Scotland each year, whatever their age. I want to help graduate artists who need a bit of time and space to develop their practice in a supportive, rural environment.

What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?

Almost all of the rewards I’m offering have a connection to the rural landscape where the Artists in Residence programme is based… homemade local produce (like honey and homemade sweets); hand-pulled screenprints inspired by a ‘libertine’ Jackdaw on my rooftop that I call ‘Juan’ (because the bird talks away and somehow sounds Spanish!) and original artworks by the artists in residence. I’m also offering my poetry, handwritten on handmade postcards… inspired by the garden retreat that’s part of the residency programme. Something for everyone – I hope!

Check out the campaign: Visit the website. Follow on Facebook. Follow on Twitter at @TheShiningTree

Enabling Not Aiding: A Solution To The Non-Profit Brain Drain

Toronto, Canada, 19-08-2015: PATHFINDER is a new social enterprise developed by co-founders, Shivani Singh and Jessica van Thiel of India and Canada, respectively. PATHFINDER intends to create sustainable, positive impact by enabling promising local social entrepreneurs with the critical resources and support they need to realize innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.

Singh and van Thiel met on their travels a few years ago and are global citizens in every sense, having grown up, studied, worked and lived in many countries. They share a great rapport and passion for travel and international affairs, and above all, a commitment to making a difference and contributing to a better world.

PATHFINDER is different from most consultancies in the way that its model operates. Its intention is to enable social entrepreneurs by providing them with the resources and funding they need to be able to focus entirely on their organizations and causes; because the current model that most non-profit organizations use is just not sustainable.

Too often professionals with a great deal of expertise and education are expected to work for very little or on a voluntary bases (in many cases). This of course is not sustainable and the result is a high turnover of staff, the abandonment of projects and in many cases the closure of the organization.

PATHFINDER aims to prove that their innovative model of operations will address these greatest known industry shortcomings and will tackle them head on by enabling (not aiding) promising local social entrepreneurs and engaging only sustainable and scalable operations.

Their focus is vast, with connections and future collaboration planned with entrepreneurs who support the following international causes: Animal Welfare; Climate Change; Education; Environment; Gender Equality; Human Rights; LGBT Equality and Support; and Water and Sanitation (among others).

Singh and van Thiel recently launched a funding campaign on Indiegogo and are hoping to raise the funds and interest they need to begin their work.

They have decided to deploy their new model of engagement and all of its supporting theories to two excellent pilot projects which include supporting children’s education in Nepal and the production of eco-friendly soaps that will promote sanitation and create jobs for disadvantaged women in India.

One of the projects, Pathfinder Nepal, assists children with educational subsidies in the Nepalese villages around the Pokhara valley. At the operational level, they regularly visit schoolmasters and aid impoverished children forced to drop out of school; in addition to funding schooling for children, they provide support by visiting families.

The second pilot project, The Drunken Chemist (TDC), is run by two sisters who are scientists/chemists by trade. They make soap formulae with locally sourced, responsible ingredients and they are environmentally sound and ethically tested (i.e. not on animals).

They are collaborating with PATHFINDER because in addition to growing their business in the US, they want to expand and focus on creating social impact. PATHFINDER is seeking to expand their operations to India, starting in the Rajasthan region, where they aim to open locally run shops, thereby creating jobs for impoverished women and to promote proper sanitation.

PATHFINDER’s goal is to raise an initial $100,000 USD. This is the very least they must raise to be able to begin work on two pilot projects. If they are able to meet their fundraising goal for the year, they expect to be able to work entirely on PATHFINDER, which is ideal for all of the participants.

The pair envision that at the end of 2016, they will have made great strides. The direct impact will be seen at the ‘grass roots’ level through their pilot projects. Supporting the education of the school children in Nepal, and the creation of jobs for rural women in India will be the tangible results seen right from the start.

However, raising funds is tough and raising funds where it is unlikely to make a massive return on investment right away, or where there isn’t a cool new gadget to grab, is even tougher. PATHFINDER is a social enterprise and “social entrepreneurship” is a relatively new, developing trend.

And as explained by Sarita Douglas of Demand Media, “A social enterprise faces the same issues that any traditional business faces in its growth and operations. But social entrepreneurs also face unique challenges in delivering the social value, social returns or social impact of the enterprise in addition to commercial value”.

