Crowdfunding: Truffle Tots For Charity
Cincinnati Nomerati had me at truffle tots. Great people, a good cause. Great food and a good time.
Food blogger Laura Arnold and her husband David are the forces behind The Golden Lawnchair, a “pop-up restaurant” event November 18 to benefit the Freestore Foodbank. Chef/owner Josh Campbell will close Mayberry’s on Main Street to regular traffic that night to host 50 people for a benefit dinner with superb cuisine. That the event reached its goal in a couple of days is not surprising. How that happened: An emerging, innovative approach to fundraising – crowdfunding.
Laura used the Indiegogo platform to raise $2,000 quickly. Every dollar counts as the food bank approaches a time of year of great need. The site also was a convenient device to track attendance, donations and provide real-time recognition for funders.
“Cincinnati is a great city to throw an event like this,” Arnold said. “Josh’s willingness to try something new, the support of my friends and social network, and the many generous donations from local businesses and vendors has been astounding.
I think this idea is appealing to so many partly because if the spontaneity of it. Opening a new restaurant for one night only with a new menu is a really fun concept. And for a great cause like the Foodbank? Well, that’s just a perfect storm.”
Crowdfunding has been getting traction among entrepreneurs, evidenced by the success and national acclaim of Cincinnatian Candace Klein’s SoMoLend project. The strategy provides an alternative to raising capital through traditional venture streams, bank loans or rich uncles. SoMoLend’s tagline: “Let’s Build Businesses Together” defines crowdfunding well.
Crowdfunding comes from friends, family or anyone who believes in the dream. Every dollar is personal. In return,contributors often are invited to click on perks. The Golden Lawnchair campaign offered two tickets to the five-course meal and after party. For $100, a limoncella lesson at Nicola’s. The prices go up, deservedly, for a $200 private lesson with iconic mixologist Molly Wellman and $250 for a pizza-making class at A Tavoli. But contributors also can pitch in $5, $10 or $25 for levels of thanks and recognition. (Some of the perks may still be available as you read this. The funds will continue to go to the cause even though the seats are sold out except for two available by auction).
This is classic neighborhood-based collection action – friends supporting friends, businesses supporting businesses, all to support the Freestore Foodbank.
“We got involved because we are all about helping people out anyway we can,” Campbell said. “We try not to limit what Mayberry is about and enjoy working with the community and helping it become a better place.”
If the project drives awareness about his and other businesses involved, it’s simply a win-win for all.
The concept for Indiegogo came to founder Danae Ringelmann when she was an analyst in New York. She was invited to an event, “Where Hollywood Meets Wall Street.”
In a recent Q/A with SFGate.com, Ringelman talked about what happened and resulted in Indiegogo’s 2008 launch:
“It was not at all what I expected. Instead of celebrities, it was a sea of emerging artists, writers, filmmakers and theater producers who were all hoping to meet their next angel.
“But it didn’t hit me until two days later. I received this script and a note saying, “I look forward to you financing my next film.” It was at that moment that my heart sank. I realized that I didn’t have any money to finance him and the only reason he was asking was because I was his connection to money. I realized the system was broken.
“We (Ringelmann and her co-founder, Eric Schell and Slava Rubin) were frustrated with the inequity with fundraising and finance. The reason people were successful was a little out of their control. It was about who they knew, if they had a rich uncle, a trust fund or a connection at a bank. It was not based on their work ethic, their brilliance or the responsiveness of the community.
She termed it “democratized fundraising”. Love the concept and it appears many others do, too. At any given time, there are 6,000 campaigns live. Some work, some don’t. But it’s a small investment of time with a shot at quick returns.
The Golden Lawnchair hit its mark with a mix of energy, ideas and good people joining for a cause.
Toss in a few truffle tots and it’s a recipe for success.