The local crowd

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The Local Crowd (TLC), one of Larta’s current portfolio companies (USDA CATP), is a crowdfunding company dedicated to catalyzing rural communities through technology. They have developed and are now testing the impact of their online crowdfunding tool. TLC is accepting applications from rural communities in the U.S. to serve as demonstration sites. The 10 communities selected will receive use of the TLC platform at no charge for the first year.

Local Crowd wants rural communities to imagine a fundraising tool in their community that:
• Supports local and small businesses’ capital needs
• Raises money for civic projects
• Provides needed funding sources for local non-profits and charities
• Connects the economic development resources in your community with the people who need them

If you would like to bring the power of localized crowdfunding to your community,
please respond to the RFP by February 1, 2016.

This RFP is targeted towards local economic development organizations such as SBDCs, chambers of commerce, Main Street programs or other business development organizations. Communities with businesses, entrepreneurs, residents, and community leaders who buy, shop and invest locally are strongly encouraged to apply.

As the TLC model becomes fully active in a community, it can serve to create more opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment, a greater and more diverse economic base, more options for growth and a better quality of life for rural residents.

The Local CrowdTM works with rural communities to create local crowdfunding ecosystems that support growth and sustainability of local businesses and organizations. Their full-service package includes locally-based crowdfunding software, consulting and instruction–including webinars, seminars, workshops, retreats, classes (in-person and online), and courses for groups and individuals.

The Local Crowd recently published these FAQs, which Vox is reposting for your convenience:
Q. We need more time. Can you offer any flexibility with your deadline?
A. Yes! If you can make the deadline of February 1, please do! But if you have extenuating circumstances that make it difficult, please email us and let us know the situation and the date you can submit your proposal.

Q. How will this benefit my community?
A. The Local Crowd will be a new asset for your community with many tangible and intangible benefits. Here are just a few.
• Local businesses and nonprofits will have a new fundraising tool to help them raise money to support their growth and ongoing contributions to the community.
• The TLC platform is a program income generator for participating communities — Platform fees (usually 2%-5% of dollars raised) will be returned to the host community. This helps cover the costs of future licensing fees — so the platform can pay for itself.
• TLC stimulates enhanced connectivity within your community — The Local Crowd is designed to become an online gathering place for community members to share their stories, their resources and love for their community.
• The Local Crowd will catalyze local shopping/spending, local investments and local engagement.
• You will be part of a research study to determine the impact of the TLC crowdfunding platform. You will be able to see the results of how the tool impacts your economy and connections within your community.
Q. What are the unique features and benefits of The Local Crowd Platform?
A. A quick Google search will bring up hundreds of crowdfunding platforms –everything from big names like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, to niche platforms for specialty industries. However, there are very few platforms designed for local and rural needs. Here are a few of the features unique to The Local Crowd:
• Sponsored rewards — businesses and individuals can contribute rewards to support fundraising campaigns.
• Off-line fundraising — proceeds from fundraising events or contribution jars can be added to the online total.
• In-kind donations — contributors can offer labor or other goods and services instead of money.
• Our interactive learning center includes a comprehensive two-level training system that will teach community hosts and users of the platform the science and secrets of success in crowdfunding.
• Robust onboarding system will get you and your team trained and ready to go quickly and efficiently.

Q. How can my host organization handle the work load of managing this new tool? It sounds like a full time job!
A. Indeed, the launch and maintenance of a this new asset for your community will take work. However, we believe it is very doable when you break it down into smaller parts and assign tasks to members of a team. We recommend that you evaluate who is doing what in your community and strategically enlist the help of folks who are already doing jobs similar to the tasks involved. For example, Small Business Development Centers may be very interested in providing consulting services for the businesses seeking to raise funds. We will provide the education to your team members so everyone will know what they need to do and how to do it.

Q. What will bring people to The Local Crowd website to support my community’s projects?
A. Research tells us that 80% of funds raised on crowdfunding platforms come from activities of the fundraising campaign creators and their teams. In the TLC model, the community becomes the team, increasing the outreach to first, second and third tiers of contacts. The key to leading people to any crowdfunding platform is a system for telling great stories, offering compelling rewards, and sharing widely. The Local Crowd platform includes education systems to leverage the capacity for sharing in a way that moves from first tier contacts to second and third tier contacts. Our platform includes strategies that help spread the word to the widest universe possible, exponentially multiplying the reach.

Q. We would like to do a regional application. Is that eligible?
A. Yes! You can determine your service area — by city, town, county or region. Just make sure the total population doesn’t go over 50,000.

Q. Where can I get more information and a copy of the RFP?
A. We held an informative webinar last month that covered the basics of the program. You can download a link to the audio and the PowerPoint slides.

Download MP3 audio: http://bit.ly/1InPR9Z
Download PowerPoint slides: http://bit.ly/1myt0P2