Inspiring Young People to Lead with Our Crowdfunding Platform

Crowdfunding has exploded into the mainstream—doubling to an estimated three billion dollar industry in the matter of three short years.

Crowdfunding has exploded into the mainstream—doubling to an estimated three billion dollar industry in the matter of three short years. We’ve seen how crowdfunding has opened the doors and made opportunities for everyday people, from artists creating new films, nonprofits operating life-saving programs, and entrepreneurs building amazing technologies. We've also seen everyday people finding relief, like a bullied bus monitor getting money for a well-deserved vacation and the dying woman receiving her last wedding wish.

When I hear these heartwarming stories, I am often left wondering why we don’t hear about the power of crowdfunding more frequently healing and empowering the lives of students in schools and communities. Maybe it’s too boring and commonplace? Instead, we hear of the never-ending waves of budget cuts, with arts and physical education programs being squeezed, or how young people aren't adequately prepared for jobs, and the staggering statistics of youth unemployment. We need more than bake sales.

I started Piggybackr in 2011, to bring crowdfunding to young people and their communities and to teach them how to work together to crowdfund. These are people who don’t have the resources to film Hollywood-quality Kickstarter videos, the venture capitalist backing to manufacture sexy gadgets, or the ability to hire crowdfunding consultants with Internet marketing savvy (yes, people do that now!). But people of all ages and experience levels should have the right to access the capital they need and deserve.

We launched the world’s largest crowdfunding challenge—the first campaign that challenges young people nationwide to join in and show the world that they won’t be left out of the crowdfunding revolution. We are calling all aspiring entrepreneurs, leaders, and philanthropists to post their ideas, projects, and community needs to their networks of friends, families, and local businesses.

We’re calling it the One Million Leaders Challenge and we're challenging young people to take the lead and raise funds for their projects, ideas, and communities during this holiday giving season. You could be a student interested in funding a sports team or training to become an artist or musician. Or you might be a future entrepreneur or community leader. Young people ranging from age six to 25 (with help from their teams of adult allies) have nine weeks to launch fundraisers, and will be eligible each week for a carefully cultivated list of weekly prizes, some designed to help them take their idea or cause to the next level through mentorship or recognition. Someone will be crowned “Leader of the Year” and serve as a role model to other young future leaders.

Why does this matter and why now? A recent study revealed that more than six million Millennials age 16 to 24 are out of school and jobless. Six million! The scariest part of this is what this will do to such a large number of people starting their careers on such uneven footing.

So many successful people, from Martha Stewart to the CEO of LinkedIn, have said the best career advice given to them was that they were told they could do anything they set their mind to while they were still young. Confidence is critical. Having access to resources and mentorship is too.

So while it may seem glum in a time of limited resources, what’s exciting about this is all the opportunity there is to make a difference, solve problems, and take the lead. More than ever, we need to call on a new generation of young leaders! You—or someone you know—has the chance to take the lead, raise funds, and gain visibility for a bright idea, project, cause, or community project this holiday season.

For more about the Piggybackr One Million Leader’s Challenge

Photo courtsey of Camp BizSmart

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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