Empowering Social Impact Programs with Web3: The Future of Philanthropy
Watch the episode:
- Web3 expands audience reach and provides new funding opportunities for social impact programs.
- The Black Women Network uses Web3 to help Black women entrepreneurs scale their businesses.
- Web3 and blockchain technology offer increased transparency in philanthropy and social impact.
- The immediacy of transactions and funding on Web3 platforms can accelerate social impact initiatives.
- Web3 allows for direct investments in projects and enables individuals to track their impact.
- The Black Women Network accepts both traditional and cryptocurrency donations, using tools like USDC for seamless transactions.
- To integrate Web3 into social impact strategies, organizations should invest time in learning about the technology and fostering connections within the Web3 community.
Read what we discussed:
Karl Yeh (00:00):
Today my special guest is Laurisha Fant, who is the leader of the Black Women Network, an artist, and teacher of Web3.
So today we're going to be talking about Web3, and I know the topic's a little bit complicated and there's a lot of perceptions, but we're not going to be doing an introduction into Web3, but Laurisha has a great course that you can actually take if you're interested. So Laurisha, would you be able to expand a little bit about that?
Intro into Web3
Laurisha Fant (01:01):
The Web3 course is called Web3 Creates Community.
It is about taking you from the beginning of understanding crypto, through understanding Web3, through understanding what a metaverse is, how to incorporate it into your particular field, and it takes about a week to teach because it's that in depth.
It's not about telling you where to put your funds, it's about really giving you the option to understand all of Web3 for what it is so that you can make your own decision as to whether you would like to incorporate or even not incorporate Web3 into your business, but at least you'll have an understanding of when you're interacting with some Web3 device.
Karl Yeh (01:51):
So let's get into how is Web3 and social impact connected? Because I guess on the face of it, they're two different things.
How is Web3 and social impact connected?
Laurisha Fant (02:03):
Right, Web3 and social impact are connected because Web3 is an expander of your audience.
So if you are already doing something, for instance with Black Women Network, we are very in depth about helping women.
We care about helping women with what's going on, we care about helping black women entrepreneurs, and we haven't always had the funding locally.
Well, in Web3 we have that funding.
So essentially Web3 has the ability to kick open the door to you having more people to hear your message, and therefore it can help with any social impact from building something to releasing certain information, as far as education. It really opens the door in that way.
Karl Yeh (02:56):
Can you expand a little bit on that in terms of, because I know when I think of social impact, I think of giving,
I think of volunteering, I think of the time.
But also when I think of Web3, and maybe the first thing most people think about is the crypto side and Bitcoin and Ethereum, but I think what they're missing is the blockchain technology itself, but also the ability to be transparent in what you're giving and opening, like you said, a little bit of those doors that a lot of the times you're stuck with in kind of a Web2 world.
Can you expand on that a bit?
What are the undervalued impacts of Web3?
Laurisha Fant (03:40):
Yes, so crypto of course is going to be your tool, but it's a great tool.
Think about, for instance, being able to be paid from someone across the world and not having to go through different forms in order to get that over to yours.
So for instance, I've had someone who needed some business counseling, but they were in a different part of the world, they had a different currency.
Well, they were able to pay in crypto and then BWN was able to provide them with said counseling very seamlessly.
So again, it's about using said tools to do what you're already doing.
I think the biggest misconception that people sometimes have with Web3 is that they have to suddenly become a profile pic or PFP junkie and start loving everything that goes on with these larger corporations.
But no, Web3 is all about you being included in it, doing what you are doing.
It is simply the next phase of the internet and you have the ability to track what's going on even with where funds are going.
So if someone says some funds are being transferred to a certain place, you can actually see said funds and then you can see their impact.
So it is very transparent. I know a lot of people talk about hiding behind a profile picture, but actually there's a lot of transparency as to where funds are going, at least when they're on the blockchain because the blockchain is like a big file cabinet.
So that's the cool thing about Web3 and how you can affect social impact and how you can see your money go different places.
Karl Yeh (05:36):
Well, I know in social impact, one of the hardest things is when you send money to any of these organizations, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, any other causes or charitable organizations, the tough thing is did the donation, let's say I donated a hundred dollars, what happened with that hundred dollars?
Where did it go? And all you get is a tax receipt and the reputation of the organization.
But I think the example that I had last year when I donated to the efforts in Ukraine, I could see on the blockchain that my donation went to the Ukrainian wallet, the government wallet, and then I could see it. And it took me what, less than 30 seconds to do that.
