Gateway funding: Leveraging your crowdfunding campaign to win more money for your project

At ioby, we often talk about the many non-monetary benefits of crowdfunding for neighborhood projects. When local leaders crowdfund, they strengthen relationships in their community, build their own capacity to lead, and encourage the buy-in that creates lasting community stewardship, among other perks.

But there’s another important facet of crowdfunding that’s neither the money raised during the campaign, nor these types of non-financial equity. It’s this phenomenon: a successful round of crowdfunding has the power to attract other types of funding to your project.

Here are three examples of how this can play out:

1) Firefly Trail: Athens to Union Point, Georgia

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Last spring, ioby Leader Ivette Lopez Bledsoe led her fellow Firefly Trail board members in raising over $62,000 on ioby for the trail’s “Model Miles” project. On the heels of that success, the board successfully campaigned to get the Firefly Trail on the ballot as a project to be funded by a one-percent sales tax for local transportation projects (known as TSPLOST). In November 2017, voters overwhelmingly approved the tax, earmarking $16 million for trail construction.

Ivette says:

  • “We believe that our ioby crowdfunding campaign really helped elevate awareness for the need to have the Firefly Trail, thus influencing that it be part of the TSPLOST initiative.”
  • “When people open up their wallets and give, that speaks really loudly. Crowdfunding puts you on a stage for a time: people watch. … So, when we went before the project selection committee and the Mayor and Commission, our donors gave us tremendous credibility.”
  • “Crowdfunding is not a long-term fix, but it is a way of saying, ‘This matters to me.’ Like a kid who says to Mom and Dad, ‘I really want a car,’ and the parents say no. If the kid then goes and raises $3,000 for it, that shows they really care about it, that they’ll probably take good care of it, et cetera. It shows awareness, commitment, ownership.”

Read the full story of how the Firefly Trail leveraged its crowdfunding campaign to score millions in public funding.


2) Pollos del Pueblo, Brooklyn, New York

Local residents and business owners founded the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) in their Brooklyn neighborhood in 1983. Since then, they have grown to serve 10,000 people a year through six program areas. Almost 30 years later, they organized ioby campaign to transform a vacant lot into a hub for urban agriculture and egg-laying chickens. They called it Pollos del Pueblo.

In 2010, Sam Marks, then vice president of Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation (DBAF), learned about ioby at an event for environmental donors. DBAF had long supported community development organizations and green projects in New York City, but after learning of ioby, Sam saw a way to link the two. He suggested the idea of a matching grant, then spoke to several local development corporations, including CHLDC, about funding some of their projects on the platform. Soon after, DBAF committed a $13,000 matching grant for all ioby projects sponsored by NYC community development corporations.

In 2012, nearly 80 Cypress Hills neighbors pitched in to fund Pollos del Pueblo, and DBAF matched each of their donations 1 for 1. The result? All $6,286 needed to fund the project was raised on ioby at the same time.

Nuala Gallagher of CHLDC says:

  • “We would send out an email blast saying, ‘Your $5 is worth $10!’ That was really a great tool for fundraising.”

Sam Marks of DBAF says: 

  • “A lot of community development philanthropy is premised on the idea that low-income communities don’t have their own resources to bring to the table. One of the appealing things about ioby is that it has this crowd-sourcing, funding-generation element.”

Read more about how crowdfunding can attract private funding (and learn why matching crowdfunding campaigns is great for funders, too).


3) TimelyTrip: Atlanta, Georgia

When ioby Leader Binh Dam moved to Atlanta, he noticed that most of the bus stops downtown didn’t post route maps or schedules. Through his 2014 ioby campaign TimelyTrip, he raised $534 and recruited a team of volunteers to install temporary schedules at several bus stops. His good work attracted the attention of the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA), and helped convince the agency to form an official citizen group called MARTA Army, which empowers transit riders themselves to identify and address the system’s needs.

As a direct result of pressure by the Army, MARTA announced plans for service expansions, more security cameras, mobile-ticketing technology, and other improvements, and installed trash cans at 80 area bus stops. Then, in 2016, responding to this powerful display of resident interest and commitment, the State of Georgia awarded more than $30 million to MARTA for the installation of new signage, shelters, and other amenities at bus stops and rail stations.

Binh says:

  • “The fact that MARTA responded to me personally and encouraged me to pursue this opportunity really means that they’ve passed a maturity point where they want to try things out and be innovative.”

See a video about how Binh started TimelyTrip and leveraged the $500 he crowdfunded into $30 million in state funding for his community.

Getting Started

Now that we’ve shared a few examples of how crowdfunding can serve as a gateway to other kinds of funding, we’d like to offer a few complementary resources ioby offers to help local leaders take their projects from idea to reality:

Learn from a Leader

Want to start your own project but need some inspiration? This blog and video series profiles past ioby Leaders who succeeded in bringing more fresh food, active transport, green spaces, and other healthy improvements to their neighborhoods.

Recipes for Change

We reached out to leaders in community organizing, advocacy, planning, and more to ask their expert advice about getting a project off the ground. These how-to guides cover tons of ground, from getting acquainted with industry standards and definitions to managing skeptics.


Crowdfunding and Community Gardens! Crowdfunding for Larger Budgets! Crowdfunding for Nonprofits! If we haven’t done a webinar about it yet, we probably will soon.

The ioby Guide to Making it Rain

While the average budget for ioby projects is a few thousand dollars, many are larger. It’s great to set your sights high—your budget, and your fundraising skills, just have to rise to the challenge. This guide collects the wisdom of ioby leaders who have successfully raised BIG bucks: around $10K and above.

Other free guides

It’s all here! The ioby Guide to Green Infrastructure! The ioby Guide to Environmental Projects in Schools! The ioby Guide to Wintertime Community Projects!

Ready to start raising money for your good idea? Tell us about it!