Crowdfunder UK is making an exciting incursion into Canada, bringing its team of industry experts and famous ‘Accelerator’ programme across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.
The UK’s biggest crowdfunding platform will be launching Crowdfund Canada, a localised new platform with funds to support new projects making an impact in British Columbia.
The company has enjoyed a period of rapid growth in the past 18 months, raising more than £75 million ($130 million) for tens of thousands start-ups, social enterprises, community groups, politicians and activist groups in the UK since its launch in 2011.
The expansion will be led by Founder and Creative Director Simon Deverell.
“Our move into Canada marks a milestone moment for Crowdfunder as we introduce our world-class product to new audiences,” said Simon.
“Within a few years we’ve grown from a start-up into a thriving business and the demand for our services is accelerating all the time,” he added.
“As in the UK, we will be working with projects that Kickstarter and Indiegogo are not, with a greater focus on community, social enterprise, political and activism projects, as well as businesses and personal causes.”
Crowdfunder UK has pioneered the use of collaborative crowdfunding in mass engagement programmes alongside the likes of Virgin, RBS Group, Santander and Aviva. They also work in the UK with more than 40 local authorities to channel essential public funding into community groups who need it most.
The platform has also developed a groundbreaking ‘staff giving’ programme, enabling big businesses to distribute CSR budgets through their workforce into community groups on Crowdfunder.
“We welcome the opportunity to forge new partnerships with big brands and grant givers to engage thousands of individuals and organisations at the very start of their journeys,” said Deverell.
“The growth in our work with big brands is soaring and the impact that is having at a local level is significant.”
Crowdfund Beautiful British Columbia
To mark the move, Crowdfund Canada will pledge $100 to the first 20 crowdfunding projects based in British Columbia, looking to raise more than $2,000 to make a difference in their community.
The campaign that attracts the most supporters through the new platform will also receive an additional $2,000 contribution to their cause.
It’s simple to apply to the competition, called Crowdfund Beautiful British Columbia.
Crowdfunder is encouraging anyone who thinks their idea or project may be eligible to simply explain so in under 100 words.
Last year one of our projects, Led By Donkeys, took us to the Cannes Lions, the International Festival of Creativity.
It was an important moment for us. Like Trump Baby they made their mark through crowdfunding, using it as a very modern marketing tool to reach billions around the world.
That’s the big opportunity now for brands and how they speak to their customers through collective experiences. The persuasive power of the masses. It’s the crowd’s media.
The crowd is now the client now and they’re single handedly disrupting traditional media. Here are some great examples.
TV advertising: Veg Power
The UK is facing a growing health crisis. Veg Power was a collaborative campaign group that has been created to improve the eating habits of a generation. The problem is serious. Around four in five kids and 95% of teenagers are not eating enough veg so an innovative campaign was created to counter the constant stream of junk food advertising.
The team behind it brought together the best minds in children’s health as well as TV campaigners such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Dr Rangan Chatterjee and advertising legend Sir John Hegarty. Crowdfunding formed a significant chunk of the funding mix, raising a staggering £102,215 ($174,314) from their supporters to compliment significant funding by the biggest ever coalition of supermarkets.
It resulted in a 60-second film that was aired during one the country’s biggest shows, Coronation Street on ITV, who contributed £2 million of air time to the cause to ensure millions of people got the perception changing message.
Cross-channel: Led By Donkeys
A guerrilla billboard campaign by a campaign group calling themselves Led by Donkeys hit the sweet spot last year. The idea was simple enough: to remind voters of spurious statements made by the leading protagonists of the Brexit referendum by plastering them on gigantic billboards across Britain. It caught the eye of an increasingly divided nation and took off, first in the national press and then on Crowdfunder as thousands of supporters – 30,000 in the end – rushed to back the group with their idea.
A little over 36 hours after its launch they had hit their ‘stretch target’ of £50,000 ($85,268) after smashing their original aim of £10,000 ($17,053) inside three hours. In the end it became Britain’s biggest people funded political campaign in history to the tune of £1.5 million ($2,558,055).
There’s something compelling about taking to huge billboards to grab attention in a world dominated by digital platforms.
Combining a razor creative with a perfectly timed message can resonate so effectively with the public and when it’s done well, it makes the news as we saw in 2019.
The beauty of Led by Donkeys was that the statements framed themselves, using screengrabs from Twitter to lend greater authenticity in the midst of all the political flip-floppery that played out.
Press: Amnesty International
Amnesty International crowdfunded an advertising campaign to challenge the then Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act, raising near on £30,000 to take out a string of adverts in The Times in the run up to the Queens Speech.
The double-page spread featured the name of the 1,000 supporters on Crowdfunder in a powerful message in one of Britain’s biggest newspapers.
Outdoor advertising: I am an Immigrant
The I am an Immigrant campaign successfully raised £54,101 ($92,320) for a series of posters to celebrate the contribution of migrants to British life across our major tube and rail networks in the run up to the General Election in 2015.
The posters were displayed at 400 tube stations in London and at 550 national rail stations across the country. A further 26 billboards sites were used up and down the UK. their website also allowed other immigrants the opportunity to create their own digital poster, telling their story.
Outdoor advertising: Open letter to the Prime Minister
Almost £70,000 ($119,450) was raised by well over 3,000 people two years ago at the start of the Brexit negotiations to send an open letter to the then Prime Minister Theresa May from roadsides across the UK and is hitherto the biggest to date, reaching 10 million people on the streets of Great Britain with their message.
Outdoor advertising: Dignity in Dying
Campaigning organisation Dignity in Dying also turned to crowdfunding ahead of the parliamentary vote on the Assisted Dying Bill back in 2015 which – in their view – could have given dying people choice and control over their death.
The divisive issue had not been voted on by MPs for 20 years so it provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to show their elected representatives that the overwhelming majority – 82% at the time – want law change on assisted dying.
Actor and patron Sir Patrick Stewart spearheaded the Crowdfunder to create a high-impact advertising campaign and they received unprecedented support, raising almost £32,000 for a string of hard-hitting messages in key strategic locations.
Sir Patrick Stewart spearheaded a Crowdfunder to raise almost £32,000 ($54,606) for a string of highly visible messages about assisted dying
Outdoor advertising: the UK soccer team
Size isn’t everything. Three years ago the supporters of a fourth tier soccer club in the West of England created a small crowdfunding campaign to raise £1,000 ($1,706) to boost their struggling hometown football club.
Within 48 hours the unfashionable club was picked up by the national media and talked about on US television at half-time during the Super Bowl. It was also written about in China at a time when it barely raised an eyebrow in its local community. It works and it can be very effective for brand building on any scale.
Activation: Trump Baby
It’s not just billboards. When it comes to biting political statements it’s hard to look past the hugely controversial Trump Baby ahead of the American President’s divisive visit to the UK last summer. It was something that had never seen before and it touched a nerve in the Whitehouse, further proof that when a great idea is backed to the hilt it can go global and even reach the smartphones of our world leaders.
Splashed on the front page of every major newspaper across the globe, it quickly raised the near £35,000 ($119,450) the idea needed to come to life and fly above the UK Parliament in London.
It took social media by storm for days and underlined the growing reputation of crowdfunding as a very modern marketing tool. When your supporters are invested both financially and emotionally they will work together to ensure that message is heard, and heard loudly.
Crowdfunder can propel people into the heart of political discourse. It works of course for both sides of the coin as the subsequent campaign to fly a giant balloon of London mayor Sadiq Kahn showed, raising almost double the money to come to life as a counter-protest above the capital.
Hot air, maybe, depending on where you sit in the debate but when it comes to empowering people to stand up for what they believe, crowdfunding continues to provide a robust way to gather support and validate great ideas.
It’s not about sides. It’s about giving people a platform.
