September 7, 2011
Please fund my project?
Barak Obama used it to raise funds for his presidential election campaign. The American film industry has benefited from using it to the tunes of millions of dollars. It is a system of fundraising that is so simple in its conception that it is hard to believe it actually works. You ask for money. Crowdfunding is relatively new in this country and the first crowdfunding platform specially designed for our sector is about to be launched
The fundraising method used by Barack Obama for his presidential election campaign could transform charity funding in Scotland, according to the founders of a new cooperative business.
Borders based SoLoCo uses a “crowdsourcing” approach with the aim of connecting communities online. It gives projects or causes the chance to appeal directly to the public for funds on the web. Using a dedicated website, the appeals have to be for a specific campaign over a 60-day period.
As well as Obama’s campaign for the presidency, the crowd-sourcing approach has also been used to raise money for arts projects in America under the Kickstarter scheme, while Scottish company Brewdog adopted it for their ‘Equity for Punks’ expansion campaigns.
An official launch of the new approach is planned to take place in Glasgow later this month, as part of world Social Media Week, but SoLoCo’s website is already live and the first appeals have already gone up on it, with six projects signed up to crowdsource for donations.
They include an attempt to renovate a walled garden in Assynt, in Sutherland, a multimedia youth project in Duns in the Borders, an employment scheme attached to community cafe Punjab’n De Rasoi in Leith, and an appeal for audio-visual equipment for the project Youth Football Scotland. Between them, the six projects hope to raise a total of at least £124,976.
SoLoCo Founder Kirsty Burnham said: “We believe SoLoCo can help revolutionise the future of funding in the UK. “We want to make it easier to raise funds, and in time make it easier for organisations to be become less reliant on the ‘traditional’ funding bodies. We also want to help improve the visibility of our communities and all the amazing work happening on the ground every day.”
“Crowdfunding has already made a huge difference to the arts, music and even Obama’s political campaign – now we want it to change communities.”
Organisers believe any source of new funds should be welcome at a time when an increasingly tough financial climate means the third sector is battling with reduced income from statutory funding. At the same time many organisations also face a steep increase in demand for services. Charities and campaigns signing up to the site can promote their appeal and then have 60 days in which to fundraise, and are encouraged to make extensive use of social media to do so.
SoLoCo itself takes a commission on any funds raised, with the amount taken depending on whether or not a campaign reaches its target. Lots of little amounts all add up
During Social Media Week SoLoCo is to offer a special crowdfunding workshop on September 20 in collaboration with other UK pioneers of crowdfunding.
They include publishing initiative Unbound, and the focus will be on producing one or more viral adverts to help promote the notion of crowdfunding.