Category Archives: FAQ

How is ioby different than other civic crowdfunding sites?

In the last ten years, crowdfunding has become a huge industry, with  billions of dollars a year being exchanged on hundreds of platforms  worldwide each year.  Crowdfunding has supported everything from  art and music, to new technology, to  personal causes like medical bills and travel expenses.

The sub-field of civic crowdfunding – in which money is raised for projects for the public good –  has also grown, although at a much smaller scale. ioby is part of this  civic crowdfunding  movement: more than  $2.5  million has been raised on our platform by residents who want to make their neighborhoods safer,  greener, and more livable.  With an average project size of less than $4,000, that’s a lot of small change making a big impact.


what we do

More than Just Money

As our more than 700 ioby leaders have learned, raising funds to make positive change in your neighborhood can be a game-changer. However, our   online crowdfunding platform is only a small part of what we do. As a community-driven nonprofit with a deep commitment to social equity, our goal is to provide all sorts of new tools and resources to neighbors with great ideas to improve their own neighborhoods.  (More about how we choose where to work is here.) This might mean finding volunteers, or being connected with a decision maker in city government, or  with a network of peers whose   experience and stories might benefit a first-time leader.

In short, we want to connect change makers with the knowledge, resources, and networks they need to succeed. And we recognize that in order to do so, we need to focus beyond just our online presence to build real, on-the-ground communities.


How does it work?

Our services include a full suite of in-person and online trainings. As soon as you submit a project idea to ioby, we’ll reach out to help you refine it to give you the best chance of success, set a budget, make a fundraising plan, and set realistic targets and a timeline. We’ll continue to work one-on-one with you during your campaign to help you strategize on the fly, and send you tips and resources tailored to your campaign.

(Read more about our services here.)


Small  projects add up

Unlike some other civic crowdfunding sites that primarily raise money for government-led projects, we focus on serving citizen-led groups from loose networks of neighbors to established nonprofits. ioby leaders might be totally new to fundraising, or might be part of an organization that typically relies on grants and is looking to try another tool. And while  the   average ioby project is fairly small in scale,  we believe the benefits to the neighborhood, to the leader, and to the community  go well beyond dollars raised.

Carrying out   a small-scale, community-driven, and quickly-implemented project in your neighborhood can be a powerful way to engage the place you live, your neighbors, and your local leaders. And taken together, all this citizen-led, citizen-funded change is making  a huge impact in the way our neighborhoods are shaped.

How to launch an ioby campaign in four simple steps

So you have a great idea for improving your neighborhood—a way to make it safer, greener, more livable, or just more fun.

Congratulations! You’re already well on your way!

Now, you want to use ioby to help you raise money, find volunteers, and get the word out. Perfect—this is what we’re all about!

The next step is to set up and launch your ioby campaign. That may sound intimidating, but we’ve broken it down into four simple steps. It’s pretty quick and pretty easy, and we promise we’ll be here to help!

1) Tell us about it!

Go to and tell us the basics of your project using the form. Then tell us how much money you think you’ll need to raise, and when you’d like to raise it by. An ioby staff member will take a gander at your ideas and contact you within a day to talk it over.

ioby idea form

2) Crunch your numbers.

Next, gather your team around and crunch your numbers. Our tried-and-true formula for helping you figure out how much money to ask for—and how to ask for it—is illustrated in our Prospect Chart. Step-by-step instructions for filling it out are included on the page. Take a crack at it and watch your fundraising plan take shape before your eyes!

ioby Prospect Chart

3) Create your campaign page

Write a description of your project explaining why it’s awesome and why people should support it. You can include photos, illustrations, videos—anything you think will help to tell your story. Get some inspiration for crafting a great page by perusing these fully-funded projects.

4) Say it loud, say it proud!

Once your page is live, you can start spreading the word about your project—online, on the ground, and from the rooftops! We’ll be there to help you all along the way, with trainings and resources designed just for new ioby leaders like you. And you’re also welcome to call us up anytime for advice. We want to see your project succeed as much as you do!

See, that wasn’t so crazy, was it?
We hope you’ll get started today! We’re excited to welcome you to our movement of neighborhood leaders who are making positive change in their neighborhoods, block by block.


Top fundraising ideas for grassroots success

It’s a great time to be a grassroots fundraiser. The Internet, online social networks, fiscal sponsorship, and an uptick in enthusiasm for DIY projects of all kinds mean that, in many ways, it’s easier for individuals to raise money now than ever before.

That said, this is also an age of information deluge, and it can be tricky to weed through all the fundraising ideas out there to find what will work best for you.

ioby is all about helping people get their neighborhood projects off the ground, and that includes a lot of fundraising. Below, we’ve compiled our top fundraising ideas into a handy list.


Fundraising ideas

But what is ioby? (aka: Why should I listen to your fundraising ideas?)

ioby is a crowd-resourcing (crowdfunding + resource organizing) nonprofit that helps local leaders implement and grow their ideas for bettering their neighborhoods, one block at a time, all across the U.S. Since 2009, we’ve helped to fund over 1,000  grassroots projects with more than $3  million in crowdfunded cash.

We’re the nation’s leading platform for citizen-led, -designed, -funded, and -implemented community improvement projects. In the short term, we’re delivering resources to grassroots leaders. Long term, we’re fostering stronger civic infrastructure and positive, lasting change in our country’s neighborhoods.

We do this in a few major ways:

  • Our platform. On the ioby website, you can post, promote, and fundraise for your project.
  • Our resources. We help you every step of the way. Read our guides, attend our webinars, and talk with our knowledgeable staff to make sure you feel confident and comfortable at every stage.
  • Our sponsorship. If you need a nonprofit to receive donations on your behalf, we’re happy to help.