The world’s political and social climate is ready for bottom-up innovation and creativity when it comes to protest and Crowdfund Canada could yet prove to be one of the key battlegrounds in this era of extraordinary politics.
Keep your eyes peeled the next time you’re walking down the street to really see the influence of crowdfunding in the big debate.
Brexit. You couldn’t escape it in the UK last year. It split the country down the middle and trampled the status quo of British politics.
The idea of ‘taking back control’ was a central tenet of the Leave campaign, becoming one of the driving forces of Brexit but what does it actually mean?
The truth is there’s no simple answer. But when it comes to crowdfunding in a divided world, it’s far more straightforward.
It’s given people a powerful voice at a time when confidence in the established systems is fast diminishing. People are taking control themselves and getting their voices heard.
We’ve seen thousands of people use our platform to raise more than millions for projects spawned by world politics, establishing us as the home of disruptive statements on both sides of the argument.
Some are serious. Others less so, responding to the big issues with some humour. All matter to the people behind them.
Either way crowdfunding is propelling more and more people into the heart of political discourse in an increasingly tribal world.
All you need to hit the ground running on Crowdfund.ca is a good idea and the confidence to share it with the crowd. We’re not here to take sides. We simply give ordinary people a platform to support theirs. That’s what we do best and there have been thousands of projects, but these are the ones that have really caught the imagination.
They pasted politician’s spurious Brexit Twitter statements on gigantic billboards in all four corners of the country. It took off, reaching millions on the streets and billions worldwide. At the time of writing more than 30,000 people have pledged almost £1.5 million ($2,558,794) to fund one of the most imaginative and celebrated campaigns of the year.
So far the project has consisted of more than 400 billboards across Europe, three spoof websites and massive projections in Westminster, Brussels, on the white cliffs of Dover, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. There has been a sand sculpture visible from space and the defining image at the People’s March rally in London, attended by a million people. There’s no sign of them letting up, much to the chagrin of the leading Brexiteers.
Changing the history of protest: Trump Baby
Trump Baby changed the history of protest forever. When it comes to biting political statements it’s hard to look past the hugely controversial blimp ahead of the American President’s divisive visit to the UK last summer. It was something we’d never seen before and it even touched a nerve in the Whitehouse, further proof that when a great idea is backed to the hilt it can go global and reach the smartphones of our world leaders.
It splashed on the front page of every major newspaper across the globe, trended on social media for days and was used by a major British news broadcaster to brand their coverage of the visit, enhancing crowdfunding’s growing reputation as a very modern marketing tool. It sparked a copycat project to float a balloon featuring London mayor Sadiq Khan, raising twice as much money for a counter protest. Both caught the public’s imagination as well as the attention of the Museum of London, who will add the balloons to its permanent collection.
“We think they’re really important objects that symbolise a key moment in London’s history of protest,” Vyki Sparkes, Curator of Social and Working History told Sky News.
“The blimps symbolise a key moment. If it gets people talking and thinking, then great. Protest is a big part of London’s history and we’re just bringing that story up to date. It’s living history, about expressing how different people feel and bringing that to life. 2018 was the year of the protest balloon. These were the two key blimps that sum up this change in protest and they way it’s then repeated online and across social media. For us, it’s an important moment.”
Over £130,000 ($221,762) was raised to fly the two blimps last year.
Ball v Johnson
Lawyer Marcus Ball took a different tack. A more traditional approach from inside the system. The political campaigner was backed to the tune of over £500,000 ($852,931) to bring about a private prosecution against Boris Johnson over his EU referendum bus claims. In May 2019 the now Prime Minister was summoned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to answer the allegations of misconduct in public office, leading the news around the world for days, but the decision was later overturned by High Court judges. The fight continues. “This isn’t over, we are not giving up,” Marcus said outside the court.
All the money Marcus is raising is being spent on legal fees, communication, research and upkeeping costs and while we see many people turn to the platform to fund legal causes, this is by far one of the biggest and newsworthy in the post-referendum world.
