Community Funded takes local crowdfunding concept to national level with higher ed platform

By: steveporter Thursday November 12, 2015 0 comments Tags: Fort Collins, community funded, McCabe Callahan, Ryan Stover, Crowdfunding

 

FORT COLLINS -- McCabe Callahan was no stranger to crowdfunding when he launched Community Funded in 2011.

Callahan, owner of Mugs Coffee Lounge in Fort Collins, turned to loyal customers to crowdfund the money he needed to open a second coffee shop when banks turned him down.McCabe_CallahanUSE

That experience led him to discuss his ideas with co-founder Ryan Stover, who agreed to set up Community Funded -- a community-centric crowdfunding platform to help anyone raise money for anything with the support of their community. The result was a local Kickstarter-type website that soon found traction with local entrepreneurs and one-off projects that local donors could help out.

All that was fine for a year or so, but then Callahan saw another possible use of the Community Funded platform -- one that could be applied to a wider user base.

“Because we focused on our community locally, we were kind of boxed in at the beginning as hyper-local,” he said. “But we very quickly pivoted after some conversations with Colorado State University and others.”

The concept was simple: Provide universities and colleges with a platform that would let donors pick and choose the projects and programs within the institution they wished to fund instead of sending their donation into a giant foundation bucket.

In 2012, CSU became Community Funded’s first development partner in its new focus on educational institution crowdfunding.

“Essentially, we take all of the power of a Kickstarter-like website and deeply integrate it into any professional fundraising organization's website," Callahan said.Community_Funded_logoUSE

CSU now has its “Charge!” fundraising site (http://supporting.colostate.edu/charge/) where the university, students, clubs and others can list their crowdfunding projects.

The amounts being raised vary widely, from a few hundred dollars to Rams Against Hunger, a project that saw 800 donors raise more than $42,000.

CU-Boulder is also using Community Funded’s platform. One of the biggest successes has been CU-Boulder graduate Robert Shearon’s CU-CRC Scholarship Scooter Trip, during which he raised $24,685 – surpassing his $20,000 goal – to establish a scholarship fund for the CU Collegiate Recovery Center, which helps students struggling with alcohol and other drugs.

Donors pledged money in support of Shearon’s 4,600-mile road trip from Colorado to Alaska this year, as he stopped along the way to share his recovery story at schools and recovery centers.

Callahan is especially proud of this Community Funded success story.

“This is a story that never would have been told without this technology being available,” he said.

To view a YouTube video of this project, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=148&v=Xbgc4GFIdnA

Callahan said the crowdfunding concept is growing in popularity across the nation, and Community Funded’s platform is now being used by schools in Wyoming, New Jersey, Oklahoma and several other states.

“We’re starting to get to this critical mass where it’s becoming part of any organization’s toolbox of services,” he said.

Callahan said schools and other organizations using Community Funded’s technology platform have so far raised more than $2 million and it's now available for use anywhere in the nation.

The success seen by the higher education application of Community Funded has resulted in CF no longer charging for the small local crowdfunding projects CF still helps.

“CF makes its money from annual subscriptions from clients they serve, allowing them to provide the functionality on CF.com for free to people who need to use it to raise money," said Callahan. “They (small projects) still have to pay a credit card fee, but it’s free otherwise.”

Callahan said his Community Funded journey has been satisfying, especially seeing the new wrinkle in crowdfunding for higher ed take off.

“That’s what’s been so fun about it," he said. "Ryan and I had a vision that put us on the bleeding edge, and now finally we are on the cutting-edge, which is where we want to be."

 

steveporter

About the Author: steveporter

Steve Porter, editor of InnovatioNews, has more than 20 years of newspaper experience in reporting, editing and managing news organizations. Steve brings a deep knowledge of the Colorado business landscape and award-winning writing and editing skills to the project.