Social Good

Crowd-funding for good

Positive Influence - October 2015

Nick, a lawyer based in Melbourne, devised this exclusive business model for OzCrowd after a frustrating experience working with other crowd-funders.

A young Australian seriously injured in a fall from a building in Prague, an epileptic two-year-old needing neurosurgery, and the song-writing of Goanna's Shane Howard.

Each of these great causes has a success story to tell, thanks to Nick Karolidis, the founder and director of the OzCrowd crowd-funding platform.

Nick's vision of providing a gateway to micro-investors through crowd-funding has so far helped around 850 social and business projects in Australia.

Crowd-funding is an online phenomenon that allows a business venture, charity, social cause or other project to achieve the financial backing they usually would not otherwise be able to obtain.

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To raise a targeted amount of funding, they can launch a campaign on the platform's website, to which visitors can pledge to donate or invest.

A crowd-funding campaign typically raise between $500 to £50,000, from hundreds - or sometimes even thousands - of relatively small individual pledges.

Unlike other platforms, OzCrowd deals exclusively with Australian-based projects. While funders come from all over the world, the platform will host only fund-raising campaigns that are Australian based.

Many large international platforms until recently refused to accept Australian campaigns, preferring instead to focus on overseas markets. Spotting an opportunity to correct a disadvantage and provide an important service, Nick set up and launched OzCrowd just over one year ago.

“Up until recently you had to be US or UK based to get onto the major international crowd-funding sites," he said.

“If you were Australian then you were told that you didn't meet the criteria for being considered for funding. I believe it was mainly about keeping their niche to the US and the UK.

“Then the major sites started accepting Australian causes. But the problem as I saw it was that they weren't getting any major exposure on those platforms. If you've, say, 100,000 US-based projects, it made it very hard for Australian projects to stand out and be found by Australian potential investors, who might be more likely to pledge to them."

The home advantage of OzCrowd is that it gives greater exposure and appeal to local and community-based campaigns.

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One of the platform's best-known campaigns gained international media coverage. It involved a 21-year-old traveller from the Sunshine Coast who became stranded with terrible injuries in a Czech Republic hospital after falling three storeys from his hotel window.

Despite having multiple broken bones, lacerations and other damages, doctors refused to treat Jordan Darney after his travel insurers, Southern Cross Travel Insurance, turned down his claim.

“We're changing quite a few lives," said Nick. “It makes the daily grind quite enjoyable."

In desperation - having used up their savings, hit their credit card maximum and even drawn on their superannuation, in order to pay for his medical expenses - Jordan's family turned to OzCrowd.

The 'Bring Jordan Home' campaign succeeded in raising more than $36,000 – way above the target of $10,000 – to pay for medical assistance so that he could be flown home to Australia. Most of the pledges ranged between $15 and $500, with many coming from the community around his hometown of Marcoola.

With $4.6 million pledged through OzCrowd up until June 2015, Nick's initiative has now helped thousands of Australians achieve their dreams, help their loved ones or improve their local communities.