Better together: More United
More United have turned to Crowdfunder on no less than five occasions, raising a staggering £684,000 ($1,166,810) thanks to more than 18,000 supporters in the past three years. The organisation was founded as the dust settled on the UK’s Brexit referendum to encourage MPs to work across party lines at Westminster.
The organisation have drastically grown their membership in excess of 150,000 supporters, using their crowdfunding campaigns to spread their message about the things that matter to them including the National Health Service (NHS), disability rights, plastic pollution and immigration.
They have used the money to fund 54 candidates across five Parliamentary parties, all of which carry the message of the More United members to secure debates and influence policy change where it counts. That’s real change, from the bottom-up.
The kids are alright: Our Future, Our Choice
Our Future, Our Choice is a group of young people committed to a final say on the Brexit deal. Spearheaded by Femi Oluwole, a British political activist and co-founder of the pro-European Union advocacy group, they’re building a national movement of young activists who overwhelmingly voted to remain part of the EU back in 2016.
They’ve sparked a surge of young voter registrations, mobilising a generation to take action at what they believe will be a devastating divorce from the European Union (EU). It’s paid for boots on the ground, visiting schools, colleges and universities across the country to spread their message and protest. They’re also finding more creative ways to mobilise their supporters and it’s crowdfunding that’s driving that momentum. In total they have raised £100,000 ($170,586)in four campaigns by 3,000 supporters, using crowdfunding as a force for good for engaging young people with politics.
Party politics: the people’s representitives
Changing it from within the political system. It was a truly extraordinary year in British politics.
We have seen Conservative, Labour, Green Party, Scottish National Party and UKIP candidates crowdfund over 700 election deposits, raising well over £1 million ($1,705,863) for fighting funds.
Crowdfunding is the foundation for political change, opening up the process to more and more people to get involved.
You’ve got it! You’ve got that idea that will make a massive impact on those around you, but now you’re wondering how to get the funds that will make it happen. Well, crowdfunding can propel your idea into a reality.
Crowdfunding is not only an excellent way of raising the funds for your idea, it can also raise awareness of your brand/organisation and, once your project has successfully closed, you’ll have your own crowd of supporters joining you for your future adventures.
Although, not all ideas are suitable for crowdfunding. This can be for a number of reasons, such as your idea needs some more development before it’s ready to be sent out into the world, or maybe you haven’t actually told anyone about it yet. Remember, to make your project a success, you need people to support you. Did you know that the most common question we get asked is, “Will my project successfully crowdfund?”
Well, our team think that it really comes down to these five things:
1. Are you able to reach enough people?
One of the most important things is to have your own crowd around you so, when you hit the ground running, they’re there to support you. Basically, you need to have an engaged audience and this could be via social media, an email database, or through word of mouth!
Facebook: Having a Facebook group, page, or following is always a promising sign for anyone thinking of crowdfunding. Although, it’s not just about how big the following is, it’s also about how much they’re engaging with your posts. If you wanted to raise over $2000, you’d want a following of 500+ people who are really loving what you’re putting out into the world.
Email: Spreading the word through email is also a great way to get people on board with your project. To raise over $2000, having a list of over 500 people is a good place to start.
Real world: Yes, the actual crowdfunding will take place online, but one of the best ways to get someone to pledge to your project is either on the phone or, better yet, face to face. A launch party, or another type of event, is a great way to get lots of people in one place where you can tell them all about your project and answer any questions that they may have about it!
2. Is your idea good enough?
There’s one astounding thing about ideas and that is that they have the potential to change the world or, at the very least, someone’s world. We always recommend testing your idea out on people first by asking if they would back your project. If they say yes, it’s always worth asking how much they would be willing to pledge.
These answers can really be essential when it comes to perfecting your project description, video, and picture! They can also help you figure out if your target is realistic.
