How crowdfunding helped me launch my social enterprise

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | 17 March, 2016

Social entrepreneur and naturopathy student Emily-Rose Pumfrey shares what she learned from running a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed to kickstart her organic body-care range.

Wellspringconnected with 23 year old social entrepreneur and naturopathy student Emily-Rose Pumfrey to find out what she learned through her recent crowdfunding campaign that raised the funds needed to kickstart her organic body-care range.

Emily-Rose Pumfrey Tell us more about your business Wash Away Poverty and where the journey began?

Wash Away Povertywas created during the most challenging period of my life. I had returned from volunteering at a children’s home in Thailand and the trip had completely cracked me open.

I was overwhelmed and depressed by the level of suffering and poverty in the world. I wanted to help but felt so helpless. Sure, I could donate my savings, sell my car or even my house... but it still didn’t feel like enough.

I knew I needed to create something bigger than myself and that is when Wash Away Poverty was created. I loved the idea of transforming everyday products into tools for world change, so I decided to start an organic body-care range that actively funds projects that support sustainable causes and provide clean water and sanitation to children in need from developing countries.

Fifty per cent of our net profits are donated to leading Australian charities.

How did you draw on your naturopathy studies to create your business?

Studying naturopathy helped me discover a deep love of herbal medicine and essential oils. The knowledge I gained made the formulation process for my products so much easier. I knew exactly what herbs and oils I wanted to use and how they were going to help our customers.

Your business was sponsored by ING Direct’s DreamStarter program, an initiative to help social entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground through crowdfunding. How did that come to be?

It had been eight months since I came up with the business idea behind Wash Away Poverty and I hit a road block with financing. I needed a minimum of $20,000 to get the company up and running, money I simply didn’t have.

The next day I woke up and all the water in my house was brown because of construction work being done locally. I couldn’t have a glass of water, make my morning smoothie or brush my teeth. What a wake up call! Although it is impossible to compare this to the 663 million people who don’t have access to clean water, I knew I needed to find a way to launch this business.

That afternoon I stumbled across an ad for the ING DreamStarter program on YouTube and I applied immediately. Two days later I received an email congratulating me on Wash Away Poverty being selected over more than 70 applications. Since that time ING has provided me with funding, social media support and an online platform to facilitate the crowdfunding process.

How did your crowdfunding campaign go and what did you learn from the experience?

Thanks to the incredible support of my family, friends, the community and ING Direct I raised more than $21,000 in just 30 days. I learned connecting with others on a personal level is so important. Social media was a great help but word of mouth and face-to-face connection was so much more powerful. I had friends texting me at 2am, family members telling everyone that would listen about the campaign and the most generous sponsors who donated more than $1,000 worth of products to help us raise more money.

What would you do differently next time?

As I’d never crowdfunded before I thought I shouldn’t start talking about my project until it launched. I now know this is a huge no no. It is better to start spreading the word and creating hype as soon as possible.

What is next for Wash Away Poverty?

Our organic hand washes and body washes are just about to move into production – pinch me! I’m in the middle of finalising product formulas, applying for Australian Certified Organic certification, setting up the online store, chatting to new retail stores and preparing to make my first donation to WaterAid Australia and Carbon Neutral charities. I’ve got the biggest smile on my face and can’t wait to help as many people as possible gain access to clean water.

1. Be clear in what you are trying to create and articulate how people can help. A strong call to action is essential.

2. Create an authentic video with you speaking directly to your audience. Your supporters want to know who you are! Keep it under three minutes for the best engagement.

3. Create exciting rewards for your supporters. These can range from $10 to $1000. You can also collaborate with other like-minded brands and ask them to donate products and vouchers.

4. Be prepared! Create a campaign plan, social media strategy, press release, emails and handouts to use during the campaign.

5. Stay positive. I found the first week and the last week of the campaign were the most active, so don’t get disheartened during the middle. Stay positive and try to connect with as many people as possible.

Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture and Myotherapy, a fully online Bachelor of Complementary Medicine and  HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage.

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