Crowdfunding and First Nations entrepreneurs

Crowdfunding and First Nations entrepreneurs

As the co-founder and CEO of Giveffect, I work closely with charities and corporations across Canada as they decide to embark on crowdfunding journeys. As much as this is an exciting time for my clients and me, it is also an equally daunting time.

You see, often when a charity decides to launch a crowdfunding project, its staff think the heavy-lifting work is over once they find the right platform to launch their intended campaign.

Wrong. That’s just when the work begins.

Ever see one of those flashy music videos where singers are standing around while wads of money fall from the sky? Well, crowdfunding isn’t like that.

I often tell my clients that they can’t expect the money to pour in simply because they launched a campaign. Rather, they have to convince people why they should Giveffect about their cause.

This is why crowdfunding can be an extremely vulnerable act. Unlike applying for government funding, where only you and your team must face the rejection of not receiving a grant, crowdfunding makes your rejection public. It is a drastic paradigm shift from the traditional fundraising approach that most of my clients are comfortable with. The charity is required to open itself up to the world and to let everyone in on both their successes and their failures.

Having said that, crowdfunding is an extremely powerful tool for any charity and it is a promising solution to the staggering donor engagement crisis. In crowdfunding, everyone has a role to play. For charities, crowdfunding switches the project from being charity-centric to being a collective community initiative where everyone feels as though they are equal stakeholders in making success happen. Crowdfunding also changes the perception of the donor, transforming him or her from being seen as a mere wallet to being seen as an advocate for the cause or an extension of the charity.

What I genuinely love about crowdfunding is that it isn’t about asking people for money. Rather, crowdfunding is an opportunity, an invitation that allows someone to take part in an awesome journey to achieve something radical. It’s exhilarating, it’s empowering and—most importantly—it works!

Though we come across hundreds of crowdfunding campaigns on our platform, there are always those that stand out and inspire us. These are the causes that remind us why we started Giveffect in the first place: to inspire social good. Naturally, we can’t help but get involved when we come across such initiatives.

Such was the case when Classroom Connections decided to launch the MentorNation crowdfunding campaign on Giveffect.

Classroom Connections is introducing the first-ever online mentor-matching platform for First Nations entrepreneurs in Canada. MentorNation will connect aspiring Aboriginal entrepreneurs with crucial mentor support, increasing startup success and, as a result, economic prosperity in reserves across the country.

To raise the funds that will make this project a reality, Classroom Connections has launched its first-ever crowdfunding campaign on Giveffect. MentorNation has a goal to raise $200,000 by December 18, 2013.

The need for entrepreneurs has never been greater, in both developing and developed countries. When given the right conditions to flourish, entrepreneurs are the foundation of growth, prosperity and even innovation. They bring fresh thinking to the marketplace and fuel the creative destruction that makes market economies prosper. And that holds equally true for Aboriginal entrepreneurs.

Studies show that up to 90% of new jobs come from companies that are five years old or less. But, as every entrepreneur knows, having a supportive mentor is critical for taking your business to the next level. In my personal journey as an entrepreneur, mentorship has played a key role in helping me navigate through the unique challenges of startup life.

Entrepreneur No. 1: Angie and Clint Roan with their new Atoskewin Transport van (providing reliable rides to off-reserve job sites).

That’s why my team and I passionately support the MentorNation project. Like crowdfunding, the MentorNation campaign is not about charity or about donating money to a problem. It’s about opportunity and empowerment. MentorNation is creating the conditions required to allow Aboriginal entrepreneurs to become their own solution to the intractable economic crisis that has plagued their communities.

It is no wonder that this campaign has received national attention and official endorsement from leaders like Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo and Don Tapscott. At the corporate level, RBC Canada is matching up to $25,000 in donations made to the MentorNation campaign on Giveffect.

Having said that, this campaign cannot succeed without all hands on deck. It will take the collective community—people like you and me—to achieve this lofty goal. So today I’d like to invite you to join us on this journey and to help us give hope to people that need a reason to believe again. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur No. 2: Bev Dion-Potts in her used furniture store location with Heather MacTaggart, executive director of Classroom Connections.

To view the MentorNation crowdfunding campaign, please visit: