We partner with public schools at the administrative level, helping to connect them with interested donors to fund education-based improvement projects.
It’s simple, schools create an online profile on our website, howdowe.org, and post projects to their profile.
Backers can give donations to these projects and be kept up to date on their progress, from start to finish. Additionally, half of all funds raised here will go to school improvement projects in the Chicago-land area!
Breakdown and use of funds: Total $50,000
$25,000: Set aside for future school projects. These funds will go directly to public schools in the Chicagoland area to help them get a jump start on their funding needs for projects. Types of projects that would be supported include, but are not limited to, use of green energy technologies, arts & theater programs, school technology upgrades.
$13,000: New website functionalities.
Bridging the gap between donors and schools does not stop at the creation of a platform to showcase the projects. These funds will be put to use in adding new functionalities to our platform, ones that incentivize donors to contribute and to make it easier to share their contribution with their own personal networks.
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$6,000: Project marketing and awareness. It’s important for us to be able to get the word out on the projects that are displayed on our platform. This $6k would be put toward a geo-oriented targeted marketing campaign focusing on Chicago. This would include ad placements on the “L” trains in Chicago.
$6,000: UI & UX Web Development: Our platform has to be easy-to-use, for both schools and donors, so a significant portion of the funds will go toward improving the user experience design and user interface design.
A recent college graduate/military veteran and his lifelong friend from the finance industry, united in their vision to improve the American education system. Brian and Mike believe that regardless of the financial condition of a school or its district, school administrators should have the opportunity to be transparent about opportunities that would improve the learning environment for students, and likewise, members of the public should be able to easily find these projects and support them if they wish to do so. By partnering with public schools at the administrative level, schools can fundraise for improvement projects of a larger scale, projects that can create efficiency and have a bigger impact on students, teachers and members of the community.
After seeing a public school in disrepair, and learning that it had been in that condition for over two years, Mike approached Brian to start a website that connects public school projects with members of the community (and the country) that care about education and want to make a positive impact on the ground level. Brian, fresh out of the military and pursuing a bachelor’s degree, saw this as an opportunity to truly help people, and give back to communities across the country. They got to work.
INTRODUCING HOWDOWE, INC.
Started in 2015, HowDoWe, Inc., is an organization dedicated to improving the value of a public education by providing public schools with the ability to spread awareness about, and raise funds for, capital projects that improve the learning environment for students. We believe that as federal, state and local governments work toward balanced budgets, communities and businesses alike should still be able to support the education of today’s students. We also understand that donors should have a choice in the types of projects they feel should be funded, and should rest assured that their money goes to the cause of their choosing.
Our easy to use platform, HowDoWe.org, allows school administrators to make an online profile, and post projects to their school profile to receive funding. Individuals, small businesses, and corporate backers can visit the website and make donations to the schools and projects of their choosing. After a donation is made, backers receive a receipt via email that can be used as a reference on their individual tax returns for potential deduction (depending on their individual tax-related circumstances). Once the project funding deadline is reached, schools receive the funds that have been collected on their profile and can begin work on the project. Backers are kept up to date on the progress of these projects to see how their money is being put into action. HowDoWe only charges a small transaction fee of 8% (8 cents on the dollar) per donation, which is used to cover operations and administrative expenses.
Check out the schools and improvement projects on our platform here!
No other fundraising platform provides this level of exclusivity for school administrators, and simplicity for donors seeking to improve and support public education projects. By aligning with schools on the administrative level, we are able to coordinate on capital projects of a larger scale, ones that can have a drastic impact on the students and the community.
For example, with more energy efficient facilities, budget pressures can be reduced at the state and local level, and funds can be re-allocated to other areas in need of assistance. By improving the learning environment for students, teachers are empowered, student GPA and graduation rates could rise, and crime rates could decline. And on the whole, the community could flourish with an improved education system, tax dollars could be applied more efficiently, property values could rise, and so on.
We have made amazing progress over the past year building our online platform, aligning with public schools in Chicago and attracting groups of backers to rally in support of our cause. But as we launch with our first group of schools, we are in great need of funds to make improvements to our website, and ultimately support a rapid increase in the number of backers and schools using our platform. The money collected here would allow us to expand our reach, attract new schools and donors, and allow us to keep our transaction fee as low as possible.
