Meet Dawn, our new Cleveland Action Strategist!

As our beloved colleague Indigo moves on from her role at ioby, we’re excited to welcome Dawn Arrington as our new Cleveland Action Strategist! She brings her own big shoes to the role, and has no shortage of big ideas for her city. Service is in Dawn’s DNA and she’s ready to get to work.

“My mom, my step dad, my father, his twin brother, my uncle, and several cousins all served in the military in one capacity or another,” she says. “I don’t think everyone needs to serve that way, but I do believe that we all have a duty as residents of a place to maintain and contribute to it. That was instilled in me at an early age.” It’s an ethic that she’s stuck to throughout her life. Continue reading Meet Dawn, our new Cleveland Action Strategist!

How to fundraise for racial justice projects

Fighting for racial justice can be daunting. We know it can sometimes make you feel like tearing your hair out, because sometimes it makes us feel that way too. But like you we at ioby remain firmly committed to racial justice. We’re also committed in our belief that everyday people can play a BIG role in tearing down systems of injustice, especially because we’ve seen so many people do it; people like Samaria Rice, Amanda King, and Leah Lewis.

Many of the resident leaders we work with live in neighborhoods that have endured decades of structural racism and other forms of oppression, from redlining to police violence. And when you’re faced with such tremendous structural racism, coming together to build something positive using your community’s collective resources can help reclaim power and be an act of healing. Continue reading How to fundraise for racial justice projects

Why asking for donations is community organizing in disguise

The work of community organizing is complex, difficult, and vitally important. It is also something that anyone—even those of us without degrees, special training, or loads of experience—can take part in, wherever we live.

The twenty-first century’s most famous community organizer so far might be former president Barack Obama, whose experience in the field helped make it cool for a new generation of changemakers. Saul Alinsky, known to many as the founder of modern community organizing, helped low-income communities across the U.S. band together to improve living conditions in their neighborhoods, offers another example.

But while the luminaries of community organizing deserve their due and have helped move the needle on critical issues, equally important is the community organizing happening in your neighborhood. It may not make front page news, but it’s just as important. It’s local, it’s grassroots, it can bring meaningful change to people on their own terms, and you–yes you–can do it! And ioby is here to help.  Continue reading Why asking for donations is community organizing in disguise

Amazing neighborhood projects by, for and all about kids

It’s a well-known fact that kids rule. They’re curious, energetic, and won’t bore you with small talk. Kids come up with great ideas. They’re often refreshingly (and embarrassingly) honest. They tend to prioritize the best things about living: family, friends, food, fun, and fuzzy little creatures.

With all this zest for life, it makes sense that kids have played a starring role in many great ioby projects: as leaders, co-designers, and participants. Who better to be at the forefront of positive change than the people who stand to benefit from it the longest?
Continue reading Amazing neighborhood projects by, for and all about kids

Ten Year Stories: Roundhouse Revival

In some ways, Memphians’ shared history is hidden underneath the Mid-South Coliseum’s grand dome that once proudly proclaimed the home of the Grizzlies and the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. Though some of its grandeur has faded–mold and asbestos lurk in the building that’s been shuttered since 2006–if you ask any Memphian about it there’s a good chance they have fond memories of the coliseum.

“One of the things that really touched people about the Coliseum almost more than anything,” says Roy Barnes, President of the Coliseum Coalition, “even more than Monday night wrestling or Larry Finch leading the state Tigers to the national championship in 1973, which are of course very important, is that so many people graduated in that building. Whether it was Memphis State, Christian Brothers University, or high schools all over the region–it wasn’t even just Memphis high schools. It was a launching pad for people moving from their past to their future, literally.”

Barnes heads the Coliseum Coalition, a group of Memphians who came together in 2015 committed to that vision of the Mid-South Coliseum–a Coliseum that hosts precious memories for countless Memphians and a Coliseum that, in their vision, still had more to share, if only it had the chance. Continue reading Ten Year Stories: Roundhouse Revival

Why do crowdfunding campaigns fail?

All the buzz surrounding crowdfunding can make it seem like some kind of magical cash machine: put your idea online, tweet a few times, and watch the money roll in. What could be so hard about that? Everyone’s doing it!

It’s true that there are many thousands of active crowdfunding campaigns online at any given time, but plenty of them will fail to reach their goal. The last time we checked, Kickstarter’s full-funding success rate was about 40 percent; Indiegogo’s was about 12 percent. ioby’s? We’re sitting pretty at 80 percent!

We think our project leaders are so successful because with ioby, you won’t be tempted to just set up a page and let the money roll in (because trust us, it won’t). We provide the coaching and support for you to plan, build, and market your own campaign both on and offline to build donor interest and trust. Then (and only then) you’ll see the Benjamins.

Of course, any crowdfunding campaign can fall short of its target. In the past decade, we’ve supported over 1,600 local leaders in raising over $5 million to improve their neighborhoods. But between those many awesome successes, we’ve noticed some common missteps made by campaigns that don’t hit their mark. Fortunately, these gaffes are all avoidable. Continue reading Why do crowdfunding campaigns fail?

Small budget projects, BIG impact

What can you do for $500 or less?

$500 may not seem like a huge amount of money, but in the 10 years we’ve been helping local leaders fundraise for community projects we’ve seen just how much of an impact even small budget projects can make. There’s a reason the phrase “throwing money at the problem” has developed a negative connotation, after all. At the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of how your project gets done. Here are a few of the top low-budget best practices we’ve learned from our local leaders in the past decade.

Continue reading Small budget projects, BIG impact

Tactical urbanism, the Memphis way

“Memphians don’t always do well with rules,” explains lawyer and city planner Tommy Pacello. Memphis-raised, he left for college and was drawn back to join the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, an effort funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to generate neighborhood economic vitality and reduce gun violence among youth. “The city’s got this grit and soul and texture to it that comes from being a river town, I think. It’s part of our DNA as Memphians.”

But that grit and that soul, in a city that faces its share of systemic challenges, haven’t always found creative outlets. “For many years,” says Pacello, “we had lived in an environment where people felt somewhat stifled. Felt they had to wait on other people to do things for us, to find the silver bullet.” For a community to see itself as dependent on slow-moving government, or on anyone, for positive change, safety, and cohesiveness, is deeply demoralizing. Something had to give.

Continue reading Tactical urbanism, the Memphis way

5 ideas to crowdfund money (and more!) for your school

Utter the phrase “school funding” and—whether you’re among friends, strangers, or just querying the internet—you’re likely to incite a storm of opinions.

Public or private, from pre-K through 12th grade, in rural communities and urban, the subject of paying for education in America has always been a complex one. In the past year alone, declining government support, teacher strikes, and systemic funding inequalities have made headlines across the country.

What to do about it all?

ioby doesn’t have all the answers, of course. But one thing we do know is that teachers, students, parents, administrators, and local nonprofits all have the power to rally their communities and raise the support they need to bring real, tangible, positive change to their schools. And we can help.

Continue reading 5 ideas to crowdfund money (and more!) for your school