You need funding for your small business — But where do you start to find it? Fortunately, the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association is here to help. In its Canadian Online Funding and Investing Directory, the organization gathers a wide range of funding resources into one convenient spot. Whether you’re looking for $1,000 for your local coffee shop in Alberta or $1 million to develop a new financial technology, this handy directory makes it easier to find the right lender or crowdfunding platform.
Why Should I Use the NCFA?
You’ve probably seen campaigns from the big crowdfunding players, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe — but did you know there are hundreds of crowdfunding sites out there? While the more well-known sites give you access to millions of possible donors around the world, they also have more users clamoring for donations. In fact, as of February 2018, GoFundMe accepts more than 10,000 new campaigns every day. That level of competition can make it difficult for your project to stand out.
In contrast, with the Canadian Online Funding and Investing Directory, you can find business-specific crowdfunding websites like Labfundr, which is designed just to raise money for science research and outreach. Compare this to a general-use platform like Kickstarter, where you’d need to work hard to explain a complicated scientific product — before you even start to try to convince people to donate.
Not looking to crowdfund your business? The NCFA’s directory also includes loan providers, investment groups, charity fundraising organizations, and more. Whether you’re searching for startup funding or nonprofit fundraising resources, it can make the process easier.
How Can I Use the NCFA’s Fundraising Resources to My Best Advantage?
For small business owners, the NCFA directory is free and easy to use. Visit the directory website to see a list of current members. Every organization or website on the list is an NCFA member, which helps weed out spam. Because crowdfunding companies come and go, it’s a good idea to investigate each one on your own before listing your project.
If you know what kind of funding you’re looking for, you can sort the list by type:
- Equity portal
- Lending portal
- Service provider
Alternatively, use the "Base" category to find resources based in your home province. This is a useful way to find organizations such as ATB BoostR, which provides crowdfunding for local businesses in Alberta. Once you find a group that seems interesting, click the Site link to visit its website. The Canadian Online Funding and Investing Directory is simply a listing; you must apply or create projects directly through the funding organization.
This category of the Canadian Online Funding and Investing Directory includes standard crowdfunding sites. This is the type of crowdfunding you see on Kickstarter or GoFundMe, where people donate money to fund your project or business. You are not expected to pay back those investments, although it’s common practice to offer perks to your supporters. If your record label is producing a music album, for example, you might give a free digital download to each of your donors.
Portals are a great way to get fast online funding, particularly when your business doesn’t qualify for a loan. To increase your chances, use the NCFA directory’s Description column to find highly focused crowdfunding websites. You might choose ArtsFunding.ca, which focuses on arts projects, or Project Her Inc., which accepts projects from women-owned businesses.
On the NCFA directory, websites marked as Equity Portals link to equity crowdfunding websites. As with standard crowdfunding, these websites allow people to invest in your business. Unlike normal crowdfunding, each investor gets a share in your company. That means that when you become profitable, you must pay a percentage of your earnings to shareholders. In return, you get low-risk funding — if your business idea doesn’t work out, you don’t have to pay back the investors. One equity portal option is Vested, a British Columbia-based company that allows investors to contribute as little as $100.
If you prefer to finance your business with a traditional loan, the NCFA directory can also help. The Lending Portal category includes companies that connect small business owners to lenders. Some listings in this category, such as Lending Loop, are peer-to-peer lending marketplaces. This means that individual investors lend money to small businesses — so you can get a loan without going through a bank. Others, such as FundThrough, offer short-term loans to help your business manage cash-flow gaps. That means you don’t need to get behind on your office rent or vendor payments when you’re waiting for a big client payment to arrive.
Running a successful crowdfunding campaign can be harder than you think. Fortunately, the companies in the NCFA Service Provider category are available to help. This section of the directory is a catch-all for resources that can be helpful as you choose a crowdfunding platform, design a campaign, and figure out how to market it. Too busy to run a campaign? Companies like Seeding Factory can even manage your crowdfunding projects for you. Other service providers, such as Touchstone, help you get your company ready for funding. These companies can help with securities registration, legal compliance, and more. If you’re looking for high-dollar investors, but you’re new to financing, this kind of service can make the process less intimidating.
No matter where you are in the crowdfunding or financing process, the NCFA’s Canadian Online Funding and Investing Directory can be a valuable resource. From industry-specific crowdfunding sites to peer-lending programs, the directory is a wealth of information for your small business.