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Entrepreneur Works Crowdfunds to Expand Business Development Programs

December 9, 2014 Category: FundingUncategorized

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Entrepreneur Works, a community development financial institution (CDFI) focused on small business development in the region, launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo last month with the goal of raising $10,000 to increase the number of community members it serves. The campaign is halfway towards its goal with 22 days left.

The campaign represents a new approach to fundraising and donor outreach for the organization, according to Leslie Benoliel, executive director of Entrepreneur Works.

“We were brainstorming as a staff different ways to raise money for the organization and different ways to try and connect with new donors,” she said.

Entrepreneur Works, which has offices in Philadelphia and Chester, provides classes,workshops and one-on-one consultations for small businesses in some of the region’s most economically-depressed communities. It also offers loans between $500 and $50,000 for start-up costs, capital improvements, repairs, inventory purchases and other common small business expenditures.

The organization raises about $50,000 per year from individual donors, which includes long-time supporters and board members. One of the goals of the campaign is to widen its pool of donors by using a method, online crowd funding, that appeals to millennials.

“We’ve built up a very robust group — I’d say about 70 people — who give to us pretty much annually, but we are trying to look beyond that, especially to younger generations to start building a rapport with them,” Benoliel said.

Out of the 60 or so donors that have contributed to the campaign so far, around 15 are new supporters. The rest would have given to Entrepreneur Works regardless, according to Benoliel, but there is still value in channeling their support through a crowdfunding campaign.

An article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a national magazine looking at solutions to social problems, argues that existing donors can be used to enforce the effectiveness of a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign: “Existing donors can do more than participate in early, direct funding of a campaign. Crowdfunding amplifies the value of your current donors’ diligence and uses their connections to mobilize a larger crowd of support.”

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The crowdfunding campaign is not a replacement, Benoliel explained, but rather a way to enforce their current fundraising.

“We see this is an extension of what we already do in terms of reaching out for contributions at the end of the year,” she said.

Image via Entrepreneur Works 

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