This is one of the most well-known and well trafficked crowdfunding platforms. It’s also known for being more ‘cause’ focused, making it a natural fit for those of us in cause based business.
This is the biggest crowdfunding platform in the world, so almost everyone’s heard of it now. This means competition for dollars on there is fierce, so you’ll really have to bring your A-Game.
Crowdrise is specifically geared to raise money for charitable (non-profit) causes. But, this can be a great fit for you if you want to raise cash and build some buzz for the non-profit your business will support.
An agile platform for dynamic, inspired people’. This is pozible’s mantra, and it shows why this platform can be the perfect fit for us. While it is not exclusively for social entrepreneurs, it is a hub for creatives, inspirers, and do-gooders of all stripes, so its audience could be a natural fit for you.
Start Some Good
As one of the fastest growing crowd-funding sites, this is a great place for social entrepreneurs because it is purpose based. They also are a smaller community in comparison to Kickstarter, so you can get more attention here.
- The Solution Revolution, by William D. Eggers - Written by a few guys from Deloitte, this book is a detailed look at how business is radically shifting to a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.
- Building a Social Business, by Muhammad Yunus - If Blake's the father, then Yunus is the grandfather of the entire social entrepreneurship movement. Check out this book to get inspired about making a dollar AND a difference.
- Start Something that Matters, by Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes - Blake's the father of social entrepreneurship in the U.S., and his book inspired all we do around here. Pick it up, read it, and start building your own world changing movement. Bonus: You get to email Blake when you finish the book, and tell him about your social change project.
- Wisdom Meets Passion, by Jared Angaza and Dan Miller - Dan is the father, full of the wisdom of the baby boomer generation (e.g. building a solid business plan, revenues, and profits). Jared is his free spirit son (I interviewed Jared for this podcast) who has created social justice and social change around the world. They team up for a passionate discussion about how to balance your dreams of sparking change with creating a sustainable plan.
- The Promise of a Pencil, by Adam Braun - I've also been known to call this book "The Handbook for My Life". If you haven't read this, get it now. It's required reading for any change agent. Adam walks you through 30 mantras for changing the world, they're mantras he lived through and lives out every day as he works to add to the thousands of schools he's built around the world.
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hseih - You've probably heard of Zappos before, well, Tony founded this company that has redefined how a biz should treat customers, the planet, and its employees. More importantly for us, Tony has used his business to transform blighted communities in Vegas. This book is his blueprint.
- Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder - This tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who, while still in med school, devoted his life to the people of Haiti and their medical care. Pick it up, get inspired, and go climb your mountain.
- The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries - This is not exclusively for cause based business, but I think it's even more important for us than for traditional business. It's tough enough running a standard business, but it's ever more difficult when you're weaving a social mission into your economic mission. Pick up this book for the best analysis on how to start a movement on a budget (or even a shoestring).
- Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof - An amazing book about empowering women and a roadmap for how you can empower formerly oppressed communities to change the world.
- The Power of Half, by Hannah Salwen - Written by a 12 year old & her father, this book is the touching story of a family who sold half of what they owned and gave it to carefully selected charities. A powerful statement about what we believe is important.
- Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl - Written by a holocaust survivor, this is the most touching and inspiring book I've ever read. Pick it up, devour it, and realize how important it is to be driven by a purpose.
Venture Capital for Social Entrepreneurs
- Acumen Fund – This is one of the best known cause driven investment funds out there. It’s also one of the more competitive, but if you’re working to create social good in Latin America, Africa, India, or Pakistan, you can’t beat having these cats in your corner. Even if you’re not going to be working in these regions, I’d highly recommend reading up on Acumen because they have some great resources and insight on social enterprise investing.
- Investors Circle – This is the largest and most active investor in early stage social entrepreneurs. I also really like that they serve as a ‘matchmaker’ of sorts to pair social entrepreneurs with investors that best fit them. With $200 Million invested in over 300 social ventures, these cats are definitely worth looking into.
- Good Capital – Investments primarily focus on ventures that seek to create innovative, market based solutions to poverty and income inequality. They are especially notable for their network of mentors and investors who can help you not only with cash, but with guidance.
- City Light Capital – I really like this crew. Many of them were traditional financial advisers who were deeply impacted by the events of 9/11. Those events caused them to shift gears and start investing in resolving society’s most pressing problems. The result is a caring team of investors who have a nose for sniffing out entrepreneurs ready to make a dollar AND a difference.
- Skoll Foundation – This foundation isn’t a traditional venture capitalist, rather, they tend to issue grants (which don’t take a portion of your company), below market rate loans, or some combination of both. Better yet, Skoll is one of the best known names in Social Entrepreneurship. Their network is phenomenally robust, but be ready for increased competition.
- Ashoka – They’ve spent decades equipping social entrepreneurs the world over. You can even pop onto their website and search their directory for other social entrepreneurs in your industry. Funding levels vary depending on project and country, but they offer generous funding and the support of one of the best equipped networks in the biz.
- Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship – This fellowship primarily offers pro bono educational and consulting services; however, the powerful Schwab network will also open doors to funding avenues that would be otherwise unavailable to people outside the network. It is highly competitive, but well worth looking into.
- Echoing Green – One of the most prestigious fellowships around, it’ll offer you up to $90k to launch your social venture. Previous fellow include the founders of Teach for America, City Year, and SKS Finance.
- Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation – Offering grants to early stage social entrepreneurs – typically in their first 1-3 years. To qualify you need to have an organization with a legal existence and presence in the U.S. and you need to plan to scale your impact. Grants vary in amount and the foundation also provides a great deal of mentorship as you grow your movement.