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How did you raise the money for your idea and what is your advice for others considering DYI fundraising?

You might have a brilliant idea that you are excited about. So, now what? Money, in most of the cases, is a prerequisite. Who can be your potential supporter? How can you get funding? How can you attract your investors, sponsors or funders and how can you convince them? We asked 8 social innovators from different fields, sectors and countries representing some the most successful social innovation initiatives to share their knowledge and experience with us. Let’s find out how they got it done!

Wayfindr has been the beneficiary of a series of grants, including from Google.org and the Big Lottery Fund. We have also generated revenue from our audio navigation trials, and have also received a small amount of European funding. For others seeking funds, it is worth investigating EU funding opportunities and finding a consortium of partners who are active in similar areas. Many large corporations also run innovation labs which offer opportunities for funding, investment and knowledge transfer. There are also a wide range of competitions to enter which can lead to grants, investment, and advice.

Tiernan Kenny, Wayfindr

There are many competitions which people can enter, as well as the Social Impact Award competition. Now they don’t give as much money but you receive mentoring and become part of the community and network. I believe that crowdfunding can also be very interesting. It can bring a lot of assistance, because you can see if the product is desired by people and if people are willing to buy it and give feedback. We haven’t tried a crowdfunding campaign but I think they can be good if you try to implement them.

Andreea Zaharescu, Upside Down

The money, as already mentioned, has been raised through participation in local, national or international prizes and competitions, as well as through requests directed to local and national foundations. The advice we believe might be useful for others is to recognize that fundraising is an activity that shouldn’t be regarded lightly, it requires a substantial effort and in too many occasions is regarded as a side activity that can be dealt with in one’s spare time. At the same time a project that can last must forecast a moment in the mid to long-term future when fundraising isn’t a main channel for financial sustainability and instead slowly disappears. With this perspective, the main suggestion we can give is that of structuring a solid business plan that includes a means of subsistence that relies on the projects income rather than on external philanthropy.

Giulia Houston, Progetto Qiud

We tried raising money with crowdfunding campaign, but it was not successful in itself. But it was a consequence of the campaign that we were offered a personal loan from one of our supporters. We continue to raise money for investments through personal loans and also through the activities of the cooperative. We find it hard to raise money otherwise, so we recommend finding your own way.

Živa Lopatič, BUNA

Personal savings and a few grants. One of my findings was that nobody can give from lack; therefore the most important aspect is start by having enough to cover the basic monthly expenses. Is that a part time job? Maybe. Every team member should be empowered enough to recognise that “I am the first priority”.

Jose Antonio Morales, Lincoln Island Initiatives

In our prototype we invested our own funds. After having a working prototype and proof of concept, we received funding from public and private investors and various competitions. When we started receiving good feedback and consequently the first happy customers, we knew it was all worth it.

Željko Khermayer, Feelif

At the beginning, and even now sometimes, we invest our knowledge, our time, all our capabilities or even materials. We use our personal equipment. This is how we invest. In a financial way, we also try to find some call that we can apply for. We try to sell our products on the market. In the last two years, we have done more B2B business. This shows us that we have better results.

Maja Rijavec and Alenka Kreč Bricelj, Smetumet

The inventors of Nefiks, Društvo Mladinski Ceh, got support from the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth. Later on, the Ministry of Education remained a supporter but not with big financial assistance. We had to search for projects all the time to support at least one part of Nefiks.  We also have dedicated IT people who started the tools and they are trying to maintain these with us and provide insights. Recently, we got an EU project, financed from European Structure Funds (ESF) and we developed the Nefiks tools system for acquiring competencies towards the platform for meeting young people and employers.  We struggle all the time.

Alenka Blazinšek, Nefiks

Would you like to learn how inspiring social innovators answer other important questions such as how to start your project from scratch or how to capture and engage your audience?

Check out the Social Innovation Academy – the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.

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