February 11, 2014
Every year on the 4th of July, the town I live in hosts one of the best fireworks displays in all of San Diego. A lot of people like to argue that Sea World has better fireworks, but Ocean Beach brings in a wild card element to spice it up: a community-wide marshmallow fight. Once the fireworks are over, everybody just goes berserk and chucks marshmallows everywhere.
But to me, the coolest part about this 4th of July celebration is the fact that it’s entirely community subsidized. Every restaurant and shop leading up to the 4th has canisters to throw your loose change or small bills in. Every single penny goes toward the event which everybody gets to take part in; it’s how people used to crowdfund their projects before Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
It brings up a really important question, though: what happens if the funding goal isn’t met? It’s a question that people who crowdfund the old school and new school ways are familiar with, and the hard answer is that the project either gets put on hold or is entirely eliminated.
To the team at FundOurCommunity, no project should ever have to face that fate. That’s why they built a fundraising platform specifically designed for individuals, city officials, business owners, churches, youth leagues, clubs like the YMCA, and private schools to post projects and reach out for support when they need it.
The idea came about when founding member Ron Stebenne met up with Danny Beckett Jr. while seeking funding for a skate park project. Stebenne learned about the benefits of crowdfunding, and decided to up the ante for his project.
In fact, he ended up creating an actual company called FundMyPark that utilized the crowdfunding model to fund local parks. However, Stebenne soon realized that his new company should include fundraising for all worthy causes within a community: FundOurCommunity was born.
“Current market entrants are focused on tech savvy users and doing pretty well, but are missing the needs of localized communities as well as less tech savvy individuals,” says CEO David Brown, FundOurCommunity team member. “Project creators are often ‘one offs’ and tend to create poor lifetime value with the platform they use.”
Not only is that sufficient motivation to keep a startup like FundOurCommunity going, it’s also a huge boon to marketing efforts. Being able to fit into a niche, with little competition, will only help as the team works to expand outside of San Diego, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Grand Rapids.
The other thing they have going for them is a collective, defining belief in a social trend where individuals incorporate a ‘giving back’ mentality into their own lives. That fuels their passions to give back as much as they can to the communities they interact with.
“We all believe we need to give back, and FundOurCommunity is the vehicle we believe we can do the most good with,” says Brown.
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