How one Connecticut company raised $10,000 for their Social Enterprise Investment Fund
reSET is a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote, preserve, and protect social enterprise. Ojala Naeem and James Woulfe are just two of the many people at reSET who contributed to making this StartSomeGood campaign a success. Learn more below about how Ojala, James, and team were able to raise $10,000 to start the Social Enterprise Investment Fund and lend much needed funds to promising social enterprises:
How was your crowdfunding experience? Were there any nervous moments along the way?
James: Our crowdfunding experience was a very positive one. We launched our campaign to tap into the unique audience that crowdfunding could provide us with, and they really delivered. Over 50% of the supporters for our campaign were individuals we’d never formally interacted with. Nervous moment? There were some nervous moments about halfway through the campaign. We felt like we might have reached a wall, but we pivoted, and made more one-on-one personal appeals, and that definitely boosted the number of donations we started receiving.
Ojala: I agree with James, I think it was a very positive experience. I also think it was a HUGE learning experience. We went into this knowing it would require a lot of time and effort from our end, but I don’t think we realized how much we could learn – about how crowdfunding works, what our supporters are looking for, what types of outreach are most effective, and how best to get our message across.
What kind of preparation is involved in putting together a crowdfunding campaign? What was your strategy for spreading the word?
James: As far as legwork, we did a significant amount of tweeting, mass e-mails, and personal e-mail appeals to people in our network, in addition to leveraging the networks of some of our state and local allies for outreach. We worked hard to keep our messaging consistent, without overwhelming our network.
Ojala: We tried to plan out our strategy well in advance – before we even began filling out the information on StartSomeGood’s website. We first thought about what resources we had available – our network, our partners, social media, etc. Then we came up with a solid plan on what types of messaging we would send across to spread the word.
If you could start your campaign all over again, would you do anything differently?
James: We had a limited amount of time we could devote to our crowdfunding campaign due to some of our other responsibilities. If we could do it again, I think we would have really dug deep and tapped into the various state and national networks we have access to, which would have been more time-intensive to develop.
Ojala: I would work on sending more clear updates, and do prior research on how to reach individuals outside of our existing networks. Ideally, I’d love to see more supporters engage in the campaign from outside of Connecticut.
What do you think were the main factors that contributed to your success? Do you have any special tips for would-be crowdfunders?
James: The key factors that contributed to our success were our consistent messaging and personal appeals. People want to contribute to a cause that resonates with them; they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. For our first attempt at crowdfunding, I think we did a pretty good job with that.
Ojala: Tip—don’t do this alone. James and I were able to do a lot of the preparation for this campaign, but we could not have gotten so far without the help of the entire reSET staff and supporters. Make sure you have a couple of people that are willing to help you with reaching out about your campaign-–it’s the most vital part of crowdfunding.
What’s next for you and your organization, and how can followers say in touch?
Ojala: We’ve got a very busy, but exciting few months ahead of us! Watching the social enterprise community strengthen and grow is one of the most rewarding parts of our job, and supporting a network of dedicated and inspiring social enterprises is what we are all about! Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign and support from our network, the Social Enterprise Investment Fund is officially up and running and we will be accepting applications from entrepreneurs shortly. We’re also working hard to make Connecticut the 20th state in the nation to pass benefit corporation legislation, which we think will really jump-start our state’s social enterprise sector. Finally, we’ll be busy supporting entrepreneurs at our Community Space through our various programs and services to help more and more social enterprises launch, scale, and create positive impact in their communities.
Karen Pace, Peacebar—one of the many entrepreneurs reSET will be able to help get off the ground with the Social Enterprise Investment Fund!
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out:
Ojala Naeem, Incubator and IT Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Woulfe, Public Policy and Impact Investing Specialist, Jwoulfe@socialenterprisetrust.org
Inspired by Ojala and James’ story? What good do you want to create? Visit our site to learn about how to start your own campaign.