This fortnight, our Community Ambassador, Lisa Fox (CEO and cofounder of OpenShed) chats to Tom Dawkins of StartSomeGood about peer-funding and their community of changemakers.

Name: Tom Dawkins
Twitter handle: 
StartSomeGood & Make Believe

How did StartSomeGood come about? 

My co-founder Alex and I met while working at Ashoka in Washington DC. Ashoka is the world’s leading organisation support social entrepreneurs. Ashoka’s mission is to create an “Everyone a Changemaker World.” I was the social media director, exploring how social technologies could support help bring about this world. Having founded a couple of non-profits previous and spent a lot of time fundraising I understood that access to seed capital is one of the greatest barriers to new changemakers and innovations. Meanwhile Alex had been traveling in India and had had a realization that social change needed to be a mass movement and that it would take communities working together to bring about a better future. We re-connected and started talking about how we could support emerging social entrepreneurs and changemakers to raise the funds and rally the community they need to make a difference and over many late nights and a lot of coffee StartSomeGood was born.

You prefer to use the term “peer-funding” rather than “crowd-funding” can you explain why?

Crowdfunding as a term derives from crowdsourcing which derives from outsourcing. Crowdsourcing describes a non-collaborative dynamic of competing to win the right to do projects. This is a terrible analogue for any fundraising platform. We prefer to think of this as peer-to-peer fundraising. This isn’t just a matter of preference however but a more accurate way to describe what’s really happening. There just isn’t a big anonymous group of individuals out there just waiting to fund your project. The initial group of supporters for almost any successful project is the personal community cultivated by the founding team. Without their support you are unlikely to make it out to a wider audience. So focus on peers and the crowds will follow.

What are your three top tips for someone thinking about starting a StartSomeGood campaign?

  1. Craft a compelling story about the future you are creating
  2. Design rewards which connect supporters to your project and further your social mission
  3. Work really hard on sharing your story and inviting people to be part of it. Successful fundraising takes work, there’s no way around it.

Are there any exciting plans for the second half of 2012 for StartSomeGood you can share with us? 

Our focus right now is on growing and internationalising our community of Changemakers. There’s a lot of amazing and important social initiatives who are not currently supported by the creative crowdfunding platforms or the traditional charity fundraising websites. We are focused on connecting with changemakers and helping them design fundraising campaigns that work. We tripled the number of campaigns on our site in the first half of the year and hope to do that again in the second half. And each successful campaign represents a very real impact in the real world. We think that’s pretty exciting.

Where do you seek inspiration? 

My main inspiration comes from the social entrepreneurs using our platform to make the big scary and important leap from idea to action. It takes a lot of guts to put an idea out there and ask for support; to step up and commit yourself to making a difference for your community and to create a better future. It’s an enormous honour to work closely with and support so many inspiring changemakers.
Where do you get your information from?

Where do you get your information from?

Twitter mostly. I find it incredibly useful for keeping track of friends and social entrepreneurs all over the world and connecting with people around shared interests and passions.

What are some upcoming events you would recommend to the Fetch community?

The Biennale of Sydney is on at the moment and I would definitely recommend it – it only comes every second year! For more regular inspiration check out Vibewire’s monthly fastBREAK event, an early-morning get-together at the Powerhouse Museum with fascinating short speeches and delicious food. Also the Think Act Change meet-ups, the Young Entrepreneurs meet-up at the Vibewire Hub coworking space and keep an eye out for the next Social Startup 48.

About our Ambassador // Lisa Fox is a recovering a Government Lawyer and the Co Founder and Director of the peer-to-peer rental site, Open Shed.  Lisa is passionate about spreading the word about the Australian Collaborative Consumption movement and helping Australians access what they need when they need it! Connect with Lisa via @_lisafox or @openshed.