CROWDIMPACT: The Importance of Social Enterprise Through Crowdfunding



                        Silicon Beach Drives Home 

                                the Importance of

           Social Enterprise through Crowdfunding


By Heather Martin

This past April, techies, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and the local community came together at the Real Office Centers (ROC) in Santa Monica to support Social Entrepreneurship in an event titled CROWDIMPACT.  Hosted by Crowdfunder – a global social network and crowdfunding platform exclusively for businesses – in partnership with Demand Media and Cal-X Crowdfund Connect, CROWDIMPACT engaged some of the most innovative companies in social enterprise and their networks including Toniic, TED Fellows, Kairos Society, Thiel Foundation, and Christie Communication, among others.


Crowdsourcing is a relatively new concept that is gaining traction – it encompasses, generally, the practice of obtaining needed funding, services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people (the “crowd”), and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”*  Crowdsourcingrefers to the broader concept of an individual reaching a goal by receiving and leveraging any type of resource in small contributions from many parties; whereas Crowdfunding specifically is an approach to raising capital for new projects and businesses by aggregating funding, either contribution or investment, from a large number of stakeholders.**


Crowdfunder is a business funding[mg1]  network that was founded in 2011 to help democratize access to capital for small business owners in the US who don’t have access to wealthy investors, yet are made up of successful and deserving entrepreneurs and management teams. Based in Los Angeles, it serves three types of companies: Startups, Social Enterprises and Small Businesses through a unique community-based focus that connects local ecosystems of entrepreneurs and investors both online and offline.


The recent CROWDIMPACT event held in Santa Monica was the world’s largest Social Enterprise Business Presentation Forum to date. What is a Social Enterprise business? By Crowdfunder’s definition, a for-profit social enterprise business is a unique entity that meets three very specific criteria:


1. Internal Impact in the way they treat employees, engage in production, select materials, and other factors.

2. External Impact in what they contribute to the environment, their community, and/or humanity.

3. Legal Accountability in their incorporation documents, mission statements or stated values.


As Crowdfunder CEO, Chance Barnett said: “We’re really excited about accelerating impact entrepreneurship. People supporting these types of companies are effectively supporting causes and impact alongside that. They’re not only supporting and potentially investing for profits, but they’re also aligning with purpose, and those things don’t have to be separate these days.”


The goal of the event was to engage the global impact community by connecting quality social enterprises with aligned individuals online and offline to accelerate impact entrepreneurship. Finalists got to present their companies to some of the most influential minds in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact aligned individuals and institutions for a chance to win $30,000 in cash prizes.


The winner of the CROWDIMPACT grand prize of $20,000 was Erine Gray, the founder of Aunt Bertha, from Austin, TX. Gray said, “CROWDIMPACT was big for us. With such a great collection of social entrepreneurs it was an honor just to be a finalist. To win exceeded our expectations. Because of this, we met some key people that will help us grow and reach our mission to make human service information accessible to people and programs.”***


Gray founded Aunt Bertha after he became his disabled mother’s legal guardian in 2002. Through that experience, he came to realize that in the United States, over a million non-profits and government agencies provide need-based food, health, housing and education programs but the process is so confusing, people just give up and suffer unnecessarily. Aunt Bertha connects people with need based services while significantly improving the backend operations for government agencies and charities. ****


On the Aunt Bertha website, they outline their beliefs:

1. We believe everybody should be able to find program information in seconds.

2. We believe people can and will help themselves with the right tools.

3. We believe that data shows patterns that can help prevent suffering.

4. We believe organizations and communities want better ways to work together.

5. We believe software should never get in the way of helping people.


Social Enterprise businesses are a monumental shift in mindset and action, and by utilizing the infrastructure of social media and tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit, driving growth and the betterment of the world we live in.  CROWDIMPACT, an event supported by the local and online community, is one fantastic example of how the democratic approach of crowdfunding can be focused to engage a truly global crowd towards the expansion of entrepreneurialism.


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Heather Martin is a Business Performance Advisor for Insperity, a NYSE publicly traded company that specializes in HR outsourcing and benefits solutions that help small and medium sized business succeed so that communities prosper.  She is also a freelance writer and creator of Crush the Box productions.  She has a degree in Economics from CSUN and a Masters in Business Administration from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.  She has a passion for writing about the intersection of business, economics and politics.


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