Notes from a conversation with LikeMinded cofounder, Lynn Luckow

by Abe Levine 

Using crowdfunding in ways we’ve never dreamed of is the trajectory for Lynn Luckow’s LikeMinded.  After 30 years experience in the nonprofit world and deep reflection on the critical question: “Have we made an impact?” Luckow is introducing LikeMinded to the world – and more specifically, to local communities.  A platform dedicated to crowdfunding local projects happening on a national scale, LikeMinded will assist organizations in achieving reciprocal goals of raising money and uniting local residents for community prosperity.

When considering participation in our democracy, voting and volunteering come to mind.  Yet, elections and good deeds may not fully engage the talents and assets of everyday people in action for social change.  In order to feel empowered, people need to be informed of where they can put both their sweat equity and financial support, in ways that directly impact their immediate surroundings.  By showcasing transformational projects happening in our backyards, the online stage is set for off-line action.  Everybody becomes a potential philanthropist and agent in local change.

By showcasing transformational projects happening in our backyards, the online stage is set for off-line action.

The world of crowdfunding is expansive, with platforms enabling $8.5 billion to be transferred from donors to recipients in the U.S. in 2015.  What positions LikeMinded as a leader in the world of digital crowdfunding is: First, its charge to focus on efforts that are hyper local, Second, its built-in design to initiate partnerships for the common good.  In addition to raising the general public’s awareness of quality projects, LikeMinded vitalizes an organization’s push to expand their support network – across business, government, and all regions of of civil society.  Facilitating these unanticipated partnerships strengthens a shared effort towards community resilience and interconnectedness.


While bolstering great projects LikeMinded proposes to unearth the social capital needed to build a people-powered movement that “un-silos” civil society.   The goal is clear: revolutionize civic participation to catalyze collective impact.  In this process, the ordinary person reconsiders her relationship in community.  Through direct connections formed between trendsetting organizations and the people in their nexus, changemakers will be inspired to use the LikeMinded crowdfunding platform to reimagine the place they call home.

Image taken from Buzz Canuk: <;.  September 29th, 2015.

Feature Image taken from JotFlow: <;.  September 29th, 2015.



The Future of Crowdfunding

At the 2015 Bay Area Bold conference held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Dr. Manuel Pastor, professor and PERE director at USC, recalled a conversation with his son wherein he asked, “Joaquín, why are you going to study music?  After thinking, his son replied, “I want to make beauty with my friends.”  With global revenue expected to reach $34 billion in 2015, crowdfunding is enabling the co-creation of beauty.  As a tool for democratic philanthropy, it has the potential to localize investment, improve stewardship of the commons, and make public the blueprints for empathetic innovation.

cf3Unfortunately, the words “crowd,” and “funding,” don’t lead seamlessly towards feelings of intimacy. Yet, crowdfunding signifies the act of breathing a dream into the public sphere, trusting that it will be backed by friends and also by strangers.  This spirit and practice is  becoming ubiquitous, with crowdfunding campaigns launched in sectors of business, science, education, and so on.  Crowdfunding is a useful and powerful tool in that it provides a singular space to make an appealing pitch, which a broad base of potential investors can see.  Rather than rely on a single patron, artists, scientists, and thinkers can reach out to the masses.

Crowdfunding signifies the act of breathing a dream into the public sphere, trusting that it will be backed by friends and also by strangers.

Let’s take a look at a couple of real-time examples that rely upon crowdfunding principles. Rather than relying on support from major private donors, Bernie Sanders has banked on small donations from a broad support base, generating 26 million in the third quarter of presidential primaries.  Maybe your niece, Yessica will be next to crowdfund her campaign for class president and open that Crowdfunding (1)ice cream bar.  In 2010, an engineer named Cesar Harada, utilized Kickstarter to crowdfund a robot that could be deployed to clean up oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.  Crowdfunding, guided by particular social criteria and peer feedback, will expand access to knowledge that is both practical and powerful.

LikeMinded aims to carve a niche in the crowdfunding world focused on placemaking.  The praxis of placemaking seeks to unearth the  assets of a community that will lead to people feeling intimately connected to their surroundings and each other.  By seeking projects that center on place and establishing an online community to nourish them, we hope to enhance the social and capital investment happening in civil society on a local level.


Featured image taken from AAPIP- Building Democratic Philanthropy: <;

Subsequent images from Media Shift: <;, Bawart: <;, and Old Place/New Tricks: <;. October 1st, 2015.

The Future of Crowdfunding

The Crowdfunding Manifesto

Yes, it’s now a verb, a single word, and there’s a manifesto you should know about:

1. Your Friends Are Your Capital

Your social network friends and contacts can help you to raise capital.

2. Your Friends Make Your Dreams Come True

Any of your contacts can make a contribution, no matter how small.
Together they will help in achieving your every wish, project, and dream.

3. Your Capital Depends on the Number of Friends

Many contributions can build big capital.
The more contacts you have, the greater your chances of reaching the amount you need.

4. Your Capital Depends on Trust

Contribution doesn’t happen automatically. Even if you contact a large number of people,
you must still gain their trust, especially if you don’t know them personally.

