Want to raise money for your social innovation? 8 inspiring social innovators tell you how

How did you raise the money for your idea and what is your advice for others considering DYI fundraising? You might have a brilliant idea that you are excited about. So, now what? Money, in most of the cases, is a prerequisite. Who can be your potential supporter? How can you get funding? How can you attract your investors, sponsors or funders and how can you convince them? We asked 8 social innovators from different fields, sectors and countries representing some the most successful social innovation initiatives to share their knowledge and experience with us. Let’s find out how they got it done!

`In every social innovative venture, the onus first lies with the founder to bring the idea to life. People don’t believe in your idea if they don’t see your commitment and belief in what you are doing. In my case, the first set of funds for this initiative was through personal savings from work and consulting jobs because support was not coming forth. Rolling out social innovation in Africa is quite difficult because the environment hasn’t grown to support it yet. For example, unlike in developed countries where social enterprises can be registered by law, it is not so yet in our laws. There are no provisions for CICs, SICs like it is in Canada, USA or some parts of Europe. Every entity besides PLC, LLC or Sole proprietorship is assumed to be an NGO or non-profit. This in itself inhibits opportunities for growth or clarity of purpose to attract the right supports.’ says Adetunji Adeniran, co-founder and Executive Director of Hopefield Network. Adetunji AdeniranHopefield Network

‘We raised our first round of funding by having a solid team and plan and our legal charitable status approved by the Charity Commission. We had a clear direction and knew how we were going to get there and were very passionate and committed to follow the plan through no matter what. The latter was very important when approaching individual donors and organisations. We have been very humbled to have received the invaluable support of esteemed foundations, corporates and individuals without whom, we would not have been able to grow our organisation and to whom we are very grateful. Key I think is turning up prepared, know what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there setting out your three year plan. Having a team whose skills are also complementary is key as it proves you have the driving force to execute on your vision.’ says Effie Kyrtata, the co-founder and CEO of Reload Greece, a UK registered charity which enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to start businesses that have a social and economic impact in their home country. Effie Kyrtata, Reload Greece

`The initial funding for the company came from our own funds. This was certainly challenging but it also helped us build high levels of discipline in our spending. If others are considering DIY fundraising, we would recommend having multiple sources of funds and a very concrete plan for spending the funds in general.’ says the co-founder of Care Across, says Thanos Kosmidis who runs a digital start-up company focusing on cancer. Thanos Kosmidis, Care Across

‘We acted on several sources: of course we invested ourselves, we also convinced a commercial company to invest (against some returns), we have attracted subscribers and currently we are working on getting industry sponsorships.‘ says Toni Staykova, co-founder of the UKeMED Platform which works as a single open operational space to support the development and deployment of telematic services for the management and sharing of knowledge and experience among healthcare professionals in all operational aspects around the world. Toni Staykova, UKeMED 

‘We were able and lucky enough to share the first prize of the 2017 Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award. This gave us the funds and the justification to move forward with our idea.’ says Konstantinos Politis, founder of Socialinnov, a non-profit endeavour with a mission to eliminate the digital skills gap and high unemployment rates by educating individuals and connecting technological talent with the private sector. Konstantinos Politis, Socialinnov 

‘A few companies have supported us via their CSR programs. The fundraising model would be an effective supplementary channel’ says Stathis Haikalis being responsible for the Human Grid Project which is about connecting social initiatives and volunteer groups in Greece. Stathis Haikalis, Human Grid Project

‘Through collaborations and sponsorships, although it became increasingly difficult after 2012, for obvious reasons.’ says Nicholas Protonotarios who is in charge of “The Hub Events” series of lectures in social sciences. Nicholas ProtonotariosThe Hub Events

‘We bootstrapped our business for several years before starting to revenue generate and now we have our advisory arm, C3 Partners and we have the support of HSBC who are powering our C3 Social Impact Accelerator Program this year. The program provides selected participants with months of one-on-one expert support culminating in February 2019 in a full week of workshops and networking events in Dubai with impact investors and global expertise on hand. There will be prizes (financial and in kind HSBC support) and for the more advanced companies they may be able to further their conversations with impact investors started during the event. I would advise all entrepreneurs considering fundraising to make sure they have a strong financial model, a strong team, get good advice on governance, practice their pitch (a lot) and make sure they do their research on the kind of investor that will suit the needs of their business. Many social entrepreneurs come unstuck if they seek investment from investors who don’t value their social mission.’ says Anna-Liisa Googs, Co-Founder and Partner at C3 Partners – Executives on Demand (C3P), a UAE-based advisory firm providing senior executive support services to businesses needing temporary management solutions. Anna-Liisa Goggs, Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3)

Kostas Sotiropoulos