Crowdfunding for US Veterans? Here’s a Way to Get the Word Out

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Remember Bob Woodruff ? He is the journalist who worked as co-anchor for ABC News until he was hit by a roadside bomb while on assignment in Iraq, in 2006. His head injuries left him with lingering aphasia, the loss or inability to express speech.

He may no longer be sitting behind the big desk but he’s far from off duty. According to the site, the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s mission is to “ensure that injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home.”BWF_stacked_lockup_outlines

With so many crowdfunding campaigns and organizations dedicated to similar missions, we know there are cracks in the system. In order to redress this in a creative way, the Foundation is requesting your stories in a project called “Writing for Heroes.

It is our hope that we can expand the conversation, through Writing for Heroes, a collection of stories by our team and those we work with: grantees, caregivers, family members, and of course, those who have served.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking about running a crowdfunding campaign that will help veterans to write and submit a story. Whether you’re the injured veteran, a family member of one, or even if you heard a story from someone that was especially moving to you, please commit it to print and send it in.

Story has the power to heal. And it also has the power to raise capital. And please send this to anyone you know who might benefit.

 —Remember, only 1% of American citizens serve in our all-volunteer army.

A Procrastinator’s Guide to #GivingTuesday

I’ve got plenty of time, I hear you all saying, because that’s what we all say when it comes to deadlines.

So if, like me, you find yourself behind the eight ball this #Giving Tuesday, but still want to do your part, here are a few eminently worthy causes you can consider. I’ve been following all these organizations to varying degrees over the past year or so and find them all to be doing one helluva job finding creative and inspiring solutions to some of the more intractable problems.

Watts of Love

John and Nancy Economou’s journey to bring light to such places as the Philippines, Mozambique, Haiti, and more, began when they witnessed first-hand the devastation darkness can have on families and whole societies in developing countries. Theirs is a fairy tale-cum-calling to change that. Being in the lighting business themselves, they designed and developed a really cool solar-powered lantern that not only provides invaluable light, so families could work later into the night, but also saves people from overexposure to toxic kerosene fumes. Their work grew from there. To see all their solar-light products, go here or check them out below.

WATTS

The lantern also ingeniously includes all possible USB drives so that villagers with a lantern could become entrepreneurs by selling their “power” to those who need a cell phone charge. These things may sound small to you and me but they’ve have an astounding positive impact on people’s bottom line.

 

 

Fallen Soldiers March: Service Dogs for Wounded Veterans

The Fallen Soldiers March is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization devoted to raising the funds required to purchase Service Dogs for Veterans. Because of the government’s position not to provide Service Dogs to the majority of Veterans equally who are challenged with mobility, PTSD, neurological challenges and other invisible conditions these folks are filling a tremendous void. There are no full-time paid positions under current leadership unless a corporation or foundation underwrites a separate operating budget, which are then allocated to be used to purchase service dogs for veterans.

dog

Sitara Foundation

Sitara Foundation is the charitable arm of Sitara Collections. The Foundation was started by Linda Singh and her husband Vinay who wanted to build a school in honor of his recently deceased father who valued education—all on their own dime. That’s how Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya or SVV School was born.

ourschool

In the meantime, Linda fell in love with the local crafts made by the women artisans. To share them with the world she launched Sitara Collections. She returns a portion of the proceeds to the people and culture sharing their gifts with the world by funneling net proceeds of Sitara Collections directly to the Sitara Foundation to sustain its vision of giving back.

The Himalayan Stove Project

Because cooking shouldn’t kill. That’s not me talking, it’s Julia Roberts, who graces their website in a moving video.

Rather than talk your ear off about all the reasons you should contribute, check out their infographic, which says it all.

Indoor Air Pollution

They are way more on top of #GivingTuesday than I, so go to their Facebook page for more details.

WaterForLifeCharity

This amazing group of people have been working hard in multiple developing countries to bring them clean water in the form of a compact, inexpensive, water filter. There’s an individual filter and a family size to choose from. Here’s a video that contrasts our lives to those in many parts of the world. I hope it inspires you to help, as well as to be more cognizant of not wasting this valuable resource.

