Skoll Foundation


What will Crowdfunding Look Like in 2014? The Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge Raises the Bar

January 2, 2014 by

In recent years, crowdfunding models of the type that support a new product—like a prototype for a cool new watch, or a friend’s idea for a new genre of art, or an important cause, like a marathon runner’s mission to run in honor of a family member or friend—have swept the social change landscape.

With the successful close of the Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge, we saw crowdfunding embracing the age of the social entrepreneur. The Challenge raised $2.4 million—double the amount of any other Skoll Foundation crowdfunding campaign. Of the organizations participating, an average of $37,804 was raised. That’s more than three times the average raised by a charity participating in a CrowdRise Challenge.

Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge organizations are recipients of the “Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.” Working on the frontlines, social entrepreneurs fight disease, poverty, and injustice with their innovative approaches, proving that: health care, education, and basic needs can be delivered efficiently and equitably; that sustainability trumps depletion; and that large-scale impact is possible. Learn more about the winners here.

Embracing unique incentive structures, social media tools, and e-marketing strategies mimicking the most successful online retailers, CrowdRise Challenges like these have seen phenomenal leverage in turning seed money into an impact many times greater than even the best dollar-for-dollar matching campaigns. Skoll’s $250,000 prize money was leveraged 9:1 in the latest Challenge. Leverage and scale is not only important for enacting a socially disruptive idea, it’s also a growing way to drive financial support for those ideas.

The Challenge was the third time the Skoll Foundation, in partnership with The Huffington Post and CrowdRise, used crowdfunding to support social issues. In March, the Skoll Foundation and The Huffington Post committed $250,000 in prize donations for the “JobRaising Challenge”, which generated more than $1.2 million in donations for domestic job-creating nonprofits. In June, the Foundation and Huffington Post committed $75,000 in prize donations for “The RaiseForWomen Challenge”, which raised more than $1 million in donations for women’s causes.Other statistics from the latest Challenge:

  • Number of online Donations: 6,459
  • Donations $500 and under: 93 percent
  • Donations $100 and under: 80 percent

The Skoll Foundation offered grand prizes to the top fundraising charities, as well as an equitably-divided match that benefited all participating organizations.

“We are thankful and thrilled that this Challenge blew past our goal,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “It gave individual donors the opportunity to support high-impact Skoll social entrepreneurs around the world through a healthy dose of competition that rewarded all participants. One of the unique elements of the Skoll Challenge was its deep sense of community, with all of the organizations working together to reach a $2 million stretch goal to unlock the full $1 million Skoll match. Small and big, every gift counted.”

“HuffPost was thrilled to partner with the Skoll Foundation and CrowdRise to empower these remarkable social entrepreneurs,” said Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group. “We saw unprecedented engagement with entrepreneurs sharing their powerful stories of change on our platform, resulting in over $2.4 million to scale the impact of these organizations around the world. We’re thrilled that we’ve raised over $6 million for charity with this partnership overall and look forward to future collaboration in 2014.”

“The idea of people taking real action to support an idea and a mission in such a meaningful way is really at the core of crowdfunding,” said CrowdRise CEO and cofounder Robert Wolfe. “And, it’s just so, so cool that Skoll delivered a kick-ass campaign to their social entrepreneurs that served as a catalyst to fundraising, exposure, and a new way of thinking about their own organizations. We’re just psyched to have played a small role in it all.”

When the organizations raised $500,000, the Skoll Foundation contributed $250,000 to all participating organizations equally. Originally, there were $750,000 in matching funds to be shared equally, but because of the social entrepreneurs’ exceptional crowdfunding when they surpassed $1.5 million, the Skoll Foundation offered another $250,000 matching grant, which was awarded to the organizations when they raised $2 million.

The Skoll Foundation offered other incentives that made this campaign unique, like an all-expenses paid trip, where a social entrepreneur could win a trip to visit any other social entrepreneur anywhere in the world.

Eighty percent of the organizations won a HuffPost prize, such as being featured prominently on the well-trafficked news site. By democratizing fundraising—a major pain point for nonprofits—crowdfunding has become exponentially more popular over the last few years. But as this trend increases, the industry will need to find even more collaborative ways for organizations to work together to ensure both their individual and collective success.

Nonprofit consultant and trendspotter, Lucy Bernholz, predicts that in 2014, “new ecosystems of service providers, consulting firms, and constituent management companies will evolve to help associations and foundations manage crowdfunding campaigns.”

Whatever you call it—community, network, ecosystem—we’re all in this together!

About the Skoll Foundation

Jeff Skoll established The Skoll Foundation in 1999 to drive large-scale change by connecting, celebrating, and investing in social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents—creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By identifying the people and programs already enacting positive change throughout the world, the Foundation empowers them to extend their reach, deepen their impact, and fundamentally improve society.

The Foundation is a leader in social entrepreneurship and has awarded more than $400 million to nearly 100 social entrepreneurs and organizations across the globe. The Foundation also funds program-related and mission-aligned investments. To build public awareness of social entrepreneurship and innovative solutions, the Foundation partners with leading film and broadcast organizations such as NPR, PBS, and the Sundance Institute to tell compelling stories of impact.

About CrowdRise

CrowdRise is a crowd-funding platform for people and organizations to raise support for charitable causes. CrowdRise’s core principles are that people have unprecedented power to use the power of networks to leverage their personal capacity and that raising money for charity and giving back should be fun. CrowdRise’s custom-built platform and game theory, as well as the company’s proven record of designing innovative crowd-funding strategies, provide individual fundraisers, charities, and events with powerful tools to raise the most money for their causes and share compelling philanthropic stories with their personal networks. The site lets anyone turn their friends into an active base of donors for any cause and lets any organization, company, or event unlock untapped leverage out of their existing platform.

CrowdRise topped Mashable’s list of “Most Innovative Crowdfunding Platforms” and was named a “Top 25 Best Global Philanthropist” by Barron’s. CrowdRise was founded by actor and activist Edward Norton, producer Shauna Robertson, and the founders of Moosejaw, Robert and Jeffrey Wolfe. Thousands of charitable organizations, events, celebrities, and everyday donors have made CrowdRise their philanthropic base for giving back.

About The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is a Pulitzer Prize-winning source of breaking news, features, and entertainment, as well as a highly engaged community for opinion and conversation. The Huffington Post has 46.2 million monthly U.S. unique visitors (comScore January, 2013) posting over eight million comments each month. The site has over 30,000 bloggers — from politicians, students and celebrities to academics, parents and policy experts — who contribute in real-time on the subjects they are most passionate about. The Huffington Post has editions in the UK, Canada, Quebec, France, Spain, and Italy.

Media inquiries:  Aaron Gannon | | 212.691.2800

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