Causeway’s crowdfunders utilize the power of the community to collect funds, volunteer hours, and supplies to complete their social projects.
Campaign owner Tenesha Irvin crowdfunded materials and volunteers for her New Chattanooga Community Expo in Avondale scheduled to take place June 6, 2015 at the Avondale Youth and Family Development Center. She knew that she wanted to bring information and resources to her community in order to forge connections between Avondale and the rest of the community. “I just wanted to be that bridge for people who didn’t have that transportation to explore the city and bring those experiences to them.”
While Tenesha understood what kind of impact she wanted to have on the city, she was unsure about how to structure the event, prepare a budget, and pitch specific needs to community leaders and investors. “Those questions on the Causeway campaign application helped—‘What’s currently being done? What are you doing that’s different? What does your timeline look like?’ The application broke down my idea into more manageable pieces.”
And as she prepared her application, she felt more confident publicizing her event. “I realized I could break my event into four zones: education, career-readiness, income, and health. And I didn’t have to build each zone on my own. I could put other organizations in charge of that. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I can just provide that platform.”
Tenesha possessed the tenacity to both publicize the event and the tap into her wide networks to make the event free to the public. Her pitch to financial backers across the city was straightforward: “When one area of Chattanooga is dealing with crime and limited opportunities, that affects everybody. So let’s all pitch in and help with this one neighborhood,” she said. To her own Avondale community, she said, “I know there are a lot of great people in this community and I want to provide you all a day where you come and rediscover Chattanooga.”
Instead of feeling paralyzed by her own doubts, she confronted them. “My biggest fear was having [the campaign online] and not seeing anyone contribute to my campaign. When you take that risk, putting yourself really out there, what if it flops, then what? To address that, I kept telling everybody that I knew about it. And fact that the event was free put people’s guards down.”
She reminded herself that the reason for the event was to celebrate that “we’re all humans, no one is better than anyone else. These organizations are excited to be a part of communities they aren’t normally a part of. It’s going to be an interesting, diverse experience for everybody.”