Many, if not all, of these organizations are gearing up to launch crowdfunding campaigns. When they launch, they will be on point and fully prepped, because they’ve been in pre-launch mode for months, which, if you know me is music to my ears. So you should give to their campaigns, too!

Oh, if you need an explanation on #GivingTuesday, or to understand how this all works, go here.

Happy #GivingTuesday!

Forget Crowdfunding Advice! Learn by Example

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I don’t know about you but I learn best by example. You could give me all the hypotheticals in the world and that’s usually what they remain: egg-headed theories.

Most crowdfunding advice, written in the form of blog posts at least, is dispensed this way; I’m guilty of it myself. (Though I like to think I drill down well when I’m consulting with individuals.)

The stuff you guys read can be so general that when you try to incorporate it into your own crowdfunding campaign you’re stymied. I get that.

So after reading a story in The Nerdist yesterday about the creative approach they took to nabbing Tom Hanks on their podcast —that’s right the Hollywood acting god—I had to share.

If I had a dime for every time I talked to a project creator who was trying get funding to turn a cool project from a prototype to mass production, I’d have a bunch of dimes.

I suggest they send out prototypes to the hotshots in their sphere of influence and they say, Can’t be done. I only have [fill in small number here] prototypes, they’re expensive, and I can’t take the risk. I get that, too.

So that leaves us to puzzle out how to capture the imaginations of the people that matter so they give your idea a twirl. Much head scratching ensues—without much resolution.

Which takes me back to this Nerdist story. In a burst of creative genius those guys did something I think you project creators should take to heart. What they did was they researched Hanks and discovered he’s a collector of typewriters. Then they sent him a vintage typewriter with an invitation, typed on the machine and left in the roller. (Is that what they’re called?)

You can read the story with the very happy ending here.

It IS possible to get some primo press if you do your homework and let your creative freak flag fly. 1130714sir36vusni

Please don’t settle for the pat and pathetic form letter. These will get you nowhere, believe me. I get them all the time and after getting annoyed I delete. Why should I work harder than you? The people at The Nerdist worked hard and their efforts paid off.

Try it. And report back your success stories, please.

 

How to Shop for a Pitch Video Creator

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I’ve been thinking about pitch videos these days, mostly because I’m asked about them all the time. I’ve also given some advice on the topic on my Rose Recommends column on Crowdsourcing.org. Here’s one on how to avoid manipulation. And here’s another about making sure your message is crystal clear. If you haven’t seen the column, here’s the link to the archives.

But just the other day I read an interview conducted by Good Magazine with Yancey Strickler. The Q&A covers a lot of topics—from how Strickler cut his entrepreneurial teeth to Kickstarter’s new, relaxed rules to the infamous Potato Salad campaign, so I’d suggest giving it a read.

What I really appreciated most, however, was his response to blogger Arye Dworken’s question about pitch videos.

Question: Is it a concern of yours that some campaigns have a flashier presentation with high budget videos, which inadvertently may reintroduce that intimidation factor?

“I would love to put more of a light on things that are more amateur. We don’t have the resources for that yet, but we would love to eventually move in a direction in which, say, someone shot something on their iPhone and we could be involved in bringing it the attention it deserves.”

This is such a good point. I sure hope Kickstarter decides to dedicate the resources soon—because it’s tough to believe they’re just too flat broke to hire a couple of researchers to seek out the low-tech but fabulous videos—and because right now there are a lot of crowdfunders spending exorbitantly on hiring a professional production company to create their pitch videos and that’s too bad.Video_Camera_Glossy_Icon_clip_art_medium

The problem is few of these production companies have crowdfunding expertise. Ironically, while these professionals are admittedly talented, if they are unfamiliar with the simple formula for a successful crowdfunding videos they will miss the mark—and you’re thousands of dollars in the hole, stuck with a pitch video that doesn’t work. Sometimes it mean you lose potential backers because the video doesn’t answer important questions, sometimes it’s because you appear too slick. It happens.

Fun fact #1: Did you know Ryan Grepper, the founder of Coolest Cooler, hired a 17-year-old to make his video?

Fun fact #2: Campaigns raise on average 114% more if they have a video.

Not so fun fact #3: I recently consulted with someone who suffered from many of the above problems—lots of money spent on a professional video, little to show for it because the video seemed more like a polished commercial than a pitch video. Worst of all, in trying to keep the budget numbers as low as possible, they shot in one day.

No problem there, except that a seasoned pitch video producer would have known to suggest shooting multiple endings for the video. One ending, which could be posted on your “hub” (probably website) well in advance of your launch date, would serve as a way to lure and entice folks to sign up for email notifications when the campaign went live.

The second ending would have been cut in when the campaign was up and running. That ending would have a call to action asking for viewers to contribute.

Conclusion: When shopping for a videographer make sure to ask candidates about their experience with shooting pitch videos. Ask to see samples. Give them examples of styles you like and then ask for a proposal, including a budget. This is common practice in the video production world.

And if all else fails, see if Grepper’s 17-year-old is available.

 

 

 

Raja is a Cool Cat You Should Know

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Today is my birthday. And my gift to myself is to break my own rule and feature a campaign for no other reason than that I want it to succeed. Because its message, if we support it now, has real positive social implications for the next generation.

The campaign is called The Restricted Adventures of Raja the Cat. It was created by Red Rover, an organization that brings animals out of crisis and into care. Founder Nicole Forsyth is a beautiful writer and her “E-Books for Empathy” project is a community-based literacy program that helps children explore the bond between people and animals through stories and discussion. The ripple effect doesn’t stop there. Forsyth is offering teachers free downloads for their entire schools.E-Book_panel1b_400px

The graphic novel series is for 7-10 year olds and has got interactive learning built in to help kids practice their empathy skills—something we can all use. But—and I promise not to get on my high-horse here, but when it’s reported that the earth has lost half its wildlife population in the last 40 years—you understand the need for humans to begin living way more consciously and respectfully towards the animals with whom we share the planet.

The campaign is on Kickstarter and has only 9 days to go, so it’s all the more urgent it reach its goal.  Here’s the craziest /doable part: ACCORDING TO KICKTRAQ IT’S TRENDING TO REACH 99% OF THE GOAL!

Get ’em while they’re young! And pat yourselves on the back for being part of the solution.

Now I have a date with a cake.

Do You Know Your Unfair Advantage?

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve found in working with left-brain thinkers—the logical, analytical, and objective types who tend to be CEOs—is to go with me on the journey of mining for the gold in their own story. It’s a concept that to them seems secondary to the real point, which is selling the product they want to fund.

The problem is most of them are still living out the old paradigm where people bought blindly from companies with fat advertising budgets to create an “image” they could hide behind while placing the product front and center.

Except we now live in the age of social media, and that means people want to buy into YOU not your business plan or your marketing strategy. It’s a concept that trips up many an entrepreneur when they attempt convey their crowdfunding project in a way that engages, inspires trust, and creates the kind of passion that motivates someone to pull out her wallet now or risk a bad case of FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out.

How to bridge the divide?

Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks

I often find inspiration through pop culture. For example, I recently listened to an episode of This American Life, distributed by PRX, which opened my eyes to a fresh and more pertinent way to help entrepreneurs understand how to frame their story impactfully and effectively. Follow me in this story and I think you’ll find it pays off.

The three-act show always has a theme. In this episode it was It’s Not the Product, It’s the Person. It’s basically a repackaging of leadership author Simon Sinek’s mantra, “People don’t buy what you do, they why you do it.” Meaning, story is a thing, and if you want to crowdfund your great idea you need to be ready when opportunity knocks. If you’re having identity problems I encourage you to listen to this show.

Act One, entitled I Got 99 Problems and a Pitch is One, was produced by Alex Blumberg who, until recently hosted the NPR’s Planet Money, the podcast that focuses on economics and business. Like many a budding entrepreneur, Blumberg was looking for more meaning in his work. So he thought he’d take his love of podcasts and fill a vacuum he found both inside and outside public radio: He would be the go-to guy to create the kind of podcasts he loved to hear.

Blumberg was lucky; during one Planet Money podcast he’d interviewed professional investor Chris Sacca, the former Google employee whose initial investments happen to include . . . Twitter.

Here’s a sampling of how Chris Sacca talks:

The ideas that we back and the entrepreneurs we back, there’s so much conviction about the inevitability of success, it’s contagious. I mean, when I first sat down with Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram, and he started talking about why Instagram, and pitching me on why I should get involved there, I sat down with, in the back of my mind, look, photo-sharing has been done a bunch of times. I feel lucky to have already gotten some money back out of Photobucket before. Like, I might be the one guy who’s made money in photo-sharing, and there’s no way lightning’s going to strike twice.

But as you listen to him, you get the perception that he’s actually looking through you to some spot behind you that’s five years in the future. And he just knows the inevitability of the success of his platform. And by the end of the conversation, you’re like, please take my money. So what starts as this, like, all right, kid, what– whaddaya got? It’s just, like, wow, let me get on this thing. The train is leaving the station.

The guy oozes FOMO.

Finding Your FOMO Advantage

That Blumberg got a face time with Sacca was a big deal. He prepared his pitch deck, picked the nicest pair of shoes he could find in his closest—and proceeded to completely and utterly blow it.

Sacca kept throwing him left curves—told him his pitch deck was a crutch and that he needed to “tighten up his story.” In the end, Sacca actually gave Blumberg his own pitch back to him in under two minutes, brilliantly.

But he didn’t give Blumberg any money.

What’s YOUR Unfair Advantage?31cd828

Chris Sacca says a lot of wise things during Blumberg’s interview with him. But my favorite—and the one that I think might help entrepreneurs think about how to tell their story without actually thinking about it as telling their story—is when he asks Blumberg the question, What’s your unfair advantage?

That question hit me like a sledgehammer! Framing “story” as an “unfair advantage” is a brilliant way to appeal to the competitive, analytical mind of a hungry entrepreneur. It narrows the focus of the left-brainer, gets his thinking razor focused in a way that the notion of storytelling, as a broad, right-brain concept, never could.

But here’s the thing: Whether you think of your business arc as an exercise in telling your story or finding your unfair advantage, the idea is that this is your opportunity to zero in on what it is YOU know how to do better than anyone else, the thing that can blow the competition off the map.

How can you make sure you’re on the right track? Check in with yourself. Is your heart pumping? Are your eyes on fire? Do you feel energized and alive? If so, you will inspire FOMO.

This article originally appeared on my LinkedIn blog.

 

Crowdfunding Just Got Easier for Fashion Designers with BetaBrand

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BetaBrand is a San Francisco-based Internet clothing store—with a twist. The first twist is that their clothes tend to appeal the perpetually relaxed set, the type whose idea of dressing up is wearing a T-shirt with no holes.

Working from home, I can relate to that. Though I avoid video Skype sessions—I don’t have to even discuss it with the ladies but the men are sometimes clueless that we actually don’t have to see each other to talk—when I’m forced to switch to video mode it’s a safe bet I’ve thrown a presentable shirt over my PJs (or swim suit, as the season may dictate).

So with their “pinstripe executive hoodie,” “gluttony pants,” and “dress pants sweatpants”—check them out, they look like the pants Joaquin Phoenix wore in the film “Her”—they’ve had a devout following not only because of their aesthetics but also because of their business model.

They do all their designing and prototyping onsite, and it’s no big deal for them to mock up an idea and make the finished product before lights out that same day. That means out-the-door turnaround time is under two months.

Take that, Kickstarter!

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Which relates to the second twist: Last year they added a crowdfunding component to their site. Now not only in-house designers can see their inspirations worn by BetaBrand devotees but all you aspiring fashion designers can submit your creations and if they’re successfully funded you stand to earn as much as 10% of the profits.

Another benefit similar to the current crowdfunding model, those who buy-in early stand to save big when the item goes into production. The think tank component is where new ideas are presented to the crowd for voting. If the crowd loves your sweater tuxedo idea, for example, the product is turned over to the crowd—and BetaBrand turns it into a real product that you, I, and all our slacker, comfy-clothes-wearing friends can buy!

All you arm chair fashionistas can now get up and throw your hat into the ring. But don’t delay; the word is BetaBrand is hoping their model will attract celebrity clothing lines.