Less than 20 seconds.
Where some of these donations would take you sometimes months to actually reach the place just because of, like you said, exchanging currencies and then actually getting it to the people who then would have to exchange it themselves.
There's so many different steps, while on Web3, the transparency is high, but also the immediacy is high as well.
Laurisha Fant (06:51):
That's one of the most beautiful things for me about Web3. For instance, a lot of people think about Ukrainians.
I had a Russian friend as well, and she was not able to do her job anymore because she worked at university and that just wasn't available to her to do anymore.
So she was trying to get basic things and to eat and we were able to support her.
So instead of something going very round-robin or through different channels, it was able to go directly to her.
And that was really amazing because we were able to not only support her, but her mom as well was an artist so we were able to invest in what they were doing directly.
So to be able to see your funds go directly to something and you know it's helping that person, that's also so impactful.
And to see schools built as well, I've seen a school in Uganda getting built step by step as they get funding.
So that's really beautiful because a lot of times it's like you funnel something and then you never really get to see anything from it.
But because people understand that Web3, again, that's why Web3 Creates Community is the name of my course, because that's what it's about.
Letting people know, hey, I'm really here, this is me behind this and this is what I'm doing.
I'm not able to do it here because of whatever reason, but if you can help me from where you are, I can keep going.
So a lot of people who are involved want to show this is my progress.
So that's another great thing as well about Web3 and social impact, just having people actively showing you what they're doing and what they're creating and they're excited about it.
Karl Yeh (08:53):
So on that note, where do you think Web3 and the opportunities in business and social impact are going into the future?
What are the opportunities in web3 and social impact in the future?
Laurisha Fant (09:03):
I think that they will go very far if those who are participants continue to dream.
It can be as far-lived or as short-lived as you allow it to be and that's what I tell people when I teach them all of the time.
For instance, one time I was speaking to an engineer after giving a speech on Web3 and they were like, oh, there's no place for me in Web3.
What I do is just on-site.
And I was like, well, do you know that someone would benefit if they were in a different place that maybe they don't have engineers available if they heard information from you?
And he was like, yeah.
And I was like, well, that's something that could be in Web3. You could market that consulting, and now someone who maybe they don't have an engineer but they still have the ability to build, can build something more stable.
He was shocked, but I was very happy to help him be shocked because again, sometimes people are like, oh, I'm not into little pictures and things like that, but it's not just about little pictures. Art is very important in Web3, but also what's important is whatever you're doing.
So there's so many opportunities out there because you're already creating change as an impact maker. So take that impact and simply make yourself a new lane to reach more people.
Karl Yeh (10:30):
Well, speaking of impact, you are doing quite a bit in the Web3 and social impact space. So can you tell me a little bit, how did Web3 help you create social impact?
How did Web3 helped you to create social impact?
Laurisha Fant (10:41):
That's a great story.
Web3 has really helped Black Women Network and me personally, as well, create social impact.
Like I said, being able to invest in women across the world is something that I personally have been able to do.
Different people who have said that they love art and they've been making art for years, but maybe their local area doesn't support women doing certain things.
So I was able to invest in them.
Black Women Network has been able to invest in artists and help them to go further and go to different shows.
We had someone to go to a show in DC off of our investment. We have given to a different entrepreneur so that she could get circle time rugs for her daycare.
So it doesn't only affect that one person, but it affects the next generation when you're able to help. We have even been able to teach a lot of teachers. We taught 10 teachers about Web3.
They kept hearing about it in their classrooms and they didn't know what the kids were speaking about, but now they do.
So now they can actually help to provide good information that will not only help the children in whatever they come in contact with, but also to be cyber secure.
That's something that a lot of people skip over in Web3.
As as you are taking part in whatever you're taking part in, it's important to know how to be secure, how to be safe, what to do, what not to do.
So now they have that information as well and can do their own things.
So that's some of the cool things that we've been able to do in Black Women Network and with myself personally.
Karl Yeh (12:36):
That's amazing because I think when people get into Web3, you've heard so many stories about people being scammed.
There's so many different schemes and we've heard about FTX, and I think that's really important for someone getting into it where you have to be secure with your funds, with exactly whatever you're doing.
But understanding that security aspect, because I remember when I started Web3, there's so many different things, even joining Discord communities where you can get scammed in various Discord communities and so easy to do so.
