By Saba Long
If there’s one thing the Great Recession has taught not-for-profits and government entities, it is how to get creative in providing services.
Often times, crowdfunding and public-private partnerships are the tools bridging the funding divide.
From organizations like the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra using crowdfunding for an archives project to the city of Atlanta working with the arts community to launch Power2Give, we are becoming accepting of these seemingly unconventional ways of empowering our communities.
The Ashford Park Elementary School in the newly created Brookhaven has wanted an outdoor classroom and amphitheater for quite some time. At a time when even necessities are up of for debate, it’s not something the DeKalb Board of Education has put on a priority-funding list. Districts across the region are questioning classroom sizes and the amount of books to purchase.
So how can parents, faculty and staff make these desires a reality?
Mark Feinberg would say they should enlist the help of his startup Uruut, a crowdfunding platform with a focus on municipal and community projects. And they have.
Where its competitors serve as a funding platform for arts projects or innovative widgets, Uruut is focused on the municipal and not-for-profit space giving their projects a great chance of success through a three-tier contribution platform in that foundations, businesses and the general population can all fund projects of interest.
As is the crowdfunding industry standard, there is a clear funding goal and a hard deadline to raise the funds or else the project will fail. Also, each donor will receive a gift based on the donation level. In the case of the Ashford Park project, a level-three donor – a $50 contribution – will receive a thank you card from an entire class at the school.
“Ten years ago I began contemplating how our country could revitalize underfunded communities by giving critical projects a chance at success,” said Feinberg, Uruut’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Along the way, Uruut was born and our talented team developed an extraordinary tool that achieves this vital need.”
With just one inaugural project on the platform at the moment, Uruut intends to take the slow and steady expansion approach – similar to the Yelp model.
In a short period of time, the startup has established a strong group of validators, from an impressive advisory board to Atlanta business and civic leaders. One of Uruut’s advisory board members is Donovan Lee-Sin, a program officer at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.
“As a foundation professional, I’m confident these private entities will quickly realize that Uruut gives them a direct, meaningful connection to their local communities while increasing their brand exposure and social responsibility reach,” Lee-Sin said.
Eventually, Feinberg hopes to see Uruut as the go-to platform for a community sidewalk funding project in a neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, a large-scale public art initiative for a regional planning organization, or for a national project spearheaded by a major not-for-profit organization.
But Feinberg believes in Atlanta serving as Uruut’s first step in elevating the social business enterprise.