Take that, Target!

Need Help Developing and Designing Your Crowdfunding Idea?

Lately I’ve been telling just about everybody I know how shocked I am that no one has yet come up with a audio version of the digital video recorder (DVR).

Think about it: You’re driving in your car with the windows down listening to [insert your favorite radio show]. At exactly the moment someone delivers the line that will keep the thread to the story going, a truck whizzes by and you’ve missed it. There’s no way to turn back! No rewind button. On TV it’s so easy to recapture a moment, or fast forward through commercials. Why has someone not taken on this challenge?

I’m a girl with an idea but no design talent. If I knew how to make a digital audio recorder (I’ve already named my homeless DAR) I’d be crowdfunding for it faster than you could say….crowdfunding.

I have to believe there are others like me: people with good ideas who would love to jump into crowdfunding but lack the expertise outside our natural skill set to get the job done. Cardboard Helicopter  may be the helping hand you need to get that great idea out of your head and into 3-D prototype. I had a recent back and forth with CEO Tim Hayes about the firm’s work. Here are the highlights.Cardboard Helicopter clear background

As a product development and industrial design firm, why did you decide to expand into the crowdfunding space?

Well we’re a boutique-style design firm so we don’t have a lot of overhead to deal with. This allows us to be able to assist smaller businesses and inventors who might not be able to afford what the large product development firms charge. So it made sense to open up our services to inventors and the crowdfunding universe.

What are some of the pitfalls facing project creators does Cardboard Helicopter address?

There are many great ideas being developing through crowdfunding platforms, but the key is being able to communicate the concept in a simple, yet visually-appealing manner. We see a lot of failed projects that never really had a chance due to their unclear campaign pages or crude prototypes. We help provide the “wow” factor and give suggestions regarding ergonomics and usability, while being attentive to manufacturing requirements.

Besides working with folks who have a great idea for a product but no expertise, how do you see yourselves fitting into the pre-launch phase of a campaign?

One of our areas of expertise is taking an initial idea and transforming it into aesthetically-pleasing, user-focused designs. The industrial design process is very thoughtful and meticulous, and requires many iterations before the product is ready to be unveiled to the world. We’ve assisted many individuals that wish to use crowdfunding to help launch their product. We work closely with them every step of the way, from concept sketching to full 3D CAD (computer-aided design) and prototyping.

Do you work with project creators beyond pre-launch?

Presently, most of our time and energy goes into the development of products, as well as marketing our own in-house creations, so we currently don’t offer anything post-launch.

How does your company differ from other similar firms?

Our limitless imagination allows us to create amazing, innovative products. I think the older we get, a lot of us lose the ability to think without boundaries, much like a child would. Our entire company is based off of this idea. Also, as I stated earlier, our business model is built on efficiency and allows us to accommodate budgets that most other professional design firms can’t match. Instead of getting your project placed in a queue, and having one designer work on your idea over the course of months, we tackle each project as a team. Several designers and a marketing team work in unison to make sure all our client’s needs are met within a reasonable time frame.

Can we see a sample of your work?

This is a rendering of Latch, the clip-on speaker allows you to attach device to virtually any object, providing sound and backup power source where ever you go.Latch
What’s next for Cardboard Helicopter?

We are just a few weeks away from launching our first crowdfunding campaign, through Kickstarter. It is healthy-living device that will be made here in the US, and promotes the importance of using water and other natural ingredients. We’re very excited about it and are confident it will be successful! Once we go through the entire process, we’d love to share our experiences and provide advice for your followers.

 

 

How BNN Funding is Cracking the Code on Crowdfunding Marketing

As some of you may recall, I’ve written about BNN Funding previously. It’s a crowdfunding service created by founder Patrick Kitano, which he  says “acts like an investment bank.” BNN Funding helps set up the campaign, exposes it, markets it, and  builds advocates for it. In return they take a fee— comparable to other portals— only if the campaign is successful. And the value add is the leveraged social capital.

It’s a concept that sounds great but one that I felt needed a little test drive.