Much work is yet to be done to discover the amazing benefits of running socially responsible and economically sustainable organizations. But Singh and van Thiel are confident that over time, their model will prove to be successful and demonstrating of enormous potential!

On their innovative model and projections for the future Singh said, “Over time, impact will begin to be immeasurable as the potential for expansion and the scope of projects and partnerships is endless”.

Rare Genomics Institute to Announce Winners for Crowdsourced Rare Disease Challenge to Award $600,000 Cutting-edge Technologies

– A novel mechanism to enable genomics and personalized medicine for rare diseases –

Washington, D.C. August 19th, 2015. The Rare Genomics (RG) Institute is delighted to announce the winners of the 2015 BeHEARD (Helping Empower and Accelerate Research Discoveries) science challenge, a global competition that offers rare disease researchers, who traditionally have difficulty attracting funding, grants of the latest life science innovations and technologies. This unique crowdsourced biotechnology contest allows many companies to gather together to make a difference for the rare disease community.

“This year alone, the competition received hundreds of outstanding quality submissions, coming from 99 universities and foundations located in 21 different countries”, said Dr. Claudia OuYang, BeHEARD Co-Director. “Over $600,000 worth of cutting-edge technologies were awarded to study 31 rare diseases.”

The winning proposals from BeHEARD 2015 will potentially yield key medical research insights to global research communities and have profound impact on therapeutic developments for rare disease patients.

One example is the BeHeard CRISPR mouse model, sponsored by Taconic Biosciences and Jackson Laboratory that was awarded to Dr. Carolyn Suzuki. This technology grant will allow her to work on CODAS syndrome, a rare multi-system developmental disorder.

Another winner, Dr. Michael Harris, a parent of Vici syndrome patient, says: “We are thrilled to receive this generous award on behalf of our son and other patients suffering from Vici syndrome. Though it is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder, this award will hopefully lead to new therapies and a better future for Vici syndrome patients.”

Genome analysis platforms donated by Tute Genomics, Cypher Genomics, and Maverix Biomics were awarded to 13 research proposals to help identify disease genes and biomarkers in rare diseases. Drug repositioning services sponsored by Biovista were awarded to Dr. Steven Laffoon for the study of Acid Sphingomyelinase Deficiency, a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorder.

Rare diseases affect more than 300 million worldwide, yet less than five percent of the 7,000 known rare diseases have treatments available. In light of the enormous diversity of research in the rare disease space, the BeHEARD challenge helps non-profits, academic researchers, rare disease advocacy groups, families of rare disease patients, and for-profit companies to collaborate in their collective mission to advance rare disease research.

“We want to congratulate the winners and thank everyone who participated: our sponsors, the reviewers, and all the applicants,” noted Dr. Arvin Gouw, BeHEARD Co-Director. “Their knowledge, resources and selfless support are crucial in our journey for fighting against rare diseases.”

More information about the 2015 BeHEARD winners can be found at the RG website:

For more information about the 2015 BeHEARD challenge, please visit:

2015 BeHEARD Technology Sponsors:

Taconic Biosciences (also the Corporate Sponsor)
The Jackson Laboratory
Tute Genomics
Cypher Genomics
Maverix Biomics
DNA Software
Collaborative Drug Discovery
Genetic Diagnostic Laboratories
Neuro-genetics Institute

About Rare Genomics Institute

Rare Genomics is an international 501(c) 3 non-profit that makes cutting edge research technologies of genome sequencing, physicians and scientists around the world accessible to rare disease patients. Rare Genomics helps families source, design and fund personalized research projects for diseases not otherwise studied helping rare disease patients find hope for a cure. By providing an expert network and an online crowdfunding mechanism Rare Genomics works alongside patients and their families, providing them with the necessary tools, knowledge, and connections so that they can better understand the cause of their disease.

For further information on Rare Genomics, please visit

Prodigy Network Launches Crowdfunding For The Assemblage/25th Street

Collaborative Workspaces combined with Short-Term Residential Living Come to NOMAD

NEW YORK (August 18, 2015)Prodigy Network, the leading name in real estate crowdfunding, launched a new crowdfunding campaign today for The Assemblage/25th Street which will creatively marry growing trends in collaborative workspaces with short–term residential living. Minimum investments will be $20,000 for US Accredited Investors and $50,000 for Foreign Investors.

