Welcome to On Small Business’s new series spotlighting interesting crowdfunding campaigns in Washington. Every other week, we’ll feature a new company or individual attempting to raise money through these new online portals.
Who: Olivier Kamanda, founder of Ideal Impact. Kamanda was previously a speechwriter and advisor to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a partner with the Way Home campaign in Washington. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Where: Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
When: Started in January 2014
Raised / Goal: Raised $11,479 of $15,000 (as of Feb. 3)
What’s the pitch?
“Basically, we’re building a series of tools that turn news stories into actionable content for social impact. Every day, people read the news and they read about things they care about, and at the end of a story, there’s often a natural human response to engage and do something about what you just read. That’s particularly true if it’s about social issues such as homelessness, immigration, climate change, and so on.
“So, the idea is that you can install our mobile app on your phone, and when you’re reading an article through an app or your mobile browser, the same way you would have a share button, you’ll have a small Ideal Impact button. When you click that button, our platform will instantly show you community service and advocacy opportunities in your community, whether that’s somewhere to volunteer your time or donate to a cause related to the article.”
Where did you get the idea?
“The idea really clicked about year ago. I was working with the Way Home campaign in D.C., which is an effort to end chronic homelessness in Washington by urging the city council to invest in more affordable housing. Around the time we were getting started, this was December 2013, the New York Times published this Invisible Child story on a homeless girl in New York, and the article started making the rounds on social media and really sparked a discussion on homelessness. On my Facebook feed, I was seeing people I never thought I would see engage on the issue wondering how they could get involved.
“Seeing all that energy, and knowing that we were starting a campaign that was looking for those people… I realized that if everyone in the D.C. area who read that article knew about our campaign, we would be able to leverage that energy and that passion. I quit my job the next month and have been working on this for the past year.”
Why did you turn to crowdfunding?
“What we’re really trying to build is a social impact community, so it made sense to go out to the community and see if people really were interested in what we were trying to build. We wanted to draw buy-in from people who will eventually end up using the platform.”
What would the money be used for?
“It would go toward the development of the mobile app.”
What’s your long-term vision for the project?
“The vision is about the improving the civic experience and drawing people into a social impact community. The reality is that a lot of mission-driven organizations and nonprofits spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out who cases about the issues they care about and reaching those people. There’s a market barrier there. We want to build a system that’s more sustainable.
“The mobile app is the first step, but we see this being a large community platform, where people who care about advocacy and service and civic engagement can find a way engage in the issues they care about.”
Editors note: Our coverage in this series does not constitute an endorsement. For more information about crowdfunding, please check out this SEC Fact Sheet.
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