Funders and social investment funds often provide capital to enterprises after they have achieved proof of concept. This means that entrepreneurs can struggle to attain pre-revenue seed funding for their ventures. Below are some resources that will help in this search:
StartSomeGood empowers people from around the world to become social innovators. StartSomeGood provides social entrepreneurs with a platform to raise start-up funds and build a community of supporters — all in a fun, engaging and community-driven way. Their site taps into the power of the crowd, allowing social entrepreneurs to ask for small amounts of money from supporters from around the world, and gives them the tools to update their supporters, provide unique rewards in exchange for support and run multiple campaigns over time. StartSomeGood allows all forms of social good initiatives, nonprofit and for-profit, one-off and ongoing, local and international, to raise support. Campaigns have both a total fundraising goal and a “tipping point” goal — the amount needed to start doing good. Campaigns can run for 7-60 days but must reach the tipping point before the deadline or none of the pledges are run and no money changes hands. StartSomeGood has supported social innovators as young as 16, and as accomplished as Ashoka and Echoing Green fellows.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields. Average project raises under $10,000, but Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing campaign platform. You must be a U.S. resident and at least 18 years of age to launch a campaign, and Kickstarter cannot be used to fund for charity projects or causes (only creative projects).
Indiegogo is is a crowdfunding platform where people who want to raise money can create fundraising campaigns to tell their story and get the word out. Anyone who has a valid bank account can launch an Indiegogo campaign, except those from countries on the U.S. OFAC sanctions list.
Facebook Causes is the world’s largest platform for activism and philanthropy. We empower individuals to create grassroots communities called “causes” that take action on behalf of a specific issue or nonprofit organization. Since our founding in 2007, Causes has brought together:
- 170 million Causes members
- $40 million raised for 27,000 nonprofits
- 500,000 member-created causes
Other Seed Funding Opportunities
DoSomething.org gives $500 every week to youth-led community ventures or projects. DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US for teens and social change.
Ashoka Youth Venture enables young people to learn early on in life that they can lead social change. Ashoka developed the concept of Youth Venture from understanding a key insight of Ashoka Fellows in the field of youth development: one of the most effective ways to improve the lives of youth is to empower them to realize their own ability to make positive social change. Youth Venture seeks to create impact by transforming:
- The youth participant, through the enabling experience of starting a social venture
- The youth team, as they learn important life skills and realize that they can create change
- The community, as growing numbers of Youth Venture teams “tip” the local culture toward greater youth leadership
- Society at large, by fundamentally redefining the role of young people as leaders of social change
Ashoka Changemakers provides the tools and resources to empower everyone to contribute to a better world. Their mission is to grow new ideas through transparency and collaboration, a process of Open Growth. Showcase your venture on changeshops and connect to funders.
CGI U Outstanding Commitment Awards, made possible by Walmart, are grants given to exceptional student Commitments to Action aimed at improving communities and lives around the world. All currently-enrolled students (both undergraduate and graduate) are eligible to receive these awards
Start Something That Matters funds is a catalyst for others as they try and make a positive impact in the world; funded by 50% of the proceeds of Blake Mycoskie’s new book (Founder of TOMS shoes).
Village Capital uses the power of peer support to build enterprises that change the world. Inspired by the concept of the “village bank” in microfinance and peer support groups such as YPO and EO, Village Capital puts the hard tasks of building companies–criticism, strategy, feedback, and legwork–in the hands of entrepreneurs themselves. Village Capital organizes cohorts worldwide and runs education programs focused on intensive peer review. In the past two years, Village Capital launched ten programs worldwide, supporting over 150 entrepreneurs. Participants have raised $10 million, created over 500 jobs, and served 5,000 customers. VC has partnered with Dasra in India, Hub Ventures in the Bay Area, the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, Artemisia in Brazil, Hub Venture Labs in London, and Idea Village in New Orleans.
Unltd is a UK-based charity which supports social entrepreneurs by providing a complete package of funding and support, to help these individuals make their ideas a reality. UnLtd’s Millennium Awards provide practical and financial support to social entrepreneurs in the UK. UnLtd currently offers two levels of award:
- Level 1: Awards of between £500 and £5,000 (expected average of £2,000) to help new ideas become real projects. UnLtd gives out 1,000 Level 1 Awards each year across the UK. Level 1 Awards are aimed at individuals or informal groups of people who have an idea and want help getting it off the ground. The money is to help with the running costs of the project.
- Level 2: Awards of up to £15,000 to support people whose ideas are already developed or pay for the living expenses of Award Winners to help them devote more time to their projects. These Awards are given out once in the spring and once in the autumn.
Unltd India finds, funds and supports exceptional individuals whose ideas, passion and entrepreneurial skills can bring about long-term solutions to India’s social problems.
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK Foundation) partners with entrepreneurs to build strong and capable organizations. The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation provides $300,000 in startup funding, paid over 3 years, to organizations that show extraordinary promise. DRK Foundation funds:
- Organizations by providing unrestricted dollars.
- Organizations at the beginning of their development. On average, organizations are 0-3 years old and the entrepreneur is prepared to execute an ambitious plan. Often there is a pilot operating, but not in all cases.
- Organizations based in the United States only.
- Organizations that are national or global in reach and social issue.
Mulago Foundation is a private foundation designed and built to carry on the life work of Rainer Arnhold. Rainer’s passion was the prospect of a better life for children in poverty, and so the Foundation’s work is focused on health, poverty, and conservation in the world’s poorest places. Mulago provides unrestricted funding but do not accept proposals (organizations are instead invited to apply).
Echoing Green’s premier program is its highly competitive global Fellowship, which provides more than $2 million in seed support to a diverse group of emerging social entrepreneurs every year. From thousands of applicants, typically fewer than one percent are ultimately selected to receive up to $90,000 over two years to support the launch of their new organizations.
Presumed Abundance provides startup capital for companies. Instead of buying equity for themselves, the equity PA purchases goes directly into their angel fund. Upon a liquidity event (merger/acquisition or IPO), the equity they purchased becomes available as seed stage capital for new social enterprises. The twist? You are now their angel partner, with an equal voice in determining where to invest that money.
DC Social Innovation Project identifies and invests in creative new ideas tackling pressing social issues in Washington, D.C. In the Bright Idea Challenge, 18-35 year olds submit proposals for social ventures that tackle a pressing social issue in Washington, DC. The two most promising ventures will share a prize package of more than $50,000 in funding, services, and resources.
P@SHA Fund for Social Innovation provides seed grants to social innovators in Pakistan. Each round provides awards to 25 social innovators in the country.
Accion Venture Lab is an investment initiative launching this year that will provide patient seed capital and management support to innovative financial inclusion startups, fostering experimentation and promoting business models that improve financial access for people at the base of the pyramid.
Frontier Investments’ vision is to bridge the gap between purely philanthropic and for-profit investing. By drawing on best practices in both arenas, Frontier Investments works to generate balanced financial returns and high-impact social gains. To accomplish this vision, Frontier Investments leverages Accion’s five decades of experience in emerging markets – including feet-on-the-ground and institutional relationships in four continents and a deep bench of operational and product specialists working in emerging market enterprises that serve the poor. Frontier Investments draws on this sector- and market-specific domain expertise as well as its financial resources to catalyze the growth of its portfolio companies.
See institutional investors section under “The Investor” for additional funding opportunities.
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