It’s easy to motivate crowd funding donors when there’s an obvious quid pro quo. (“We’ll send you a free jar of sauce when you pledge $12!”) But how do you entice people to give money to a social cause?
That’s what Ashley Cesero, Carter Nuttall, and Manuel Lopez Campos have been discovering this fall in “Crowd Funding the Venture.” As budding social entrepreneurs, they’re raising money on Indiegogo to help Upward Bound students attend StartUp Suffolk. That’s a two-week bridge program that gives high school rising seniors the chance to live on campus for 12 days, dive deep into entrepreneurship, and experience a little taste of college life. They even get to pitch their own business ideas and compete for the StartUp Suffolk Entrepreneur-of-the-Year Award.
It’s a simple idea that’s not so simple to execute in the crowd funding space.
“We found that, since our campaign is a social venture,” says Manuel, “donors don't want anything in return. So most of them won't click “Donate” to get a reward.”
“So we had to think of different ways to attract people,” adds Ashley, “like dinner with the dean of Sawyer Business School.” Other incentives include a hand-written thank-you note from one of the Upward Bound students or the chance to have your business used as a case study for all the Entrepreneurship classes next year.
While the goal of the Upward Bound project might be different, the initial secret to success is like the other projects: Get The Word Out.
“I know we have reached out to what feels like five billion people, and it still doesn't feel like that's enough,” says Ashley. “I even reached back to teachers from my high school, dance teachers, you name it. I've even made family members and friends all share all my posts.
“We just have to connect with a lot of people,” says Carter. “We’ve got to reach out to everybody we know.”