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.
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.
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?