& Co. [VIDEO] featuring Jennifer Allen and Leslie Rich about innovative crowdfunding


Visiting & Co. in week five are Jennifer Allen and Leslie Rich from ioby, which stands for "in our backyards." ioby has been giving local leaders the tools they need to build real, lasting change from the ground up. Their innovative crowdfunding platform connects leaders with funding from within their community. Kevin Wright and Joe Nickol, co-founders of Yard & Company, speak with Jennifer and Leslie about basic neighborhood needs, minority small business support, public space activation and more. Below are five takeaways from the discussion. 


With rising unemployment and inequities many families and households are simply struggling to put food on the table and pay the rent. While ioby has historically funded community building projects, they have shifted some of their focus to helping neighbors help neighbors during these tough times. Direct cash assistance to those who need it the most continues to be a big part of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Many of those struggling the most during the pandemic are individuals and business owners without connections to nonprofit organizations. While ioby has always offered to stand in as a fiscal sponsor to help make projects happen, stepping into this role is becoming more important than ever. Minority-owned businesses in underserved communities or individuals working to help their neighbors keep food on the table may not have a nonprofit partner locally, but in certain cases ioby can step in to help.


Local foundations and philanthropic organizations often have the same values as ioby and their grassroots partners. As these groups collectively respond to the impacts of COVID-19, pooling resources and creating match programs is becoming more important than ever. Larger nonprofits can provide matching funds towards ioby campaigns and community facing organizations can then help market and fundraise for community driven projects. This teaming of often divergent groups is creating powerful outcomes.


When the world gets uncertain, the attractiveness of investing dollars where you can see it at work becomes even more powerful. In that way, platforms such as ioby empowers all of us to be “citizen philanthropists,” driving the change we know our communities need possible.


Quite a bit has been written about the “new normal” and what that will look like when the world officially recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the conversation with Jennifer and Leslie, it seems as if there is some hope that investments in people and small but powerful projects could become even more prevalent following this crisis. This, paired with longer-term commitments of operational funding for community based organizations could help shape more inclusive results and resilient community strategies.

Register for the next & Co. discussion here.  

In partnership with Soapbox Cincinnati and NKY thrives, Yard & Company, launched video podcast series, & Co., focused on solutions, ideas and interventions related to the COVID-19’s impact on cities. Please share.
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