3. Do you have to add rewards?
Crowdfunding comes in all different shapes and sizes, but Crowdfund.ca is a rewards and donation based crowdfunding platform, so, yes, add rewards to your project! These rewards can be an excellent way of building excitement about your project and also increasing the amount your supporters will pledge.
Usually, before a supporter has even landed on your project page, they will have already decided how much they’re going to pledge. So, an amazing reward could make them change their mind and pledge more than they originally planned.
Having rewards from as little as $10 is a great way to make sure everyone has a chance to get involved in the action. After all, you don’t want anyone leaving without pledging anything because you didn’t cover all budgets.
4. How much can you raise?
It’s true that there’s no limit to how much you can raise, but, to enable your idea to become a reality, we always recommend making sure that your target is realistic. When it comes down to it, it all depends how big your Crowd is and how many new supporters you can garner.
5. Get off to a good start!
A crowdfunding page is just like a party – no one wants to arrive first. Having about 10 supporters already lined up will get you through that awkward first stage where no one wants to be the first to pledge.
People are also more likely to pledge if they see others already backing your project, so it’s a good idea to hold off on social media and email promotion until you have about 10% already pledged!
You don’t need to be a marketing genius to crowdfund, but you do need to think about how you’re going to promote your crowdfunding project and reach more people.
Why? Because it will increase potential donations!
So, first thing’s first. In order to successfully crowdfund, you need people to support and pledge on your project. Seems simple, right? In some ways yes, but you need to have a plan in place for how you’re going to reach those people. If you don’t tell them what you’re doing, then how are they supposed to know?
You need to be prepared to shout from the rooftops about your fundraising campaign! The way to do this and reach more people whilst keeping them engaged is through a rich variety of content.
Through content, you can build momentum and that all important buzz around what you’re doing, as well as tap into the people beyond your immediate network. Of course, word of mouth is always a good avenue to maximise, but there’s extra things that you can be doing and sharing along the way to lay your own path to success.
If you’re not sure where to begin, then use these five suggestions below to get started. Remember, crowdfunding is all about community and collaboration. If you’re not sure how to do something, then ask someone who does.
1. Social media posts
According to Facebook, there are 19 million Facebook users in Canada, making it the most popular platform in the country.
Though, there are multiple ways to utilise social media to get your crowdfunding campaign in front of as many people as possible. In fact, there are 25.3 million social network users in Canada alone.
After years of being experts in the UK’s crowdfunding field, we’ve learnt that Facebook works for most. Though, if you’ve got lots of good quality imagery, then give Instagram a go and if you have lots of connections on Twitter, then this may also be a great place to start.
For some people, you’ll be starting from square one. In this case, I would say that it’s better to focus your attention on one channel to begin with rather than being a master of none, so don’t give yourself too much new ground to tread. Also keep in mind that it’s good practice to begin this process before you launch your crowdfunding project so that you have a crowd to work with when you’re live.
Writing and planning social media posts is the quickest form of content that you can use to promote your crowdfunding project because it’s generally snappy one-liners which have the huge potential of reaching a massive audience.
If you’re not too sure about what kind of thing to write, then have a think about how you engage with content on a daily basis on various social media channels and then try this out with your own messaging.
2. Blog posts
If you’re new to the world of blogging, then don’t be alarmed. By definition, a blog is a regularly updated web page that is written in an informal style. Therefore, this kind of writing can take the pressure off because it’s intended to be conversational.
One of the things I really love about written content is the collaborative aspect!
I would encourage anyone thinking about crowdfunding to contact other bloggers to see if they would like to write something about your fundraising project. Having someone else show their network that they support what you’re doing is a great way to secure more donations and get people talking.
Try and find bloggers who are writing about the sector that you’re crowdfunding in such as charity, community, environment etc. One of the questions that we get asked regularly at Crowdfunder UK is how to tap into other people’s networks and I would say that collaboration is the key.
And remember when I mentioned using a rich variety of content? Share that blog on your social media channels.
