Crowdfunding for and by Monadnock Region businesses is coming next month.
Members of several regional economic development organizations are launching The Local Crowd Monadnock — an online platform to raise money for projects proposed by area businesses — in mid-March.
In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular way for people to raise money for personal causes and creative projects by seeking small donations from friends, family members and others online. Websites including Kickstarter and GoFundMe are two of the most well-known crowdfunding platforms.
The Local Crowd Monadnock will provide a fundraising platform for small business initiatives aimed at boosting economic activity in the region, according to Jen Risley, executive director of Monadnock Buy Local, one of the organizations behind the launch.
Risley said she hopes the crowdfunding platform will help fill “capital gaps” in the region. Small businesses will benefit from the opportunity to seek donations online, she said.
“They want to grow but some of them can’t find the means to raise the funds to do that. This is the way to bring the community on board,” she said.
The Local Crowd Monadnock will be seeking proposals for fundraising campaigns that focus on sustainability, the arts and green manufacturing, Risley said. During its pilot phase only businesses in Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Keene, Swanzey and Winchester will be able to propose fundraising campaigns. Businesses can submit their pitches at http://monadnocklocal.org/tlc/?cfpage=submit-campaign.
The online platform The Local Crowd Monadnock will be using to host the campaigns is made possible by The Local Crowd, a Wyoming-based crowdfunding company, Risley said.
The company recently received a USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant as part of a study looking at the effectiveness of crowdfunding in rural communities.
The Monadnock Region was one of 12 communities throughout the country that received free licensing for The Local Crowd’s online crowdfunding platform for two years. To receive the licensing, rural cities, towns or communities had to submit applications to The Local Crowd, Risley said.
The Monadnock Region is the only community in New England or on the East Coast that The Local Crowd selected. Other locations that will receive licensing for the crowdfunding platform include Butte, Mont., Goshen, Ind., and Harlingen, Texas.
The Local Crowd Monadnock will go live with two fundraising campaigns on March 18, at http://monadnocklocal.org/TLCLaunch. That same day it will be hosting a public “launch party” at Stonewall Farm.
Stonewall Farm is one of the businesses whose crowdfunding campaigns will be launched that day. The group will be seeking donations to rebuild its animal barn and add a classroom space so visitors will be able to better interact with farm animals, according to Risley. Stonewall Farm is a Keene-based nonprofit organization, dairy farm and agricultural education center.
Archway Farms in Keene is the other business whose crowdfunding campaign will go live in March. The business hopes to raise money to fund a food cart that will allow them to serve their homemade sausages at local farmers’ markets and events, according to Risley.
The Local Crowd Monadnock will be taking on several more fundraising campaigns in the months after the launch.
Besides Monadnock Buy Local, the other organizations behind the launch are the Southwest Region Planning Commission, Hannah Grimes Center, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Monadnock Economic Development Corp. and New Hampshire Small Business Development Center.
Risley said she thinks the crowdfunding model is effective because it empowers citizens to build on projects and economic initiatives in the region.
“You’re using the power of the internet to do this, but it’s really about connecting the dots between people and interests and community,” she said.