So after reading a LinkedIn post by The Breaking News Network (“BNN”) ‘s Patrick Kitano, in which he discusses the concept behind virality and how to activate it by leveraging his 400-city network’s Twitter feeds, I asked to be a guinea pig. The network sent out the following tweet across 300+ cities in the US and Canada promoting my LinkedIn post, So You want the Media to Notice You, soon afterwards, my Twitter handle @TCFrose was trending in the US, according to @TrendsmapUSA.

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To help readers get a clearer idea of how his viral marketing concept works, I posed these questions to Kitano.

Our little experiment was fun! Within the briefest period of time, my iPhone was going nuts with retweets of my article. Before I knew it I was a Trending Topic, according to @TrendingMapsUSA. When I checked back to my article, which previously had 350 “eyeballs” on it, the number had jumped to over 1700. What happened there?

This 1,400 increase is average for our blasts. It’s simply leveraging the power of 300 tweets from 300 of the BNN’s powerful city feeds (many of them are over 5 years old) broadcasting your excellent article about how to get media to notice you. The effect is comparable to other massive Twitter campaign systems like Thunderclap.it, which unleashes one tweet at one time across specific Twitter feeds.

What makes your system more efficient than Thunderclap?

The difference is with Thunderclap, you need to wait a few weeks and badger others to register to participate in the campaign. And badgering others is simply using up social capital. No matter what people say, it’s best to save your social capital for better things. The BNN can unleash a campaign instantly with a social reach of over 600,000, more than the average Thunderclap without expending any personal social capital. And it can do it daily if needed.

Most agree that marketing, as it’s done currently in the crowdfunding space, is lacking. Why?

In today’s crowdfunding environment, there is no marketing help for the entrepreneur. They must use all their social capital and plead with their contact list to support them. That’s the reason crowdfunding is so difficult. Once you use up your social capital, you can’t go back and ask again and again.

Can you describe a new way to crowdfund without using up that valuable personal social capital?

We fulfill two crowdfunding needs. One, crowdfunders need access to media to expose the campaign, and two, we provide access to advocate networks that can sell the campaign directly to their constituents. If you’re lucky, like the potato salad or the ice bucket campaign, you’ll get CNN to talk about you, but that’s relying on chance.

Back to our experiment. We all know it’s easy to tweet out articles—and there are data showing that most people who retweet don’t actually read the article. Though your experiment (gratefully) belied that stat in my case, if BNN tweeted out my crowdfunding campaign instead of just my article, do you think they would convert to backers?

Massive Twitter exposure certainly does not guarantee conversions. But massive exposure does bring advocates to the table because they are exposed to the campaign and share its values.

Can you explain how?

Everybody who reads your column, Rose, knows that getting advocates on board, people who will promote your campaign, is critical. Really, we’re talking about leveraging other people’s social capital. So how do we get advocates on board without constantly pinging them like most crowdfunders do? We create a quid pro quo relationship by offering advocates a way to publicize their message.

The BNN not only can expose campaigns massively but it “gives back” social capital to the community by giving a media voice to over 7,000 community newsmakers across 400 cities. These newsmakers are civic groups, nonprofits, foundations and arts organizations that serve their communities. For any crowdfunding campaign, we can give voice to any advocates aligned with the campaign mission to support the campaign. When done across 400 cities, it builds an advocate network that drops the campaign message down to the community level where word of mouth, and conversions, happen.

I watched the Infinity Boxes campaign that BNN Funding produced. What makes Infinity Box a break-out campaign for BNN?

The Infinity Boxes is a unique social art exhibit that is like a carnival hall of mirrors in a box. The campaign creator launched on the zero-fee Open Tilt platform and we reached our goal of over $20,000 to support the Boxes’ national 2014 tour, and more than half of the backing came from museums.

Why is this significant?

What makes this campaign unique is the artist and the museums collaboratively crowdfunded to bring the exhibit to the museums. Why? Both the artist and museums want to make the exhibition successful, and crowdfunding markets the exhibition and fundraises the curatorial costs at the same time. The artist leverages the social capital of the museums.

Can this campaign be used as a model for future projects with which BNN partners?

