Scottish born ‘SoLoCo’ aims to mainstream crowdfunding in UK

Regular readers of this blog may remember me talking last year about Cancer Research UK’s efforts to give supporters more choice over where their money goes. CRUK’s MyProjects initiative uses ‘crowdfunding’ to appeal to donors’ interests and preferences – handing the decision over to us as to which of their research we want to fund. The projects get off the ground by us all chipping in what we can – the same principle that runs sites like Wikipedia for crowdsourcing knowledge.

I’m therefore excited to see the emergence of SoLoCo – launched in Beta a few days ago during Social Media Week in Scotland – purporting to be the UK’s first proper crowdfunding website for the third sector.

At present, there are 11 projects – all Scottish based – bidding for our cash, including erm SoLoCo itself as it seeks funding for three salaries for two months, required to kickstart the running of the initiative. The other projects range from funding community radio to youth schemes and even an online newspaper to prioritise debate on the Scottish independence referendum.

However, SoLoCo invites charities from across the whole of the UK to offer up their projects – for free, as long as they match the following criteria:

1.  The project benefits the community
2.  It has a UK bank account
3.  It is based in the UK

SoLoCo promises a strict process of verification to ensure all schemes are legitimate and include a project timeline.

It’s clearly early days, but the site looks stylish and intuitive, with big clicky buttons guiding the visitor through each project’s details to where they can donate safely and simply, using PayPal. I also like how SoLoCo has encouraged charities to add rich content like video and images to bring their projects to life and really ‘sell themselves’. Another nice touch are suggestions for charities on how to advertise, such as setting up a Facebook page and using email marketing.

The future?

Hats off to co-founders Kirsty Burnham and John Ayscough, as they employ a big idea (which counts the President of the United States among its champions) to encourage micropayments of the many to fund local projects which don’t generally attract large grants to keep them afloat. I for one wish SoLoCo success, as it points to a potential future for many charities in this age of depleting statutory funding and, arguably, the ‘traditional donor’.

As this somewhat “no, really?” piece in The Guardian last week states, donors are more interested in giving to charities they have a stake or personal interest in, as opposed to the pull of any ‘grand narrative’ of giving.

Speaking of which…it’s almost time for Children in Need again isn’t it?

One thought on “Scottish born ‘SoLoCo’ aims to mainstream crowdfunding in UK

  1. Many thanks Rob for your great article, I’d like to add a few thoughts.

    In a continent where countries are falling apart, governments are caught out, banking systems collapsing and money is tight, communities need to be pulling together more than ever. Growing you own community food and sharing land, the Hairy Bikers reinvigorating the institution of ‘Meals on Wheels’ and the Big Lottery funding small villages and rebranding them, all suggest a movement here in the UK to engage with what might seem like old fashioned traditions. During the harsh winter we all experienced last year, it wasn’t uncommon to see folk helping each other dig out their cars or calling in on the elderly to see if they needed anything. There was a real sense of community which reminded me of the stories my granny would tell of her street during the War. Now, whether these stories were actually based in reality, or merely memories seen though rose-tinted glasses doesn’t really matter – the point is we are in crisis. Since our leaders continue to fail and mislead us we have to take charge, take things personally and help to secure a future for ourselves and our kids that is sustainable – and ultimately better.

    SoLoCo is one of many current ideas, perhaps even part of a movement looking for solutions to the scary times in which we live. SoLoCo asks anyone in the UK to consider carefully how we want to live our lives. Do we care about our streets, our youth, our minority groups, our old people, our future and ultimately each other? We see SoLoCo as complementary to all the great Third Sector work happening in the UK and hope to be a major voice for egalitarianism in the coming years.

    Projects coming on board, via our website, have a number of attributes in common: they are passionate about that they do; they need cash to survive; they are coming from our communities and significantly add to the wellbeing of society; and they enrich our cultural heritage. Launching the platform last week was a wonderful experience – it’s great to be part of something meaningful. However, SoLoCo relies on the ‘crowd’ getting involved and donating. We have new projects sending their pitches to us every day – clearly demonstrating evidence of need – so I urge anyone who reads this to spread the word and, most importantly to go to our website and make a donation – be it large or small. Go to our page for the latest updates and help us become a successful and sustainable proposition.

    Our website is – make a donation, and a difference, today.

    Many thanks. John

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