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 emilydeg@gmail.com we’d love to hear from you.

Robin Williams – Mork’s lesson

Mork And Mindy
“Mork & Mindy: In Mork We Trust (#1.21)” (1979)

Orson: The report, Mork.

Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.

Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?

Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn’t help very much because then he can hear paint dry.

Orson: Does bed rest help?

Mork: No because I’ve heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.

Orson: Do you have any idea why?

Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they’re told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they’re told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they’re very old, they’re told not to talk to themselves, who’s left?

Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely?

Mork: No sir I’m saying just the opposite. They make themeslves lonely, they’re so busy looking out for number one that there’s not enough room for two.

Orson: It’s too bad everybody down there can’t get together and find a cure.

Mork: Here’s the paradox sir because if they did get together, they wouldn’t need one.

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. Seeds.nl is a crowdfunding pilot launched last year by the Dutch bank ABN AMRO’s innovation platform, Dialogues Incubator. Seeds.nl 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!

Community of 20,000 celebrating kindness & wisdom

Wake Up projectMy gorgeous friend Leanne kindly sent me this community, knowing how much I’d love love love it!

They’re a ‘community of 20,000+ people celebrating kindness & wisdom in modern life.’ They explore a variety of ideas from compassion to creativity, mindfulness to business and the arts. Mouth of word has spread through their free kindness cards. Their founder Jono did his first kindness event in 2009 as a test to see if anyone would come. He was expecting a few but 400 turned up! They now put on workshops, special evenings, films and have a flagship business conference hoping to inspire kind and wise living.
What a bloody good idea, shame they’re based in Australia.

Why Kindness & Wisdom?

As Jono their founder would say the Dalai Lama gave us a hint when he said, “kindness is my religion”. Science and wisdom traditions point to mindfulness and kindness as key qualities for living with purpose, meaning & fulfilment – oh yes.

What events in the UK do you go to?

Suspended coffee – small random acts of kindness

‘Every once in a while an idea comes along with the potential to truly make the world a better place. Suspended Coffee is one of those ideas.’ #suspendedcoffees

I heard about this months ago and have been meaning to feature it. You walk into a coffee shop and instead of buying just one cup of coffee for you, you buy two, or more. One for yourself and one for someone in need.

The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples (about 100 years ago so the story goes). Someone who’d experienced good luck would order a ‘sospeso’. They’d pay the price of two coffees and one would be kept for someone who may need it. A caffè sospeso (suspended coffee).

The UK arm of coffee chain Starbucks signed up for a charity initiative based on the suspended coffee concept in April 2013. I know it’s Starbucks so slightly taints they idea! Starbucks said it would match the value of each suspended coffee with a cash donation to the Oasis charity. I guess they can afford to with all the money they should be paying for tax.

Other shops are expanding the idea to cover cookies and other food. The Facebook page in the UK has designed “Suspended Coffee Supporter” logos which shops can display on their doors so you know which are on board. Hopefully some shops would donate any money left over at the end of each month to a good cause, which may be a concern for sceptics who think shops may benefit.

Will you buy a suspended coffee?

The Clothes Club hits Dalston rooftop – to raise money for Bootstrap Campus

We’ve been pretty busy the last few months, planning the 2nd Clothes Club event on Wednesday 4th September. It’s a chance to enjoy the last of the summer, hopefully, on the Dalston rooftop. We’ve been in touch with their team since last summer when we decided to first launch TCC, so it’s a pretty weird feeling that the event is suddenly upon us.

We’re supporting Bootstrap Campus who run programmes and workshops for disadvantaged kids in Hackney. Our first Clothes Club supported Hackney Pirates who also help kids in Hackney, with pioneering educational programmes (after school hours). The youth sector is definitely something we’re passionate about, so it’s great to be partnering with yet another great social enterprise in this space.

Bootstrap Campus are part a social enterprise, Bootstrap Company, who have been around since 1977. They help incubate 100s of early stage companies and believe ‘in the power of creativity and micro-enterprises’. By leveraging the creative enterprises that are part of the Bootstrap building community, they develop programs that focus on creative learning and career building, all done within the perfect space – the iconic Print House building, the WW2 bunker and sought after Dalston rooftop.

Their CEO Sara Turnbull is a ‘Chartered Environmentalist with experience in holistic sustainability, energy efficient retrofit and behaviour change’, she’s no doubt had a major impact on the company (and I’d love to interview her).

If you’re free on Wednesday evening pop by with 3 items of quality clothing to swap. You’ll get tokens in return which you can exchange for clothes and do your bit for the environment. There will be cocktails, live sketching of the event in action, and a famous DJ. But best of all for just £10 you’re not only getting new items, it also helps kids in Hackney (win:win).

Thanks for your support TheclothesClub_Poster_Sept4_final

Action Aid blogger meet up – 4th June #actionaidmeetup

I’ve just been invited to my first blogger meet up by Action Aid. For old hands to this sort of thing it’s no big deal but I’m pretty excited.  If you have a blog and fancy coming you can register here.

They want us to come together to meet with fellow bloggers and tweeters to ‘discuss the importance of food, both in the world’s richest nations, where we can enjoy it in abundance, and in poorer countries, where finding each meal is the centre of existence for many’.

There are some great speakers on subjects as varied as how to cook food brilliantly, to what it’s like to live in a country where millions don’t have enough of it.

When:  4 June 2013

Where: The Crown Tavern, 43 Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 0EG

Time: 6pm – 8.30pm

Who are the speakers?

Fay Ripley – a British actress of Cold Feet fame will be talking about her passion for food, as well as her experience of visiting Tanzania – where millions of people go hungry every year – and where she also sponsors a child.

Joy Mghoi Mwakisambi – a young campaigner who is visiting from Kenya will speak about the major issues affecting the poorest people in her country, and how we can all add our voices to the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which is calling for G8 leaders to tackle the broken food system.

Rachel Beer – founder of the popular #NFPTweetup. An expert in putting on engaging events linking good causes with sympathetic online communities, she will look at the mutually beneficial relationship emerging between charities and bloggers.

What a great line up! Looking forward to meeting some like minded people and discussions about something which unites us all.

The Clothes Club – raising money for social enterprises

TheClothesClub_black The Clothes Club, a new garment swapping community, has been launched with a goal of raising £5,000 for local social enterprises, at events held by the group.

I came up with the idea a year-ago and have been working since then to get the right team in place. Lucy Dunleavy and Carmen Ortiz Guillen, two East London women with a passion for social enterprise, will be helping with the operation.

A Facebook page is now live and the blog will be ready in April ahead of the first event. What’s the insight behind The Clothes Club? Often there are items in our wardrobe we still like but just don’t wear anymore or perhaps a gift that’s perfectly fine but not your taste. With this in mind we’re forming a community of clothes swappers for good causes.

The money raised at each event will go to a different social enterprise, a sector that’s close to our hearts. We’ll be supporting Hackney Pirates with the event in April, who help 9-12 year olds.

Hopefully The Clothes Club will be a viable alternative to ebay, gumtree and car boot sales. It works this way: You pay £10 to bring 3 items (decent items rather than tat). You receive tokens and can swap them of other items. If there’s something extra you want you can always buy extra tokens. The money raised goes to a good cause and you go home with three new things and potentially some new friends. Sorry boys but it’s a girl only thing for now.

If you’d like to join the community you can here and we look forward to seeing you at the events.