The master plan is to continue to crowdfund with different museums every 3-6 months to continue the tour through 2015-2016. Over 300 museums across America use the BNN city feeds for their community news and events—that’s our advocate network for artists. Developing serial campaigns that leverage different partners’ social capital is going to be a game changer, and it requires fundraisers to see crowdfunding as a long-term embedded strategy as opposed to a “one and done” deal.

Is it a template others can use?

As far as I know, The Breaking News Network is unique among news media networks to support crowdfunding campaigns for social good across 400 cities nationally or globally. One reason is all news networks are tied down to an advertising revenue model and can’t afford to support campaigns for social good without compensation. On the day we launched in 2009, I stated BNN will never have an ad model.

What kind of campaigns are appropriate for BNN Funding?

There are two criteria that we look for in a campaign:

1) The product or service has social impact or serves the community good. It can be local or national.
2) The project creator can bring advocates to support the campaign. For example, a campaign funding the investigative reporting of GMO and pesticides is naturally supported by environmental and civic groups who need this word to get out. We provide advocates social capital to get their word out and leverage our existing advocate network of over 7,000 organizations.

National nonprofits and social enterprises with a network of local chapters or affiliates work well across our 400-city marketing system. We simply amplify every local chapter and their advocates so they can market the campaign at the community level where conversion can happen. We can also develop localized campaigns to start up new chapters.

Our system is pretty unique and customized to the campaign. We always discover new ways of leveraging the media network and advocacy, so it’s best to talk with us to see if we can apply our marketing methodology.

What’s next for BNN Funding?

We’re now in scale-up mode and working with project creators to support their campaigns.

I think one of the unique opportunities for any organization or entrepreneur with a cause is timing campaigns to breaking news events. Sudden events like the Napa Earthquake or the turmoil in Ferguson can spur a nation of backers to act. Millions of dollars can potentially be raised through crowdfunding. BNN Funding has the national marketing infrastructure to expose campaigns instantly so we can launch a campaign in a matter of hours after an event happens. For example, a foundation researching the ebola virus should crowdfund now to expose their efforts to a world that’s getting anxious about a possible pandemic. I don’t see these campaigns happening instantly yet, but it will happen. The Wall Street analogy to this kind of timed campaign is program trading in which traders instantly trade based on breaking business news.

To learn more about BNN Funding, contact Kitano at pkitano@gmail.com

What We Talk About When We Talk about Tone

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I recently got an email request by a woman asking me to consider writing about her campaign. Even though I don’t write about campaigns per se, I will break my own rule if there’s a teachable moment I can share with readers.

Today’s that kinda day.

Why? Because her campaign gets to the heart of what’s missing in so many campaigns I see: the disconnect between the project/idea/product itself and the tone the project creator uses to get her message across.

Which goes back, of course, to the Realm of Story, a land in which regular readers of mine know that I have pretty much parked myself, with the intention of heightening your awareness to the value and importance of consistency of message throughout your crowdfunding page. Yes, I think it’s that important. And this campaign does such a bang-up job of that I just had to show it to you.

I’ll set the scene

Lindsey Laurain is the founder of EZPZ and  Less Mess Happy Mat is “an integrated placemat and plate that suctions to the table.” It is made out of the highest quality silicone, she says, “and is safe for kids’ growing bodies.” Here’s the top of her campaign page.

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There’s more:

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But here’s the best part: the pitch video! Pay attention and learn.

I don’t have kids but I’d want to buy these for mine if I had them because Lindsey has my whole and complete trust. Everything about her message is consistent: She’s a crazed but happy mom who developed something to make her life less crazed—so she can  stay happy.

Am I saying that you have to contort yourself and try and be something you’re not? Absolutely, no I am not. But whatever personality type you are you have to create a campaign persona that is consistent with your message. If Lindsey couldn’t pull the happy but crazed mom herself she would have needed to find another way to get that message across.

Tone matters. Message matters. Words and actions matter. Don’t phone it in. But most of all, be consistent and be yourself.

P.S. I want to note that this critique is not addressing whether she has the chance to reach her goal or not; it’s simply a discussion on the artfulness of her campaign. Lindsey told me she started her outreach late—something she realizes now was a mistake—and her goal is high. I hope she makes it because the product looks really amazing!