Crowdfunding for care ruck sacks for people on the streets this Christmas

I saw a great idea a few months ago to create care ruck sacks for people living on the streets, filled with lots of essentials. So during these cold months it will be things like scarves, gloves, hats, socks and items we probably all take for granted like toothbrushes, toothpaste, face wipes, notebooks and pens. And a Christmas card, with some vouchers in for food restaurants.

I did a leadership programme called On Purpose last year and my second placement during it was at JustGiving, to help launch their crowdfunding site called Yimby.

So I’ve combined the two things and am crowdfunding to raise money to create some bags. Our original target was £200 to create 6-7, at an estimated £30 each. We hit our target on day 1 and still had 29 days to go, so have increased it to £400 (which you can view here.)

One of the best things about it, has been people offering old ruck sacks to us. So we’re now suggesting to people that they don’t have to donate money, items for the bags would be great too.

We’re going to go out and give the bags ourselves and shall also donate some to a few homeless charities – but we wanted to actually give them ourselves.

I’d love people to do a similar project across different parts of the UK, to help even more people. So if you’d like to do one feel free to get in touch we’d love to hear from you.

The power of crowdfunding

As part of On Purpose I’m working at JustGiving on Yimby, their new crowdfunding community. Crowdfunding in the US is a much more crowded marketplace but the UK has it’s fair share too. From rewards based creative sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, FundIt to social good and civic ones like Crowdfunder, Spacehive and Yimby, to equity based sites like Crowdcube and Seedrs. There are even niche platforms like StudentFunder. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list.

In 2012, crowdfunding portals helped small business owners and individuals raise about $2.7 billion.  According to Massolution (which tracks the market) that figure was set to double in 2013. Was the recession and the government’s budget cuts the catalyst for this rapid growth, or was there a movement to create more good in the world? I hope it’s the latter.

There are now several banks and big brands even getting behind crowdfunding. is a crowdfunding pilot launched last year by the Dutch bank ABN AMRO’s innovation platform, Dialogues Incubator. invited interested parties to invest a minimum of 50 euros in five companies contributing positively to society – GreenGraffiti, Greenjoy, On The Ground Reporter, We Beat The Mountain and Yuno. The four-month pilot saw 3 companies out of 5 being successful.

Philips used Indiegogo last year to launch a competition where entrepreneurs battle for money for their product ideas. To be eligible for the $60,000 grand prize they had to reach a certain level of their funding goals.

In order to get a picture of the crowdfunding environment for 2014, Devin Thorpe in his Forbes article, spoke to some of the most prominent leaders in the crowdfunding world for causes and mission-driven businesses (in the US). Here’s my top 3 from the 10 he’s covered.

Rapid growth of crowdfunding will continue.
Amanda Barbara of Pubslush observes, “Crowdfunding overall is on the rise, driven in large part by entrepreneurial, artistic and philanthropic ideas. [My] prediction is that this growth will continue at least at the current rate, if not faster.” She goes on to say that Crowdfunding began its exponential rise around 2009. Google Trend data shows a correlating steady rise in social good beginning at the same time.

More people will make meaningful philanthropy part of their lives.
Robert Wolfe, CEO of CrowdRise, predicts, “More and more people will make meaningful philanthropy a part of their personal narratives on Facebook, in school, on CrowdRise and really in everything they do — not solely because the world is an increasingly selfless place, but because people recognize that giving back is cool and thirst for the experience of participating in something that’s fun and feels good.” He explains the driver, “Giving back isn’t just transactional anymore and it’s not just about making a donation. It’s about engaging, participating and being part of a movement.”

Crowdfunding will democratize philanthropy.
Lesley Mansford, CEO of Razoo, predicts that, “Amplified democratization of giving [will] make it easy for everyone to be an everyday philanthropist. Younger generations, especially millennials, are getting more involved with social good and philanthropy, and commonly prefer online giving through crowdfunding making technology critical to bringing generosity into the next era.“

It’s really interesting to see that banks are engaging in this marketplace to add crowdfunding into the mix alongside their core business. The financial crisis and capital requirements placed on banks made it much more difficult to offer funding to businesses and individuals. And the banks don’t want to lose out.

