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“Crowdfunding is not a new concept. For centuries, people everywhere have used the principle of collective action to help improve their communities.”

Interview by Mike Sullivan


Wayne Chi is giving opportunities to social entrepreneurs available nowhere else. Wayne created Ricebowlproject.com–the first crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs working on cause-based projects that benefit the international, national, or local communities. Ricebowlproject.com utilizes the benefits of group efforts where individuals from around the globe can come together to help fund a project. Projects must meet or surpass funding goals within a deadline or no money is exchanged. This is a great way to gauge demand for a new project, raise money, and promote awareness all with no risk.

Patrons of Ricebowlproject.com receive more than just a good feeling, they can receive pledge gifts created by the Project Initiators. These could be just about anything, a hand knitted scarf, research findings, perhaps a bag of the season’s first harvest.

Awesome idea! Crowdsourcing online has been around for a couple years now with sites like 99 designs and Namingforce, and for crowdfunding through Kickstarter did you base a lot of the platform for Ricebowlproject.com off of these platforms, and what makes you different?

Crowdfunding is not a new concept. For centuries, people everywhere have used the principle of collective action to help improve their communities.

In the ancient Buddhist tradition, for example, monks initiated projects to improve the well-being of their community. Without adequate sustenance, however, the monks could not fully commit to their projects. So the monks walked door to door every morning in an alms processional ceremony with a bowl seeking food contributions—mainly in the form of rice. As a collective whole, the power of the community transformed grains of rice, which alone could not nourish even one monk, into an entire meal that supported the monk and fueled his projects. In turn, the entire community benefited from their initial individual contributions. Ricebowlproject was inspired by this tradition of community giving.

What’s Different:
(1) First to integrate online crowdfunding with social entrepreneurs working on cause-based projects;
(2) Easily categorize projects by END CAUSE and by PROJECT TYPE;
(3) Powerful social media tools to better organize and promote projects;
(4) At least 1% of Ricebowlproject’s profits will be donated to Oceanic Preservation Society (producers of the dolphin killing documentary “The Cove”) through our partnership with 1% for the Planet.

Walk us through the process of getting my social-entrepreneurship idea funded through Ricebowlproject.com.

Getting started is easy. First, whether you have a clear project idea in mind or need some guidance, visit www.ricebowlproject.com and click on the “Start a Project” tab. You’ll be able to review our project guidelines and find a free Project Initiator Resource Kit packed with helpful tips.

Second, you will include the who, what, when, where, and why as you fill in your project proposal form. To complete it, you’ll add high quality videos and/or photos, choose a funding deadline (from 1-90 days), and a funding goal. Although the funding goal is unlimited, we recommend choosing a reasonably obtainable goal. Click submit.

Once your project profile is approved (we promise a quick turnaround time), you can either edit your content a bit more or launch your project. From then on, you should use our powerful social media tools to actively promote your project. Contact bloggers, media, and other outlets to get the word out. Each project gains traction differently, so expect to respond accordingly. Even if you have a great idea, it won’t raise any money or awareness if you don’t actively promote it. Ricebowlproject helps amplify your cause, leverage your relationships, and fully harness your gumption so you can break through the barriers of entry to make a positive change.

You are calling users to action by asking them to submit a project for the August 1 launch date. What is the goal number of projects to have up for that date, and how do you plan to initially drive traffic to the site?

For our August 1st soft launch, we will launch several quality projects that underscore our mission in providing a platform for social entrepreneurs. We will take a bottom-up approach to initially drive traffic to Ricebowlproject. This means contacting a blend of relevant media outlets, bloggers, and the social media contacts available to both Ricebowlproject and our initial Project Initiators. Just like each project featured, Ricebowlproject is starting with a grass roots campaign. There is an open invite for all to submit project proposals. Just visit www.ricebowlproject.com and click on the “Start a Project” tab.

I see that you mentioned at least 1% of Ricebowlproject.com’s profits will be donated to Oceanic Preservation Society (producers of The Cove) through your partnership with 1% for the Planet. Share with us why you chose this specific organization.

Growing up in Hawaii and living right by the ocean in San Francisco, I’ve had a strong connection with the ocean. I used to cliff dive into the ocean by my house and literally swam with dolphins, turtles, and the occasional whale. Sounds too good to be true right? But that’s how connected we are with these animals and our environment.

Even though I was knowledgeable about the ocean, I had no idea dolphin killings were taking place until I watched the Academy Award winning documentary, “The Cove.” I felt punched in the gut, like someone killed my pet dogs. This shock of ignorance motivated me to plan a fundraiser for Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS). Though the fund raising logistics were a disaster, it led me to Ricebowlproject and my continued determination to bring a complete end to dolphin killings. This is why we’re committed to donate at least 1% of our profits to OPS to help end dolphin killings.

What in your background led you to starting Ricebowlproject.com and what people have you surrounded yourself with that have help make this site a reality?

Throughout my academic and professional career, I tried to help where I can. While an undergraduate at Georgetown, I had some experience working on closing the racial based poverty gap through educational development. After graduation and while in Cambodia, I was able to manifest my senior thesis on strengthening minority communities through educational development and a micro loan program. At Santa Clara School of Law, I volunteered at our school’s legal aid clinic. Of course, there are many other volunteer activities I participate in which have led me to believe in the power of collective action.

Ricebowlproject directly emerged from my logistically challenged fundraiser to end dolphin killings. Although I secured a great venue and terrific raffle prizes, I couldn’t properly gauge demand and funding success was restricted to those who could physically attend. My idea and motivation fizzled out and I soon realized the obstacles ordinary people face in doing good—from marketing to organization. I created Ricebowlproject based on the all-or-nothing crowdfunding model which I believe is one of the most efficient fundraising structures available. Ricebowlproject was designed to give all project ideas that benefit the international, national, and local communities a chance for success.

People who volunteer and care about their communities are the ones who have made Ricebowlproject a reality. There were a thousand reasons to quit and give up in creating this site, but the potential impact those ordinary folks can have served as my end goal. Technically speaking, input from my family, some friends, and my web developer helped turn Ricebowlproject from a concept into reality.

From a donation standpoint will you make any minimums or restrictions on donations or is it all up to the specific organizations seeking funding?

Each Project Initiator will have the full control of how much they want to raise and within what time parameters. In deciding their funding goals and timelines, each Project Initiator is encouraged to review our guidelines and download a free copy of our Project Initiator Resource Kit. Get started: visit www.ricebowlproject.com and click on the “Start a Project” tab.

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