Okay. Now that I know you’re awesome, what advice can you give me?

We’re glad you asked! Here’s a list of the Top 7 Fundraising Ideas we’ve collected over the years :

1. Build a team. We know this is your brilliant idea for bettering your neighborhood, and you deserve credit! But our experience has shown that teams raise money about six times faster than individuals. So before anything else, we recommend you find at least three other awesome people to embark on your project with you.

2. Be specific. Potential donors want to know exactly where their money’s going. Instead of just asking for funding to build a community garden, spell out that you need $300 for a tool shed, $100 for soil, and $75 for a wheelbarrow.

3. Set a reasonable target. “How much should I ask for?” is one of the questions we hear most. Of course, it all depends on your project, but remember that the less you need to ask for, the more likely you’ll be to achieve full funding. Our Leader Toolkit   lays out every step of the budgeting process.

4. Know your donors. You’ll need to tailor your campaign marketing to appeal to them specifically. Does your target audience work with kids? You can safely use education jargon. Are they local sports fans? Go to some games. Are they on Twitter? If not, don’t bother Tweeting about your project night and day

5. Tell a sticky story. By sticky, we mean “sticks with you.” Making sure your fundraising language is authoritative, focused, and dramatic (and/or funny) will make your story memorable and your project stand out. Find more tips in our  Leader Toolkit.

6. Shout out your deadline. Donors are more likely to give to projects with urgent funding needs. Plus deadlines keep you and your team accountable.

7. Plan more, work less. This is the old ounce of prevention, no less true in fundraising than anywhere else. To get started planning, let’s get started talking! Tell us your big idea for improving your neighborhood.

Great. But I’ve also heard some fundraising ideas that didn’t sound so lovely…

Perhaps you’re referring to the Top 3 Fundraising Myths?

1) You need a glamorous, never-been-done idea. Not so! People raise real money for ordinary things all the time: community gardens, neighborhood murals, after-school programs… You just need to have an achievable idea, do some planning, and put some time into it.

2) Most crowdfunding campaigns fail. Well, it depends on where you’re looking. Kickstarter’s full-funding success rate is about 40%; Indiegogo’s is about 12%. At ioby, we’re sitting pretty at 80%! The difference? We think it’s all the resources, support, and coaching we offer our leaders to help them succeed. Here, you won’t be tempted to just set up a page and let the money roll in (because trust us, it won’t). We help you market your campaign on and offline to build donor interest and trust—then you’ll see the Benjamins.

3) Fundraising campaigns annoy people. Okay, this can be true, but not when they’re done right! People love giving to causes they care about. If you use ioby to get your project off the ground, you’ll learn about how to work with your donors to keep them happy, engaged, and giving.


Cool, I’m getting the hang of this fundraising thing! What should I do now?

  • If you’d like to learn more about what ioby is and does, see our About page. To read about the small fees we charge to stay in business (we’re the best fundraising deal on the Internet!), see our Fee page.
  • If you already have a project in mind, visit our Idea page to tell us about it and get the ball rolling.

We hope you’ve found these fundraising ideas helpful, motivating, and maybe even enjoyable to read. As always, we love to hear your questions and comments—please drop us a line.


idea button

FAQ of the week: What’s the deal with fiscal sponsorship? And is ioby the right fiscal sponsor for you?

This week, we’re popping the hood and doing a little digging into our own track record with fiscal sponsorship, which is one of the important services we offer to the grassroots groups we support. We wanted to get at the story here: what brings neighbors to us with the funds for their neighborhood-improvement projects? When the leaders of a grassroots project start to look around at the potential fiscal sponsors available to them, how do they know   ioby the best fit?

We’re also ramping up our work with fabulous partner organizations like Citizens Committee for New York City, which sent about 10 of their 315 projects to us for fiscal sponsorship in 2014. Citizens works with self-help and civic-action-oriented projects, granting support to promising initiatives in NYC. They require that their grantees, if they don’t have 501(c)3 status, either open a bank account in the group’s name or work with a fiscal sponsor. Sometimes, Citizens works with a non-501(c)3 group that actually has the means to open a new bank account in the project’s name, but opts for fiscal sponsorship instead, simply because that relationship will allow them to focus more of their time and energy on the project itself – the new community garden, the composting initiative, or whatever it may be. We’re looking forward to teaming up with other like-minded partner organizations in the coming months, and thinking actively about where we might be a good fit.

small projects

So. Our main takeaway? The resounding message we heard is that what ioby does well is SMALL. There is no neighborhood improvement project too small-scale, no organization or group of neighbors too “unofficial” (read: no office and no staff), no initiative too grassroots for us to take on. A single mural to be painted by local artists onto a rundown underpass in Memphis? Bring it ON. Four retired neighbors dreaming up a community garden in Brooklyn? YES PLEASE. A church raising money to rescue and relocate some honeybees that got stuck in their bell tower? DO YOU EVEN HAVE TO ASK? We love working with these tiniest of tiny initiatives. We believe in them completely, and we maintain that their positive impact in a neighborhood is often disproportionately large.

In fact, we’ve even coined a term for these sorts of tiny, hyper-local projects, which we are quickly becoming our specialty. “DEEP-ROOTS projects,” we’ve taken to calling them. We’re hoping it’ll catch on. And it’s somewhat unusual these days to find a fiscal sponsor who not only welcomes but also actively seeks out deep-roots projects. So if you specialize in the hyper-local, the tiniest of the tiny, the block-by-block, we’d love to hear from you.  Email us at, or read more about our fiscal sponsorship services here.