And startup Piggybackr is making the job even easier for kids with the launch today of a kid-friendly approach to crowdfunding.
“[Kids] are super tech savvy and everyone and their mom is fundraising online,” founder Andrea Lo told VentureBeat. “While entrepreneurs, artists, and nonprofits fundraise online with great success, I wondered why this hasn’t spread to youth and their communities.”
Lo was first inspired by her 11-year-old sister, who was trying to earn money by selling bracelets. Lo wanted to help her sister be more savvy and business-minded and ultimately achieve a higher financial goal. She began investigating why kids are largely not involved with crowdfunding and found that there were a specific set of challenges that could be addressed.
On Piggybackr, kids learn how to set up a fundraiser and wage successful campaigns. There is a strong educational component, with suggested ideas, instructional videos, and tools so they can reach out to and engage their audience. The gamified task list helps keep kids motivated. Kids can also earn “effort points” to reflect their hard work in ways other than dollars, and they can earn skill badges for specific achievements. Since kids often fundraise socially, Piggybackr also offers features for organizing team members, communicating, and working together to achieve goals. The site is armed with safety features, and kids under 13 need their parents’ permission to use the service.
“The reality is, most kids are raising smaller amounts from friends, family, and local businesses,” Lo said. “Teaching them how to maximize their potential with that audience is key, and then they can start to think about getting larger. We are really focused on teaching kids tactically what they can do.”
During the private beta, kids raised an average of $75 per individual supporter. For anyone who has ever peddled Girl Scout cookies door-to-door or swum 100 laps for Cystic Fibrosis, you know this is a significant amount. Piggybackr has helped youth raise over $250,000 while still in beta. It launched today with 1,500 participants, which Lo expects will grow quickly now that the product is public. Piggybackr is also working with 10 partner organizations to expand its distribution. The United Way Youth Venture is one of the partners and looks at Piggybackr as a way to build problem solving skills and entrepreneurship, as well as to fundraise.
Projects range from a wheelchair basketball team in need of new equipment to an individual kid raising money for a turtle protection project in Costa Rica. Piggybackr takes 5 percent and 30 cents per transaction that comes in. The company is based in San Francisco and currently has three full-time employees.