“Prodigy Network is tapping into the thriving collaborative workspace market with The Assemblage/25th Street,” said Brian Newman, Vice President of Business Development for Prodigy Network. “The Assemblage will be home to a community of top creators and entrepreneurs, looking to connect and build relationships to achieve inspiring goals.”

The Assemblage/25th Street, a 12-story, 45,000 square foot loft building located at 114-116 East 25th Street. The project will be designed by the globally recognized New York City-based design boutique, Meyer Davis. The design boutique specializes in residential, hospitality, retail, and workplace environments, throughout the U.S. and abroad. They plan to make a creative use of its collaborative workspace and combine it with 42 luxury residential units. The property will have a roof top deck with a unique bar and exceptional views of the Manhattan skyline.

Today’s announcement marks the fourth Manhattan project for Prodigy Network following the successful projects of AKA Wall Street and AKA United Nations, both of which are currently reaching completion and approaching condo sales. The Assemblage/17John, located in the Financial District, successfully raised $50 million in crowdfunding.

Prodigy Network is the leader in real estate crowdfunding in the United States. To date its Manhattan portfolio, composed of three properties, exceeds an estimated value of $550 million with over $105 million of crowdfunded equity. To learn more about Prodigy Network, please visit

About Prodigy Network

Prodigy Network is the largest crowdfunding platform in the United States. The company has revolutionized both the commercial real estate and crowdfunding industries by being the first to meld the two worlds. Prodigy Network has raised more than $329 million in equity from approximately 6,200 investors, from 19 countries and 25 states in the United States, and is currently developing commercial real estate projects in Bogota and Manhattan, valued at more than $850 million. Major money center banks like Deutsche Bank, CIBC and Bank of America have provided traditional financing for Prodigy Network’s Manhattan projects. Rodrigo Nino, Founder and CEO, believes crowdfunding will democratize commercial real estate by providing a new asset class for small investors, revolutionizing the industry. Nino has spoken at worldwide conferences and a noteworthy guest at NYU, MIT, Yale, Harvard University and the AEDES gallery in Berlin, Germany. For more information please visit

The Shining Tree : Branching out with an Artists in Residence Programme

‘The Shining Tree’, a UK nonprofit arts organisation founded by artist and social entrepreneur Debbie Taylor in 2011, is raising funds via a rewards crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help launch a sustainable, supportive, locally relevant and meaningful Artists in Residence and Exhibition programme in a studio, exhibition space and garden in a small rural Cumbrian village on the fringe of the Lake District National Park.

Debbie’s fundraising goal is £2000 GBP and, while she’s had donations from family, friends and the local community, she has just days left to meet her target and hopes to do that by reaching out to and a broader art -loving audience who, she says “are interested in social enterprise and positive social impact, people who recognise that it only takes a few people to change things… People who will have never heard of this small, beautiful village in the back of beyond but who might want to help.”

By way of example, Debbie enthusiastically recounts a story from early on in her Indiegogo campaign. “There’s this gentleman in London who had come across my campaign by chance really, when casually searching Indiegogo to see if there was anything going on here ‘up North’. It turns out that he had visited Cumbria and the Lake District – and our neighbour, Scotland, once or twice, and he mailed me to ask an important, provocative question: sounds interesting, but what’s in it for me, aside from a small reward?

Well, we exchanged a few emails, discussed the feel good factor, crowdfunding in general, the opportunity to keep in touch, feel part of something, however small, a unique cultural legacy – he is clearly into art and cultural activities. Very soon after he made a sizeable donation, and it was such great feeling to see that when I woke up and checked how my campaign was doing… he lives in this huge bustling city and here I am in the middle of nowhere doing my thing, thanks in no small part to his donation. The generosity of strangers is wonderful, and yet I need more people to know about this project!”

Debbie became what she describes as a “social enterprise evangelist” in 2011. In November 2009 there was a major flood in the Cumbrian town where her established art gallery was based. “I got support from local social enterprises and organisations and became interested in what they stood for; but sadly, largely because of drawn out insurance claims and planning applications I decided not to open my gallery again after that flood, I felt I should try something new.”

For a time Debbie took up a high pressured job which required hours of commuting, “that really took its toll because, in hindsight, I was still devastated from losing my business; and coupled with that I experienced lots of, what I felt were, unethical business practices. I resigned from my job and started to attend social enterprise events and conferences. I also spent a lot of time at home with family and friends, collectively we started to develop The Shining Tree: at first a small online social enterprise art gallery shop and soon after a garden and studio/exhibition space – all part of my family home. For me this was a healing process, but I can’t tell you how long I’d dreamed of sharing this space with other artists who need a bit of time and a bit of space and a bit of support to develop their practice. The idea of a somehow transformative space where artists would be well looked after, and left alone when they wanted, just grew from there, and from my own experiences.”

