By LEAH DEVELLIS | PIVOT MAGAZINE MANAGER
Change Heroes is a social enterprise that has transformed the way people can raise money and change the world. The model is simple: 33 people come together and each contributes $3.33 a day for three months. After 90 days $10,000 has been raised which is enough to build a schoolhouse for children or provide clean water to a community. Change Heroes has built over 100 schoolhouses to date with no sign of slowing down.
Since the last time I spoke to Taylor Conroy (CEO) in December I learned that in 2013 Change Heroes was approached by more than 100 non-profits interested in partnering as well as several potential angel investors. While many startups might jump at the prospect of investment dollars, Taylor cautions social entrepreneurs from getting caught up in ‘dollar sign thinking’.
“I was waiting for a time when it was blatantly clear that funding would help us make a drastically bigger impact on the ground in the countries we work in.”, says Taylor. “Impact is the reason we exist – which makes taking funding on a lot more complicated than if you are just trying to build a company as fast as possible. Our deliverables are people impacted in a sustainable way – not just dollars thrown at charities”.
Change Heroes is disrupting the typical angel investment strategy by focusing on impact and seeking partners whose values and goals align with their projects. When asked what advice he has for other social enterprises looking for angel investors Taylor said: “Only take money from people aligned with your goals. If you take on cash as a social enterprise from people that only want to make money, then you are setting yourself up for disappointed investors and frustrating conversations. If it’s just for the money, it isn’t a fit”.
With this approach, Change Heroes has taken on three philanthropic angel investments without forteiting equity, though Taylor is quick to note that he is considering larger capital that would come with a transfer of equity, repeating his mantra, “if it will allow us to make more sustainable impact, we will do it”.
This made me wonder, aside from the element of ‘doing good’ is there money out there for social entrepreneurs? Taylor’s response was clear: “Yes. Tons of it. Philanthropists are leaning toward social enterprise more and more. Impact investment funds are popping up left and right. One of the greatest transfers of wealth in history is from baby boomers to their kids and guess what? Those kids care about the world in a big way. There will only become more and more money available. Get – In – Now”.
It is encouraging to know that opportunities in social enterprises are growing and that do-gooders are not being forgotten among the latest technology or product driven ventures.
These angel investment dollars will help Change Heroes reach their goal of funding 5000 projects in 20 developing countries and raising $50 million for non-profits in 2014. They are also working to enhance their model so that more money is raised and larger audiences are reached. Their campaigns focus on building schools, implementing clean water sources, and reducing the number of young girls involved in sex trafficking.
Change Heroes will also be bringing people that have completed successful campaigns to Kenya, India and Cambodia. “I get to watch people have the profound realization that they have literally improved the lives of up to thousands of people. That feeling can never be taken away, and is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. I love watching that moment happen – I think I am beginning to like it even more than having that moment myself… and that is A LOT”.
Congratulations to Taylor and his team at Change Heroes.
To find out more about Change Heroes and how to make a massive impact on the world go to www.changeheroes.com.