How One Nonprofit Got Warren Buffet to Invest through Crowd Fundraising


Warren Buffet Invests in Nonprofit IPO

What a great investment!

Fresh Look – Crowd Fundraising Trend

Crowd fundraising offers a huge new opportunity for nonprofits to acquire new donors and expand their base of support. Thus far it’s mostly been used for peer-to-peer campaigns, but one nonprofit recently employed it in a very clever new way. 

Let me tell you about Homeward Bound of Marin’s inventive strategy. They’re selling shares in their new venture – a village that will house and support formerly homeless people. But they’re not the kind of shares that yield a financial return. The investor receives an opportunity to participate in a singular project for social good. Something that will have immediate and lasting value for the community. Something that goes into building someone else’s future.

Starting to sound good?

Homeward Bound of Marin has created a nonprofit IPO. It’s not the kind of IPO (initial public offering) you’re thinking of.  What kind is it?

It’s an Immediate Philanthropic Opportunity. To do what? To end the cycle of homelessness. How brilliant is this? Every word is impactful. “Immediate” speaks to what many donors care most about. Making sure their philanthropy goes directly to affect social change. Making something happen today, when and where it is most needed. “Philanthropic” speaks to community and doing something together for the common good. It reminds us we’re all in this together.  “Opportunity” speaks to giving folks a chance to make something possible.

Plus this IPO plays into one of Robert Cialdini ’s key principles of persuasion. People are inclined to follow those they perceive as expert authorities. Homeward Bound of Marin asked Warren Buffet to buy the initial share for $50, and he did!  They’re now asking others to consider joining this “unique shareholder club” by investing at the same level as Warren. As they note in their awesome campaign video on YouTube: “It’s not often you can say that!” 

Crowd fundraising plays well to a crowd.  Hah! As obvious as that sounds, not everyone maximizes the opportunities this strategy offers for multi-channel promotion.  Homeward Bound of Marin is an exception. They’re promoting the campaign like true entrepreneurs:

  • Their video has an annotation link that enables viewers to go directly to their donation landing page on Razoo (if you want to learn how to do this go to Clicky Clicky: How to Add Calls to Action to Your Nonprofit’s YouTube Videos).
  • The video is also posted on their Razoo page to inspire those who may have been driven to Razoo through the organization’s website, print materials or other gateway other than YouTube.
  • They will also be raising funds offline to add to their total (something that the Razoo platform allows, which is one of the reasons they chose it).
  • They have printed a hard copy IPO Prospectus which they can carry with them on face-to-face visits.
  • They mailed the IPO Prospectus as an insert in their print newsletter, with a teaser story about the IPO on the cover.
  • They’re promoting the IPO on their Facebook page.
  • They’ve included information and links in their e-newsletter.
  • They’re working the speaker circuit, talking to local breakfast clubs, business groups and the like.

If you’re thinking about crowdfundraising you may want to check out How to Use Crowd-Funding Sites to Raise Money for Your Non-Profit by Joe Garecht. There’s also a book out called The Crowdfunding Revolution. Maddie Grant of Social Fish recently reviewed this book and presciently notes: “Moving forward, I believe 2013 will be a great opportunity for all people (whether you be a volunteer, entrepreneur, potential investor, policymaker, or donor) to explore the ways crowdfunding can move our societal goals forward.”  Is it time for you to take advantage?

Let us know if you’re using crowd fundraising, and how it’s working for you!

And by the way, don’t forget to thank your donors whenever and wherever you get them!  In a crowd, or all by their lonesome.  Research shows it will improve your fundraising retention by leaps and bounds.  Get your How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude guidebook here.  If you don’t find it worthwhile, just tell me.  I promise, I’ll be nice.  To your success!

Opt In Image
Get Clairification via email and receive free fundraising and nonprofit marketing coaching you can use!

As an added BONUS, you’ll get my popular “Donor Thank Calls E-Book + Script” for free.

About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. Claire,
    I would like an interview with you, and let you ask questions of me to ascertain how I can get more leverage from all that I am doing only for others. This doing for others has been going on for 45 years. The next step for me is to work among decentralized networks among the most unfortunate in our world. Children, refugees, the persecuted for their beliefs, the least, the last and the lost out among the sea of humanity. Please let me know how I might use Crowd Sourcing among the 3500 people in my database who are spread around the world. Your clarifications on philanthropy is inspiring and I am still trying to manage the challenge of dissemination effectively. Help!

  2. Great blog – thanks for the insight. I did look at the Homeward Bound crowdfunding page and it says they raised $3,560 online, $159,655 offline. Does this mean the crowdfunding element only brought in $3,560 online? Thanks Jen

    • Hi Jen,
      I asked Marin Homeward Bound where they are with this campaign. Here’s the response:
      Hello Jen and Claire,
      Yes, so far the crowd funding element has only brought in $3,560 online but we are taking a long-term approach and hope to have another push for donations once people return from summer vacation. Most of the online donors are new donors to us, which is great.
      Feel free to check-back in again if you have more questions.
      Paul Fordham
      Deputy Director Homeward Bound of Marin
      (415) 382-3363 x.211
      Check us out online at
      Or on Facebook at
      Support Oma Village with our nonprofit IPO

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge