Lynn Luckow is a lot more than his bow ties – and that’s saying something. The North Dakota native is former President and CEO of the Craigslist Foundation, and well-respected globally for his expertise in fundraising. Last week, he came to his homestate to share his latest venture: a crowdfunding platform called LikeMinded.
LikeMinded is a non-profit internet startup that aims to bring crowdfunding to the non-profit world, Luckow said. As he described it, it’s “the love-baby between craigslist and Kickstarter.”
“Here in Fargo-Moorhead, it’ll be a tool that people can use locally to create and fund local projects for the public good,” he said. “Whether it be… an innovation museum, or scholarships for kids, or community gardens, or the farmer’s market. It’s anything that helps the communities build a sense of place, a sense of meaning. That’s what this is about.”
Most projects on LikeMinded will be connected to a non-profit, and thus donations will be tax-deductible, Luckow said. The platform aims to raise awareness for local non-profits, while allowing community members to give back.
“I think that idea of the democratization of philanthropy is a whole new world,” he said. “Yes we need the angels, and the major donors…but everyone ought to be able to have an opportunity to contribute. Through crowdfunding, that can happen.”
Uniting a fragmented world
Luckow started building LikeMinded after he saw widespread disconnection in the non-profit world. A retreat he attended in 2000 illuminated the fact that the sharing tools in one community often don’t transfer to other communities. Yet everywhere, the problem was the same: non-profits need money.
“Right now, each non-profit is trying to get itself out there. Through LikeMinded they can collectively get out there,” Luckow said. “You can come to see one project, and you’ll see another project right next to that. The tendency will be to fund more than one project, for most donors. They can say, ‘Oh wow I didn’t know this existed.’”
This, Luckow said, is a phenomenon he calls amplification. An individual story from a non-profit may go unheard, he said. But through a larger, more-connected platform, that story becomes amplified.
LikeMinded is being built out by Luckow and his business partner, Andy Patrick. Luckow brings his experience as former President and CEO of Craigslist Foundation, Senior Advisor for Kinsey Institute and Noyce Leadership Institute, as well as years of serving on numerous non-profit Boards (including the National 4-H Council).
Patrick is a serial entrepreneur, and part of the original team that built the first e-commerce websites for Apple, Patagonia, Nordstrom, and others. It’s their combined expertise that gives Luckow confidence that they can make this happen, he said.
Coming soon to Fargo and the world
LikeMinded is slotted to launch by the end of this week. It comes at a good time, Luckow said, seeing how crowdfunding is on the rise on the U.S. Last year in the U.S. alone, 8.5 Billion was raised, he said. People want to give, he said – it’s just a matter of making them aware of the opportunities.
“Everything is in sectors and it’s hard for the sectors to collaborate,” he said. “This is a tool where we’re encouraging residents in the community, local government, and business, towards philanthropy.”
Like his bow tie, Luckow’s trip to Fargo from San Francisco last week was very intentional. Besides visiting some friends and stopping by his alma mater, University of North Dakota, Luckow sees Fargo as the perfect place for LikeMinded.
“I would love for Fargo to be one of the charter groups that uses this [LikeMinded],” he said. “I think because of all of the energy and activity here, and the connection between technology and philanthropy and non-profit initiative, it’s the perfect place to start this.”
Overall, Luckow sees the the idea of a healthy community as part of a much bigger picture – one that impacts everyone and everything.
“Bottom line is, healthy communities are the foundation of healthy democracy,” he said. “The more engaged people are, the better it is.”
As for the bow ties: when asked how he chooses them, Luckow responded, “Very carefully.” Most of the time it’s Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus. For his visit to Fargo, he chose a burgundy color embroidered with orange and gold.
“When it’s cold, use color,” his mother Minnie used to say.
Keep it classy, Mr. Luckow.
Stay tuned for LikeMinded’s launch, here.