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Education: the secret to crowdfunding success
“For the majority of the U.S. population,” says the homepage for Crowdfund Better, “using crowdfunding to raise capital for a small business is little known or understood. Most assume that crowdfunding can only be used to raise money for personal causes or nonprofit organizations.” Indeed, a 2015 survey found that only 2% of small businesses had used crowdfunding, by which respondents mostly meant donation crowdfunding. My own experience is that even today, when you mention crowdfunding to a small business audience, almost everyone assumes you mean charitable giving. Very few businesses have considered even the possibility of raising capital through crowdfunding – and haven’t a clue how they could benefit from it.
This week’s lead story is from Crowdfund Better, a team of smart people committed to educating small businesses, step by step, at how to succeed at investment crowdfunding. Started by Kathleen Minogue, herself a seasoned entrepreneur, Crowdfund Better has launched the Crowdfund Better Certified Advisor™ program, which “will empower small business advisors with the tools, training and support they need to help their clients expand their access-to-capital options via crowdfunding. The program will also help entrepreneurs identify advisors who have the knowledge and skills to help them navigate crowdfunding.”
If you want some quick answers about crowdfunding and local investment, I recently produced a series of short videos (5-15 minutes each), addressing the most common questions asked by investors, businesses, and policymakers. I also interviewed a half-dozen Baltimore-based entrepreneurs who have successfully used crowdfunding, thanks to the Maryland Neighborhood Exchange. Scroll down and watch a couple of videos – they’re free! And if you like them, please share with friends and colleagues.
Also in this issue are a bunch of other interesting stories: about two new community solar projects meeting the electricity needs of 1,500 rural households in Hawaii; about the Boston Farms Community Land Trust, which is converting vacant land into urban farms in the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan; and about the efforts of the 260 employees of Colorado Mushroom Farm – many Guatemalan immigrants – to transform the remains of the business (it recently declared bankruptcy) into a worker-owned cooperative.
Finally, a reminder that you are not only readers but reporters. If you see anything in your community (or inbox) relating to local investing, please send it to our intrepid editor Sophia Leswing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Michael Shuman, Publisher, The Main Street Journal
Who Can Unlock Crowdfunding Capital For Small Business?, Crowdfund Better (January 2023)
Hawaii’s First Two Community-Owned And Designed Solar Projects Coming To Molokai, Renewable Energy Magazine (January 13)
Boston Farms Creates Community Wealth, Fosters Food Enterprises Through Shared Land, The Kresge Foundation (January 10)
Uprooted Colorado Mushroom Megafarm Workers Mull Possible Ownership Remedy, The Denver Post (January 18)
New Bipartisan Employee Ownership Legislation In Washington State, Ownership America (January 10)
Reimagining Economics For A Thriving World, Schumacher Center for a New Economics (January 19)
Major Changes Coming For CDFIs, Shelterforce (January 12)
The Three Cs of 2023, Revalue (January 2023)
Workers To Owners: Recent Co-op Conversions Power A Worker-Owned Economy, Cutting Edge Capital (January 23)
Employee Ownership Equity Summit – In-Person Conference (Oakland, California). February 7-9, 2023. How can you unlock the power of this “best kept secret” for business transactions, strong local economies and equitable economic development? Find out by joining Project Equity, peers from your region and across the nation in a two-and-a-half-day action-packed, practical meeting of the minds.
Connecting Capital To Neighborhoods That Don’t Normally Get It – In-Person Conference (Jackson, Mississippi). April 24-26, 2023. Jackson, with its 80% Black population, in the poorest state in the nation, provides a clear example of the racial wealth gap. The tools that Neighborhood Economics is identifying can be deployed in Mississippi to repair the damage caused by the connection between race and poverty. This event will bring together investors, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, problem-solvers, and people of faith in a city that needs them all.
11th International Public Markets Conference – In-Person Conference (Toronto, Canada). June 8-10, 2023. For over 35 years, the International Public Markets Conference has brought together visionary market managers, community advocates, and civic leaders to explore the changing forces that are shaping public markets today.
Total Impact Summit 2023: Investing for People, Planet, and Place – In-Person Conference (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). May 1-2, 2023. A two-day, dynamic event for individual investors, family offices, foundations, fund managers, and financial advisors to connect with aligned peers and partners, learn about proven and new investment tools, meet leaders of investable opportunities, and move toward action and investment. See FAQ here.
How to Convert Your Business Into A Co-Op, Workest (January 14)
HPD Selects Plans And Partners For 238-Unit Wellness And Healing-Focused Affordable Housing Development, Real Estate Weekly (Real Estate Weekly)
The Grassroots Fight For Housing Justice In Baltimore, YES! Magazine (December 27)
Why State And Local Relationships Matter To National Prosperity, Brookings Institution (January 2023)
LIFT Economy is hiring a Next Egg Community Manager.
Fair Food Network is hiring a Director of Double Up Food Bucks Michigan.
Mission Driven Finance is hiring multiple positions.
LOCAL INVESTMENT WORKSHOPS
Interested in mobilizing your friends and neighbors to invest locally? For the past two years, we have led workshops called “Local Investment 101” for groups of 50-100 students in Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State. Students get access to 15 videos that introduce local investment concepts, and then come together weekly online for four 90-minute sessions. If you’re interested in sponsoring a workshop in your region – or would just like to watch the videos on your own – please check out the details here or email Jen Risley at email@example.com
FREE SHORT VIDEOS ON LOCAL INVESTMENT
If you don’t have time for a full-on workshop, you can get a “taste” of the answers to your most pressing questions about local investment. We have prepared a series of short (5-15 minute videos) and posted them on YouTube. Feel free to watch and share with others.
To learn more about local economies generally:
To learn more about the basics of local investment:
To learn more about crowdfunding:
To learn more about investment law:
To learn more about how your business can raise capital:
To learn more about how to organize local investors:
To learn about the experiences of Baltimore-based companies with investment crowdfunding:
BECOME A MAIN STREET CHAMPION
Have you always wanted to start a local investment club? A website of local investment offerings in your community? A local investment study group? Whatever your interest or ambition, we invite you to “go public” to help others in your region find you, scheme with you, and start a local investment movement in your community. Our goal is to identify dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of Main Street Champions like you across America. We already have Main Street Champions across the U.S., from San Luis Obispo, CA to Providence, RI, and even Australia! Together, we can move our hard-earned savings from Wall Street back into our communities. Fill out the intake survey below to join this growing cohort!
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About The Main Street Journal
The Main Street Journal aims to catalyze the movement of $50 trillion from Wall Street to Main Street to facilitate economic development and economic justice. It’s sponsored by the National Coalition for Community Capital, with a grant from the Heron Foundation. We welcome feedback about everything, from our design to content. And we welcome suggestions of other groups to involve as partners, and other information to include. Please send ideas to Sophia Leswing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome any nonprofit or for-profit committed to local investment as a partner. If your organization is interested, please contact Sophia Leswing at email@example.com.