Large companies operate differently than startups and entrepreneurs, but can still use the same tool – crowdfunding. There is a global push towards Corporate Social Responsibility and creating shared value, which has been embraced by many companies like Cisco, Nestle, and Intel (to name a few), who actually integrate their CSR into everyday decision-making. That said, there remains an opportunity for companies to create a platform where brands can interact with customers, donors, charities, and their community.
Externally, as a customer facing tool, crowdfunding campaigns can be displayed on a company’s corporate website. A campaign like this, for example, could be a partner charitable organization raising $1 million for a cause, and a company with a promise to match all donations if the campaign reaches the $500K threshold. A campaign like this can act as a marketing tool to display the company’s corporate initiatives, as well as amplify the effect of their donations. Rather than just making large corporate donations, public donations can be made that further increase company awareness. In this case, everyone who made a donation to the campaign online would see messaging that a corporation is matching donations dollar for dollar.
If a company wants to act as their own portal for campaigns, they can partner with a platform that provides white-label crowdfunding. Then campaigns can be started by the company, initiated by customers (only public after approval), or initiated by supported partner organizations. Companies can choose to match donations made to a specific campaign, donate perks for donations to a campaign, sponsor fees, or just host the campaign on their platform. The great part is that clicks are not reverted to a crowdfunding website, they stay on the corporate website. Similarly, posts can be seamlessly shared via social media, giving companies unique marketing reach. This white-label crowdfunding can change the game of corporate social responsibility to actually involve the community, instead of trying to tell them about all the great things a company does.
The widgets for campaigns like this can be shared anywhere – for example, if a company sponsors fees for a campaign by one of their partners, the widget could be shared on the corporate website, as well as the website of the charitable organization. The more visibility these campaigns have, the more they tend to raise. Similarly, the more interactive a campaign is, or the more customers and employees can get involved, the more people will share it online.
Internally to increase employee engagement, companies can adopt internal crowdfunding to fuel innovation within a company. For example, IBM started internal campaigns that gave employees some funds to invest in each other’s crowdfunding initiatives. They had great results and the innovative approach brought light to some great employee ideas, that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Harvard Business Review posted an informative article on the details of this initiative and the results they had.
Similarly, there is opportunity to provide internal crowdfunding for non-profit and personal causes of employees. This can range from medical expenses fundraising, to supporting a favorite local charity. This helps to strengthen company culture and encourage support of your corporate community.
Thanks to the crowdfunding revolution we have seen in the last five years, more than $5 billion was crowdfunded last year. As crowdfunding develops, so has crowdfunding as a service technology (CFaaST) and the opportunity to unite a community around the causes a company supports, while taking a leadership role. By aligning business pursuits with the triple bottom line, corporations can interact with all of their stakeholders and create shared value.
While there are a variety of rewards based crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, others have emerged to offer white label crowdfunding – a platform corporations can integrate into their own website. The interesting thing about crowdfunding is that it develops every day, and further innovations are on the way. The fact is that these innovations are creating an opportunity for corporations to do far more than they currently do via traditional means. Donating money is easy, but for those CSR thought leaders and companies that actually act with a triple bottom line – crowdfunding is something to think about.
Tessa MacDougall is currently working in a Marketing and Business Development role with FundRazr while pursuing her MBA from the Sauder School of Business. As a platform, FundRazr has helped raise over $50 Million in funds from over 40,000 campaigns. While FundRazr hosts all types of campaigns, FundRazr Business provides corporate crowdfunding solutions.