The Shining Tree Artists in Residence Programme, Debbie explains, is “rooted in the rural, and will be most suited to artists who are interested in exploring the history, heritage and landscape of West Cumbria; its relationship to the coast and wider county of Cumbria and its relationship to the West Coast of Scotland (the residency studio and gallery overlooks The Solway Firth and the West coast of Scotland).

It’s a modest programme, the idea is that two graduate artists will be invited each summer at particular times to live and work here in the village. I’m not going to be ageist! participating graduate artists could be in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. At the end of their residency, at a later date, they will curate and host their exhibitions here at The Shining Tree, the exhibitions could even go on tour, wouldn’t that be something?

At the time of going to press Debbie’s campaign on Indiegogo is 49% funded and there’s five days left to make a donation in return for a number of rewards. The two graduate artists already trialling the first year of the residency programme are Scottish painter Martin Hill (Dundee) and environmental artist Helen Tuck (Cumbria.)

For more information you can visit Debbie’s Indiegogo campaign page ‘The Shining Tree Artists in Residence’

Women’s Worldwide Web (W4) Profile

This profile is part of our crowdfunding site directory. If you have used the site and have comments you’d like to share with our readers, please share them below. If you are part of the company and see an error that needs correcting, please send us an email.

About Women’s Worldwide Web (W4):

Women’s WorldWide Web (W4) is a progressive crowdfunding platform dedicated to girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world, in both developing and developed countries.

The W4 platform enables social investors (individuals, companies, organizations) to contribute—either financially, through crowdfunding; or in-kind, through mentoring and the sharing of skills—to revolutionary grassroots girls’ and women’s empowerment projects internationally.

The online portfolio of projects covers diverse fields: education, training, healthcare, financing (microfinance and crowdfunding), access to information and communication technologies, culture and the arts, sustainable development and the environment, rights awareness, as well as political participation.

A primary objective of W4 is to promote women’s social entrepreneurship.

TwistRate Profile

This profile is part of our crowdfunding site directory. If you have used the site and have comments you’d like to share with our readers, please share them below. If you are part of the company and see an error that needs correcting, please send us an email.

About TwistRate:

TwistRate is Americans coming together online to build the innovations, dreams and causes of America’s veterans, service members, law enforcement, outdoor enthusiasts, fishing and hunting communities.

TwistRate is a safe and secure platform that brings together people’s passions and ideas with people like themselves to fund and share with like-minded people.

Part social, part finance, all American. We bring your ideas to life, giving you the tools to take your great ideas to others in your community so they can benefit from your ingenuity. TwistRate brings communities together to fund their own, build their own and make their own – all on their own.

TwistRate was founded by Special Operations veterans who wanted to create a special place for the community that gives their all, protecting and serving their country, their cities, their neighbors and their brothers in arms.

TwistRate and you make the American Dream a reality by connecting the dreamers with the dollars.

SunFunder Profile

This profile is part of our crowdfunding site directory. If you have used the site and have comments you’d like to share with our readers, please share them below. If you are part of the company and see an error that needs correcting, please send us an email.

About SunFunder:

SunFunder is a solar investment platform for both accredited and institutional investors and crowd investors. It provides financing to grow solar energy businesses in emerging markets. SunFunder’s portfolio of high-impact solar loans bring sustainable and clean energy access to people that need it most.

StartEngine Profile

This profile is part of our crowdfunding site directory. If you have used the site and have comments you’d like to share with our readers, please share them below. If you are part of the company and see an error that needs correcting, please send us an email.

About StartEngine:

StartEngine is currently the largest tech startup accelerator in Los Angeles, and is preparing to launch a revolutionary Equity Crowdfunding platform that will connect entrepreneurs with everyday investors under Title III of the JOBS Act. This platform not only helps entrepreneurs raise funding, but also guides them on their path to success via StartEngine’s network of 270+ industry experts.

Over the past two and a half years, StartEngine has provided over 57 local startups with the essential resources and counsel. This shift to equity crowdfunding will further StartEngine’s reach and enable an even greater number of entrepreneurs to build successful, self-directed businesses.

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