Danae Ringelmann Indiegogo’s co-founder feels brands are getting involved as “these campaigns let brands engage with their customers rather than just treating them as a transaction. The customers feel like they’re working alongside the brand to make something happen.” Or it’s a clever form of CSR to get the punters to help pay.

Crowdfunding isn’t just about the money as the 3 points above highlight. It’s about engaging, participating and perhaps most importantly being part of a movement. Will the sites which foster this spirit the most succeed…..we shall have to wait and see.

Crowdfunding empowers individuals to do social good in their communities and could help ease the pressure on government and councils to fix things. So perhaps one day our taxes could reduce and reliance on local government – a utopian ideal. Power to the people!

Hereos – Simon Griffiths from Who Gives a crap

There are some people in life who do great things and Simon Griffiths is one of them. My gorgeous friend Leanne Hammill works for the Loop in Australia and knows my love of social enterprise. She kindly sent me this as she thought I’d love it, and she was right. Great interview with the man himself.

Simon is a social entrepreneur, sounds good huh, wouldn’t we all like to be?

He’s the founder of ‘Who gives a crap’ and works in a team of three, with the perfect combination of skillsets (economics, product design and engineering). You can meet the team here. They wanted to make a difference and set up ‘Who gives a crap’, a brand new toilet paper brand. 50% of the profits go to developing countries, via WaterAid, to help provide better sanitation and more toilets.

They needed to raise £50,000 to be able to start the brand and put in a bulk order, so they did a crowd funding campaign. Simon sat on the loo at 6am July 10th, recorded via Google Hangouts, so it was all live streamed and didn’t get off until the £50,000 had been raised. Put your money where your pants are (sorry had to.)

They successfully raised £60,000 in fact and are hoping to corner the business market for bulk orders.

They won a bunch of business plan awards and spent two years perfecting the product and viable business model. What a bloody brilliant project.


American Bear Film – an adventure in the kindness of strangers

American Bear Film sticker

I stumbled across American Bear a few months ago and can’t wait to see their film at the end of this year. Sarah and Greg travelled the country for 60 days, relying on the kindness of strangers. They did a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. Their belief: the power of the individual as the greatest resource for generating change in the world, starting with simple acts of kindness.

I’ve been in touch with Sarah and they really are great people, she kindly sent me some stickers from the US. I think I’ll create a little badge for my blog from it.

They have a lovely section on their site where you can email stories about kindness under ‘Your Voice’, they’re hoping to create a movement around acts of kindness, so get involved.


Buzzbnk a new way to do good

A few months ago I went to a Responsible Business event at the Design Centre in Islington. I met some great people and one of those was Theresa, who’s the CEO and Co-Founder of Buzzbnk, who’s an amazing lady.

From this event I checked out their site to see what it was all about. Essentially it’s a great way to help communities and projects which you may be interested in supporting. Buzzbnk is one of the first crowd funding platforms in the UK but they’re unique as they specifically support social enterprises, co-ops and charities. In February, they received a £50k investment from the Innovation in Giving Fund, managed by Nesta. The fund backs innovative ideas for increasing volunteering and charitable giving.

Hackney PiratesThrough the Buzzbnk site I saw the Hackney Pirates venture and pledged some money – £100 as it’s something I’ve been looking to get involved in for years. I was invited to the Hackney Pirates t-shirt launch event and got to meet the kids. It’s such a good way to donate money, to something you feel passionate about.

It really does create a two-way process and as Buzzbnk describes ‘that allows them to feel invested in your project and for you to forge strong links with your community.’ It’s more than just giving, it’s co-venturing.

I’m now volunteering with Hackney Pirates and look forward to working with them in the future and helping as much as I can. A big thanks to Buzzbnk for ‘introducing’ me.

If you’ve been looking for a new way to do good you know where to go.