Half of all funds raised on IndieGoGo will be set aside for new school projects that are added to our platform. In other words, half of all funds raised here go directly to schools! By having money to help schools get started, they are attracted schools to the platform, as it gives them the much-needed jump-start to get their projects funded. It also allows us to give more options to the backers, as we want them to be able to find projects with which they can identify. The remaining funds will go toward our website, adding new functionalities to make it easier for both donors and schools to sign up and share project information.
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Perk: We understand that backers that support us in our efforts to improve our platform also care deeply the advancement of America’s public education, and that deserves recognition. So every backer that gives $75 or more will have their choice to have their names displayed in a special recognition section on our website, howdowe.org, listed as a supporter. At this stage in our business, $75 dollars can go a long way for us, and we want to make sure that the people that support HowDoWe, and public education, get the recognition they deserve.
Michael Anderson – President & Co-Founder
Michael Anderson is President and Co-Founder of HowDoWe, Inc. Mike’s background is in finance and marketing. Over the past four years, Mike has led the Corporate Access function of an investment bank and served as the Head of Marketing for an Investor Relations consulting firm in downtown Chicago. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business, as well as Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Finance and Management from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.
Brian Letzter – Vice President & Co-Founder
Brian Letzter, Vice President, and Co-Founder, served more than three years in the United States Army as a Cavalry Scout. He has served one tour overseas in Iraq and was honorably discharged from service in 2013 at the rank of Specialist. Brian holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Entrepreneurship from Illinois State University. He saw HowDoWe as an opportunity to continue to serve others and apply his background in entrepreneurship.
RISKS & CHALLENGES
Provided that our primary goals are to partner with public schools to identify improvement projects and then to attract donors to support these projects, our risks/challenges can be broken down into two categories School-related risks and Donor-related risks.
Larger public school programs, for good reason, have more stringent processes in place that dictate how fundraisers are to be conducted. Luckily, thus far in our interactions with schools, we have not found our processes to be in violation of any of these guidelines. It is possible that we may run into school systems that may have fundraising protocols that contradict with our funding procedures. For instance, schools must have access to a school run bank account in order for donor funds to be properly delivered. Schools must be able to access these accounts to pay for the execution of the improvement project for which the funds were raised. If funds are not accessible to schools on an individual level, it can slow down the progress of the project, or even prevent us from being able to deliver the funds. Again, in our communications with schools, though, each seem to be open to the idea of creating new pathways to make sure that funds can be received and allocated to the school projects in an efficient manner.
Our platform is also designed so that all funds collected for a specific project are delivered to the school at the end of the fundraising timeline, even if the project was not fully funded. Schools, as they follow our project preparation instructions, create backup plans for the funds if the target amount is not reached. For example, if a school is trying to refurbish a library, and they do not reach their goals, their backup plan can be to use the funds to buy new books for the library. We realize that not all projects can be broken up into smaller pieces, and funded in parts if the full goal is not reached. As an example, large machinery like HVAC units might need to be paid for with the full funding amount. To combat this challenge, we work with each school individually to create sufficient back up plans that aligns with the benefits of the original project goals.
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Donors must always keep in mind that, although donations to qualified organizations like public schools and 501(c)3 nonprofits are recognized as being tax-deductible by the Internal Revenue Service, individual circumstances may apply and a qualified tax-professional should be consulted beforehand. HowDoWe oversees the delivery of funds from a donor’s credit/debit card to the bank accounts of the public schools, while only collecting a small transaction fee of 8% per donation. Donors are then presented with a receipt for the donation that may be referenced on their tax return.
As more public schools create profiles, and as more improvement projects are added to the platform, HowDoWe will have to work to continue to spread awareness and attract more donors to the website. To captivate the attention of donors at the onset, we will execute a large scale marketing campaign to attract media attention to our cause at the launch of the first posted school project. We’ve also developed a simple distribution system that makes students, their parents, and members of the local community aware of the details of the improvement projects being launched at the school, and invites them to be a part of making a positive impact on local-area students. In addition to these efforts, HowDoWe will maintain an active social media, news and blog presence to drive conversations on the issues of education reform, school funding, advancing the learning environment, and other related topics.