In order to get a picture of the crowdfunding environment for 2014, I reached out to some of the most prominent leaders in the world of crowdfunding for causes and mission-driven businesses. (Disclosure: Return on Change sponsored the Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference I organized in September 2013.)
1. Investment in social good will increase. Sang Lee, CEO and Founder of Return on Change, predicts, “Crowdfunding will permit increasing amounts of investment into the social good entrepreneurship sector in 2014.” He notes that, “As equity crowdfunding becomes activated in 2014, more individuals will have the opportunity to become directly invested in the impact that matters to them the most.”
Lee adds that as a result of increased capital flowing into social businesses, we’ll see “increasing focus and attention to the [impact investing] industry as a whole, which will also accelerate scale and collective identity within the industry.”
2. Individual crowdfunding will give way to a new model entirely. Wendy Robbins, CEO and founder of RedCapes, predicts, “Most people are not marketers. We believe that collective, hyper local, gamified contests, crowdsourced marketing buzz will be more important in 2014. We are creating this model with cause advocates with social media skills, bloggers, influencers, and press so there is a team built into each cause.”
3. Individual investors will build portfolios of crowdfunded investments for good. Vince Molinari, CEO of Gate Global Impact, anticipates, “Individual investors will begin to aggregate smaller investments into Crowdfunding Securities that are focused on social, environmental and cause related Issuers.” He attributes this to his observation that, “Global awareness has been created around the need to effectuate change and deploy capital for good into sustainable commercial enterprises.”
Molinari explained, “Delivering good via capital commitments will scale rapidly beyond philanthropy and donation-based models as sustainable investments globally by diaspora communities will be connected to direct need and result in individual engagement that will empower increased improvement in education, healthcare and poverty alleviation.”
4. Rapid growth of crowdfunding will continue. Amanda Barbara of Pubslush observes, “Crowdfunding overall is on the rise, driven in large part by entrepreneurial, artistic and philanthropic ideas. [My] prediction is that this growth will continue at least at the current rate, if not faster.”
Barbara explains, “Crowdfunding began its exponential rise around 2009. Google Trend data shows a correlating steady rise in social good beginning at the same time. It stands to reason they will continue to rise together, especially since much of the growing social development through new community projects can be attributed to an overall increase in connectivity and social awareness – aided in most part by crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is allowing supporters to be a part of the discovery process.
She adds, “The idea of crowdfunding is fundamentally based on social good, appealing to the shared interests and beliefs of the masses, seeking their support in campaign form. Central to Crowdfunding’s rise is the idea of ‘enabling the individual through mass support’. The expected social impact is an expansion in community and social development projects, on both the small and large scale – local and global.”
5. More people will make meaningful philanthropy part of their lives. Robert Wolfe, CEO of CrowdRise, predicts, “More and more people will make meaningful philanthropy a part of their personal narratives on Facebook, in school, on CrowdRise and really in everything they do — not solely because the world is an increasingly selfless place, but because people recognize that giving back is cool and thirst for the experience of participating in something that’s fun and feels good.” He explains the driver, “Giving back isn’t just transactional anymore and it’s not just about making a donation. It’s about engaging, participating and being part of a movement.”
“Generations of people won’t think about giving back as something they do in addition to their lives. Giving back will be woven into everyone’s daily life the same way that playing sports, for example, is. It’ll be like, “I’m really into pomegranates, I’m the second best player on my kickball team and I raised $6,000 this year for One Simple Wish and Americares,” he concluded.
6. Crowdfunding will top $10 billion in 2014. Billy Parish, CEO of Mosaic, predicts, “We should top $10B. Crowdsourcing solutions to social and environmental problems will continue hockey-stick growth. In 2011, the world crowdsourced $1.5B, in 2012 it was $2.7B, and we’re expecting to do $5.1B in 2013.” He explains that crowdfunding provides a key ingredient for a new generation of businesses, “Smarter and more sustainable business models are beginning to beat out incumbents, and those businesses need low-cost, flexible capital to scale.”
The impact of this is that, “Millions more people will become social investors. A handful of platforms serving different segments of the market will see dramatic growth and big banks will start to get into the game.”
7. Crowdfunding will democratize philanthropy. Lesley Mansford, CEO of Razoo, predicts that, “Amplified democratization of giving [will] make it easy for everyone to be an everyday philanthropist. Younger generations, especially millennials, are getting more involved with social good and philanthropy, and commonly prefer online giving through crowdfunding making technology critical to bringing generosity into the next era.“
8. Crowdfunding will lower the barrier for doing good. Dana Ostomel, Founder and CEO of Deposit a Gift, predicts, “Crowdfunding will lower the barrier to entry for people to do social good, empowering the average person to take the lead on directly helping others through establishing their own campaigns, be it for local service projects or global initiatives. Crowdfunding enables people to easily help their neighbor, a friend or even a stranger by setting up a site and distributing it to everyone they know and beyond, legitimizing the idea that you can truly affect change just by leveraging your social network in a smart way with a strong cause.”
She adds, “We will see a disruptive change in how people relate to ‘social causes’, because they will become increasingly more accessible and personal, thereby driving more acts of social good.”
9. The next year will bring an inflection point in growth. Dennis HU, CEO of Fundly, predicts, “The crowdfunding for social good space will continue to grow tremendously and I believe we will see an inflection point where this becomes really the de-facto standard for raising money for the people, places and causes you care about.”
“At Fundly, we believe that the social impact of this will be first seen amongst local/social/personal communities across the country, where people begin to make their direct communities better and more engaged through self-driven campaigns on the things they care about,” he concludes.
10. There will be more good in the world. Tom Dawkins, CEO and founder of StartSomeGood, predicts, “More good in the world! The power of crowdfunding is that it allows us to bypass traditional gatekeepers, leading to more risk-taking, more innovation and more breakthroughs. And more failures, sure, but this is what innovation looks like, and we need more innovation to address our most pressing challenges.”