Piggybackr: Crowdfunding platform just for youth

Jul 9, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Adults have Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Fundly as resources to raise money for causes or ventures, but until now kids haven’t had anything comparable. Kids generally don’t have the online bank account or credit card usually required to set up such accounts.

Boy on the computer

Enter Piggybackr.

Piggybackr is a new platform for your kindergarten- through college-aged kids to raise money for their specific cause.

Most of us remember doing some sort of fundraising as a child — walking door-to-door selling candy bars or operating a lemonade stand — to raise money for our sports teams or clubs. With the small margin for profit on items such as candy bars or wrapping paper, it can take a very long time to raise a decent amount of money for your cause. The new generation of youth fundraisers has a better option for fundraising that reaches more people and yields a better return. Check out what we learned about Piggybackr.

What is crowdfunding?

A relatively new phenomenon, crowdfunding uses the reach of the internet to raise money for everything from new soccer balls to seed money for new ventures. Crowdfunding has become a very popular way for people to get a project or a great idea off the ground, but kids and teens have been left with not much more than the lemonade stand for raising money. Piggybackr fills that void, with their efficient and easy way for young people to earn money for their causes.

Started with an idea

We asked Andrea Lo, CEO and co-founder of Piggybackr, where the idea first came from to create a crowdfunding platform for young people. “Piggybackr was inspired by an experience I had with my younger sister Chelsea who was 11 years old at the time,” says Lo. “Chelsea wanted to raise money for an environmental cause by selling bracelets for $1 each.”

Lo had a business background, and wanted to teach her sister about money, marketing and scaling her impact while helping her raise money. “So we brought her fundraiser online, and Chelsea raised over $400 but more excitingly, learned important skills like telling her story, communicating through technology, building relationships and achieving goals,” shares Lo.

After her experience with her sister’s campaign, Lo realized that while fundraising is a great way for youth to learn valuable skills, the industry itself had not changed for decades. “While crowdfunding has exploded for adults and nonprofits, kids are still literally selling candy bars,” she says. “And the barrier was that kids didn't know how to fundraise and didn't have a safe and fun place to do it.”

How much goes to programs?

Unlike selling magazine subscriptions or candy bars, there is a much higher percentage of cash donated that goes toward the specific project or venture. Many people are leery of donating cash to someone on their front doorstep, worrying that most of that money may never make it to the intended project. “At Piggybackr, close to 95 percent goes to the project — we just take a small transaction fee of 5 percent plus 30 cents per donation received online,” shares Lo. Kids are encouraged not to sell things, but to instead provide donors with value for their sponsorship. “Committing to volunteer for a day, writing a thank you note, or featuring a businesses' logo on their website — [these are] all low cost but high value items,” she adds.

Youth experiences

We wanted to hear from young people who had success with Piggybackr about their experiences. Eleven-year-old Zoraver exceeded his goal of $5,000 and actually raised $6,500 for a national nonprofit organization called Canine Companions for Independence, a program that enhances people’s lives with service dogs.

Izzy is a 14-year-old girl who used Piggybackr to raise money to send girls from all over the world to a retreat for Spark Movement, an organization she is involved in. “I totally set up my personal page and video by myself,” she shares. “I also sent out emails by myself, and offered my own special prizes. It was a really good lesson in how to fundraise.” While Izzy’s group did not meet their full goal, she would recommend Piggybackr to friends.

Safia is a 16-year-old girl involved with the Chicago Girls in Computing who had a positive experience with her fundraising campaign. “The designers did an amazing job on the interface,” she says when asked if she needed adult assistance in setting up her fundraising site. “Additionally, it was very easy to figure out how to get started with the to-do list. It gives you a sense of independence while still providing you with assistance,” she adds. Her group exceeded the amount they had hoped to raise.

Check out Piggybackr the next time your child’s group is looking to raise money, and use the power of crowdfunding to help them meet their fundraising goals.

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