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A Hyper-Local Crowdfunding Site For Nonprofits

posted May 29, 2013, 4:04 PM by   [ updated Jun 5, 2013, 9:12 AM ]
Crowdfunding meets hyper-local meets nonprofits.
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(Location in Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That basically describes a new site called The Money Crowd. Founded by Kostas Stoilas, a commercial real estate broker at Cushman & Wakefield, late last year , it’s aimed at helping nonprofits and community organizations in the Tampa Bay area that need money for projects. (It’s also open to schools that might need funding thanks to budget cuts). The Money Crowd is a for-profit enterprise and  charges a fee to the groups that appear on the site.

The first group to appear on The Money Crowd was the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter; Stoilas is on the organization’s leadership council.The first project, which went live in June, was a recognition event for “bigs” and “littles” who have been working together for five years or more. Whoever donates also gets a ticket to the event. So far, the amount raised, $450, isn’t overwhelming. But the event probably won’t be until next year, so there’s time left.

Second project: an event to benefit the Special Olympics to be held in downtown Tampa. The third is aimed at helping a new St. Petersburg group, Hannah’s Homeless, that provides services to the local homeless population.

Stoilas’ task now, of course, is to start building a critical mass of groups to appear on the site and creating awareness among likely donors. Organizations are supposed to help with marketing. (New rules about crowdfunding won’t impact the site, since The Money Crowd is all about donations). He’s working with a local consultant, Robin Weston, to help build the site.

Stoilas got the idea while he was finishing up his MBA at the University of Tampa last year. He learned about microfunding and, as he watched donations to charities dry up thanks to the economic downturn, that got him thinking about crowdfunding. If Kickstarter could work on a national level, why not create a site for local nonprofits looking for creative ways to raise money?

This isn’t the only local crowdfunding site out there.  CommunityFunded, for example, focuses on community projects in the Fort Collins, Col., area. Lucky Ant lets people know about local businesses looking for funding. Niche sites aimed at everything from paying tuition to medical bills are also springing up. And there’s a new site called Citizinvestor through which city governments can raise money for local projects. Tree Philly, for example, is trying to plant 15,000 trees in Philadelphia by the end of 2012.

Stoilas, who is running the site in his spare time, looks on the effort as an experiment. “People are trying out all sorts of concepts right now,” he says. Maybe this one will have legs.

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