So that's a big thing and actually leads me to my next question is, and you were talking about the Black Women Network.
Can you expand on what that organization does, how it started, and then how it's connection to Web3 and connection to social impact?
What is the Black Women Network?
Laurisha Fant (13:35):
Black Women Network first started as a group to allow black women a space to be able to talk and discuss entrepreneurial thinking, and then it grew because there were companies out there that said that they had funds for black women and the more we looked into it, their funds went to everyone else.
And so then the statistics came up of black women receiving less than 5% of venture capital funding.
And really there was no open answer to that. I started calling around to other companies. It was like I became the leader of Black Women Network before it was Black Women Network.
And so then I realized, okay, everyone encouraged me who was a member of the group, hey, yeah, you should make this into an organization because you're already spending time meeting with people about funding and about being the change.
Well, unfortunately, I haven't yet found that company that's established, so I was like, well, I can be the change.
Black Women Network can be the change.
So we became a 501(c)(3) and we have been helping people ever since.
We have been helping people, like I said, to get rugs, we've helped another organization to get some aprons because they teach a shop class.
So all of the children needed aprons.
We've been able to help artists, and we are helping so many other people even to understand different aspects of business from business pivoting, how to write a book, how to change directions with this or that.
So it's been really great to be impactful across the US.
We're based in North Carolina, but we help black women entrepreneurs across the US and we love to do it.
We are digital in our office and that's what helps us to reach. And so that's kind of what connected us to Web3.
Being digital, we were putting social media pages together and then we ran into Web3 and I was like, hey, can this be impactful?
One of my goals of Web3 was to get into it without putting a bunch of funds into it. So no marketing and things like that for the budget. We wanted to create impact and show that others may be able to do the same, and we were able to do that successfully.
So whether we sold poetry or photos, digital photos, physical art as well. So you can sell your physical art in Web3.
Consulting, we've been able to sell all of those things successfully in Web3 really with no problems and with a lot of support from the Web3 community.
Karl Yeh (16:37):
So is the Black Women Network, are the donations all via tokens, or is it crypto, or is it a combination of both?
And how do you let people know that there is an organization for black women entrepreneurs and yeah, how do you let them know if your marketing dollars are low? How does that work?
Marketing the Black Women Network
Laurisha Fant (17:08):
So one of the ways that we do let people know about our presence is we're very present. Just like I'm doing right now, we're on the internet and that gets to so many people.
So the internet is one of our main forums of being able to spread the news that we're out there. And as an introvert, I am okay with making myself a bit uncomfortable at times by going to speak to people.
Even in front of people, whether it be through speeches, whether they're on the web, or whether they are in person, because I want people to have this information because it's important. And as far as donations, we of course have received donations even through Benevity, which we're so thankful for.
But we also have received donations in crypto.
One of the main ways that we have done it is through USDC, which is linked to the dollar anyway, so it transfers over to fiat, which would be in our case the dollar, very easily without even thinking about it.
So we're able to move that over and then use it to continue creating change. So that's been amazing for us.
Karl Yeh (18:29):
There's obviously been a lot of negative press surrounding Web3, specifically about crypto and investments and so on.
So has Web3, while you've been talking about the benefits, has it been maybe a distraction or have you faced a little bit of backlash of using Web3 from your organization's goal?
Has the negative press around Web3 distracted your organization's local goals?
Laurisha Fant (18:50):
As far as it creating a distraction, it has not been a distraction because it has kicked open the door to funding for us where a lot of people said you needed to exist for this many years.
Web3 didn't say that.
It said, well, okay, so show us what you're doing.
And then once you show them what you were doing, they said, okay, here's the funding. I was shocked that it was "that easy" to then have the funds to do what I've already envisioned myself doing.
As far as any negativity, it exists.
There are bad things that exist out there, but it's all about how you do your research. It's all about doing research, getting to know people.
The same way that we're speaking right now, I would encourage anyone that if they're thinking about giving in Web3 to any organization, don't do what we're currently doing in Web2 where everything is this pretty speech, and then that's it.
Web3 opens the door to getting to speak to someone, getting to hear them directly.
And if you can't do that, think twice before you give to said organization because there's a reason why they have those blocks there. That's like the most I can say to that. And if there was another part of the question, please ask me.
Karl Yeh (20:28):
No, actually it goes into the next question, which is what is the single biggest benefit from bringing Web3 into your social impact strategy?
Biggest benefit of bringing Web3 into your social impact strategy?