5. Your Capital Grows by Word Of Mouth

Your friends can contribute by giving money, but also by spreading the word.
This will help your social network grow, and increase the probability of reaching your goal.

by Alberto Falossi, February 2010
From:, September 30, 2015.
The Crowdfunding Manifesto

Meet LikeMinded’s Other Half: The Entrepreneur, Andy Patrick

Andy Patrick is equal parts facilitator, techie, artist, and entrepreneur; in his latest venture, he is seeking to restructure the channels of change.  In discussing the history of social change, Andy and I hit upon two questions: Who determines what change looks like?  And what role does technology factor in?  

Andy has founded ten organizations in both for-profit and nonprofit ventures.  His experiences range from designing websites for artists and major corporations at liveBooks and Adjacency, to helping documentarians share their films worldwide, as the founder of FiftyCrows.  He has always found ways to use technology and visual storytelling to facilitate unlikely connections between people.  When he founded Streetwise, a magazine produced by and for the homeless community in Chicago, he was seeking to create a legitimate publication that readers would find appealing, while also developing serious writers and providing income – 75 cents of every dollar earned went to the people selling the magazine.

Andy views his latest venture, LikeMinded, as a means of localizing autonomy for social change.  “People spend a third of their lives in community.  They should get to determine the changes that will most impact them,” he says, adding “There are certain inventions in technology that are revolutionary, crowdfunding is in that category.”  Creating crowdfunded campaigns on LikeMinded will enable people to publicize the changes they wish to see, while also  breaking down barriers between nonprofits, government, and business to engender support for local initiatives.  The platform will also provide a forum and training ground for people to share stories and create dialogue about community vitality.

 “People spend a third of their lives in community.  They should get to determine the changes that will most impact them,”

“The beauty of all this,” Andy says, is that “It will give a wide variety of people the opportunity to engage with projects in their communities.”  With crowdfunding revenue growing exponentially, it is changing the way people invest.  Andy’s hope and my question is: how can LikeMinded change the way people engage with their broader community- its assets and the people who make it vibrant.               

Meet LikeMinded’s Other Half: The Entrepreneur, Andy Patrick

Spotlight on Playworks

Remember the good old days of recess?  Getting bullied, withstanding pure chaos and melting on the concrete?  Often thought of as a time of freedom and joy, recess far too often becomes the ground for reinforcing strife, exclusion, and instability.   Oakland-based Playworks is rebuilding recess for maximum fun, nationwide, and teachers are noticing the difference.   

playworks2Playworks, launched in 1996 by founder and Ceo, Jill Vialet, seeks to “Leverage the power of safe, fun, and healthy play at school every day.”  Schools frequently lack the capacity to thoroughly supervise and manage recess time.  Yet, if done correctly (with spirit and technique), students can return to their classrooms feeling included, motivated, and re-focused for the rest of their day.  Capitalizing on this time, Playworks is teaching youth social emotional learning skills and leadership through organized games and reflection.  A teacher at Grape Street Elementary school in Los Angeles says:  

“The bullying has stopped. The students are all engaged in one of the many choices they have to pursue during recess.  They resolve conflicts in class using rock-paper-scissors.”

Thus far, Playworks is in schoolyards in 23 cities, serving 185,000 students, another 275,000 through training services, and teachers have reported that they have recovered 20 hours in teaching time due to smoother transitions– trust me, as a former teacher and youth-worker, transitions are critical.  

Playworks is teaching youth social emotional learning skills and leadership through organized games and reflection.

Playworks in Southern California

LikeMinded has partnered with Playworks because of its visible impact in local,underprivileged, communities, as well at its broader capacity for transforming schools and learning spaces nationwide.  Not only does Playworks employ year-long coaches to lead games, it also trains youth and adults to be play leaders.    

Images copied from Copperview Elementary School:<> and Playworks: <>.  Sep 29th, 2015. 

Spotlight on Playworks

Likeminded’s Push for Vital Communities

A decade ago, LikeMinded co-founder Lynn Luckow initiated a conversation about storytelling in the nonprofit and philanthropic worlds.   Pointing to the role of civil society in generating counter-narratives, sociologist Robert Bella writes, “Civil society contrasts the public focus with the market’s material and private focus, and helps generate a public conversation and a richer quality of life.”  Luckow was advancing the place of community vitality in a healthy democracy and calling for success stories to be gathered as a strategic resource.

Luckow was advancing the place of community vitality in a healthy democracy and calling for success stories to be gathered as a strategic resource.

At this time in history focus on the local community as a critical site of change was not fully acknowledged.  However, emphasis on establishing vibrant, equitable, and sustainable communities has emerged alongside technologies of social media and crowdfunding. Neighbors are organizing community days, demanding interaction, and establishing a placemaking movement.  Yet barriers still inhibit organizations and individuals from working together to realize shared community aspirations.  
With critical input from advisors and through interviews and focus groups, Luckow determined that community-based organizations needed a platform to share stories of success and a streamlined process of fundraising.  Sharing stories creates a clearer narrative of what works and what’s happening, while inspiring action on a local level.  The mission of LikeMinded is to fund projects for the common good, while facilitating the partnerships that will enable shared impact that reinforces human cohesiveness.  

Through our crowdfunding platform, the pathway to funding quality projects is made accessible to everyday people (no more $500 a plate dry chicken dinners), and the much-needed 360º perspective of collective imagination is rendered visible. LikeMinded seeks to harness the power of crowdfunding, networks of support via social media, and people power to enhance local collaboration and retool American civic capacity across communities.   

Likeminded’s Push for Vital Communities