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Making change: Why crowdfunding is good for business

Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

Jessica Rowe
Culture Journalist

Jessica Rowe is a Melbourne-based writer with a passion for not-for-profits, the digital world and making a difference

When you set yourself a fundraising target, there are many ways to raise the capital. And today, more and more people are turning to crowdfunding to help them reach their goals.

Often we talk about making a difference. But not knowing the cause, or even how to help can hold us back. But for Ruby Olive founder and 2014 Telstra Queensland Young Business Woman of the Year Skye Anderton, who has seen firsthand the working conditions in third world countries, she knew where to help. Skye used her marketing experience and natural creative flair to empower women in Africa. 

Collection bowl with change

Finding the right cause, for you

The Hunger Project works to break the cycle of poverty. It focuses on empowering women who are poor and illiterate by giving them a voice. And as a female entrepreneur with a background in fashion and retail, helping women wasn’t a choice for Skye, it was something she was destined to do.

“Because of my work in the fashion industry I used to do a lot of travel to India and other developing countries. I went to a lot of factories and visited really poor environments. I’ve been exposed to a lot of circumstances which are not really fair.

“The thing I love about [The Hunger Project] is that it’s so global. They’re more interested in long term self-reliance and regeneration than short-term aid. And it’s more about empowering and educating… it has a real focus on women – empowering women, which I have a real passion about… it’s really close to my heart.” 

Designing a fundraising plan

Traditional capital raising, such a bank loans, grants and morning teas are ideal for some individuals and small businesses. However, they can come with limitations: approvals, paper work and tight payback periods. So, as a lover of the digital space, Skye decided to raise money through crowdfunding – an increasingly popular method of raising money from the public over the internet.

“The virtual world is something that resonates with me… and I thought ‘how awesome would it be to have an online event? Have a 30-day online event where I could market the campaign and get people on board’.”

Before Skye could launch her campaign, she had to come up with a clear marketing plan. This involved timings, goals, milestones, branding and customer rewards. After two months of planning, Skye set herself the target to raise $15,000 in 30 days ($10,000 is the crowdfunding minimum). She also incorporated her online jewellery and accessory store into her strategy to encourage donations. If someone donated $50, they would receive a Ruby Olive accessory; if they donated $200, they would receive a happiness box which included a $100 Ruby Olive voucher. Skye also had the business smarts to write a hand-written thank you note to every person who donated – a simple, yet clever way to build loyalty and a positive brand image.  

Why giving back matters

Like any project, hard work and perseverance pays off. Skye reached her target and was able to fly to Uganda to help these women build better lives.

“They’re able to create a small business with a microloan of $50.

“With that, they learn business skills, which then gives them the foresight to create something for their future, for their family.

Using our professional skills for the greater good is something all businesses should consider. A philanthropic arm can transform how your brand is perceived as it shows values and commitment to change.

“I think it’s something that businesses should be doing, need to be doing. I think it’s really important.

“When you see what they’ve been able to achieve with their limited opportunities and education, it’s phenomenal. So for us, with such huge opportunities living in Australia, we’ve got no excuses really.”

Did you know?

Figures from The Hunger Project show that:

  • $50 could train 40 people in Africa about how mothers and babies can get the best health and nutrition
  • $250 could empower 12 woman leaders in India to unite with other women leaders to have a powerful fighting voice for change
  • $500 could allow a community to purchase food-processing equipment
  • $1500 could train 13 elected women leaders in India over five years. This training empowers these women to stand up for the rights of their constituents, and to fight to bring water and electricity to their villages

Skye's tips for creating a successful campaign

  1. Plan in advance. A successful campaign comes down to a clear and strategic marketing plan.
  2. Reward your supporters. Encourage people to donate by offering gifts or vouchers.
  3. Let your passion shine through. If you’re raising money for something that truly matters to you, you’ll always go above and beyond to reach your goal. 
Do you know a brilliant business woman like Skye?

Nominate her now for the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. Entries close 29 June.  

Find out more

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