Laurisha Fant (20:40):
Single largest benefit has been there are so many people that are already present in Web3.
It's not hard to find people to help. They're already right there.
And the really cool thing about the people that Black Women Network help, because we focus on black women entrepreneurs, is they already have a strategy even for why they're involved in Web3.
They have things that they're accomplishing and doing, so you're not getting anyone started, you're helping them to continue where they're already going.
So that has been, for me, the greatest thing about Web3 outside of, again, opening the door to funding that was previously, it felt closed off. Even if it wasn't, it felt very far away.
Karl Yeh (21:37):
How do you deal with the onboarding?
So for example, there is one of the barriers in Web3 is the amount of knowledge that is required very simply to get a wallet, to purchase your tokens, or even get involved in DAOs.
Mark Zuckerberg seems to make it a little bit difficult getting into the Metaverse at times too, and all the news surrounding it.
Are you finding that challenge of the onboarding? And I know for example, your course, it's a week long to really get into it, so how does that work for you?
Onboarding into Web3
Laurisha Fant (22:15):
When I am onboarding on the fly, what I let people know is learn as you do.
So, if you're interested in Web3, one of the first things that I would tell someone to do is to let your current audience know that you have interest in it.
And one of the ways that you can do so is... It's like you don't want to necessarily link to one group when you're speaking about Web3, but Twitter kind of holds Web3 right now.
So open a Twitter Space and let your current audience know, hey, I'm interested in Web3, and you will be flooded with information, good and bad.
Then one of the things that you want to do is if you would like to take a course to speed up the knowledge so that you understand what you are encountering, then take a course with someone like me.
Or some people have courses that aren't live, because I teach mine live. Then do that.
There's information even for free, just realize that a lot of the information comes from Twitter Spaces and a lot of people don't know that. So some of the info out there is wrong.
So you need to be in both spaces.
If you're going to learn for free, look on the internet for the things that are already there.
A lot of people don't know about it, but they have a .io website that kind of has a big dictionary of everything as they see it.
So use that dictionary, open Twitter Spaces, and talk to people. You'll have a lot of people just wanting to help you, especially if you're an organization that really cares for people or are creating change.
People are so open to helping and they're so friendly about it. So just be willing to talk.
Put down your corporate and pick up your community and your friendship vibes because that's really honestly what you're going to need there, and be slow to throw money at things to fix things.
This needs your time.
This doesn't actually just instantly need your funds.
Karl Yeh (24:34):
And well, let's go back to the social impact professional. Is there one simple step that they can take to bring Web3 or explore Web3 into their programs?
One simple step social impact pros can do to bring Web3 into their program
Laurisha Fant (24:45):
Yes. Like I said, be ready to learn. Be extremely ready to learn and be ready to be open.
Like I said, be ready to speak to people about what you're doing.
You don't have to take in anything new, as far as some people are like, ah, I don't like art, so what can I do?
And I'm like, well, you don't need art. You can use your own logo for something that you're putting out there.
So for instance, I had a teacher and they're like, well, I'm not great at art, but I want to do something with spreading information.
I was like, well, have you ever thought of putting some of your lessons into Web3 so that people who have homeschool or in different places can utilize said lessons to teach?
And they were shocked and they were like, wow, I didn't think about that.
So now they are putting their lessons into Web3 so that people can access them. It is all about what you're already doing.
And honestly, you're needed.
We don't need all people who only care about tech in Web3. We actually need people. We need the engineers, the teachers, the preachers.
If you have messages that you are preaching, put them on Web3. You will be surprised.
There are a lot of people, if you're dealing with mental health, so many people need help with mental health in that world.
And so it's like, do what you are already doing and create more impact. That's the thing.
More impact can be created through Web3.
It's not a distraction at all. It's all about just doing what you're already focused on.
Karl Yeh (26:26):
So Laurisha, we could be talking about this for hours, days, and weeks. If our audience wants to connect with you, maybe learn more about the Black Women Network, what's the best place to reach you?
Laurisha Fant (26:36):
Yes, please reach me on Twitter @therealbwn, and then you can also send me an email.
My email is really easy, it's email@example.com, so feel free to reach out to me in either place because I would love to talk to you.
We're also on Facebook as well, so if you see Black Women Network there, we're all over the place.
But please feel free, like I said, to reach out via our Twitter and you can see some of the things that we're doing as well, and some of the people who are getting to help.
So it'll be great.