Content comes in all shapes and sizes. Some content has the potential to reach a bigger audience, whereas other content is much more focussed on the people who are already in your world.
If you’re thinking about crowdfunding in the near future, then start building a database of email addresses so that you can reach out to your crowd and let them know that you are going to be launching.
Do make sure that you are meeting GDPR requirements.
Need some inspiration? Sign up to a couple of newsletters from organisations that you love to see how they’re doing things and definitely pay attention to the emails that hit your inbox.
One of the key ingredients to launching a successful crowdfunding project is to make sure that the noise you’re making about your project is having an impact on your audience.
Therefore, the more content that you can get other people to write about you, the better! When people work together, the potential reach that you can have is far greater.
Getting in touch with local newspapers and radio stations can feel daunting but, more often than not, they are looking for the juiciest stories to talk about. If anything, you will be saving them the time and effort of coming to find you!
Do you listen to a podcast that really resonates with the aim of your crowdfunding project? Got a friend that works at a local radio station? Reach out and see if you can secure a spot to talk about your crowdfunding project. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that they say no. And the best result? You’ll be live and talking all about your crowdfunding adventure, with the opportunity to get into the details of why you do what you do.
Remember – Crowdfunding is your opportunity to shape your idea and make it happen so be bold, be creative and most importantly, have fun!
Launching your crowdfunding project is a big deal and can be a daunting experience, especially if you’ve never raised funds through crowdfunding before. To help you on your way, we asked Crowdfunder UK’s Senior Crowdfunding Coach, Bertie, for his insight on how to launch a new project.
I am a firm believer that the strength of a good campaign is all in the preparation.
To convince others to take notice of your crowdfunding project, it’s very important to have some money on your project before you send it out to everyone. This will help to create a strong impression of success, convincing others to get involved.
There are a few different ways to set yourself up for success, and here are my three favourites.
1. Creating a launch event
Depending on your project type, a launch event can be an excellent way to not only celebrate the launch of your project but to also get some early supporters involved from day one.
The scale of this event is completely up to you but it is a fantastic way to secure initial donations and get people excited and involved in what you are trying to achieve.
Adria who used to Crowdfunder to fundraise in the UK for his brewery told me that inviting everyone to the brewery for the launch was the best thing he could have done for his campaign! Everyone got a free beer on arrival and a second one from the bar once they had made a donation.
A launch is also a great time to have some fun and tell people all about what you’re crowdfunding for. Getting people involved early on will make them feel part of the experience and more likely to share your crowdfunding page with their network.
2. Soft launch
We always recommend that you lock down between 10-20% of your target prior to going live. That way you know exactly where the money is going to come from and you can guarantee enough activity on your page on day one to create a positive impression.
One of the ways you can do this is by targeting your core audience first, before going out to your wider network. By switching your project to go live and calling those who are most likely to pledge, you’ll be able to get some numbers on the page before you make the crowdfunding campaign more public. By the time people start to visit the page from outside your network, they’ll be able to see that there is a healthy percentage of funds raised and will therefore feel more comfortable donating themselves.
3. Starting with a bang
In the month up to your launch date, you’ll be mapping out all of the potential groups of supporters who might share an interest in your crowdfunding campaign.
One of the key parts of this process is to make a clear list of those individuals or businesses who might be able to donate a larger figure to your crowdfunding campaign. If you can start these conversations early and line up the pledges to appear on your launch date, then you can start with a bang.
In tandem to locking down these larger chunks of funding, you can also queue up some key influencers and press to announce the launch of your campaign and amplify the buzz further.
In 2018, Canada took in more refugees than any other country, overtaking the US for the first time since the 1980 Refugee Act. After fleeing war in their homeland, Syrian refugees can find themselves thrust into an uncertain future, possibly losing years of education.
In the UK, a small college heard the pleas for extra education and set out on a mission to help.
Founded in London in 1958, Newman Catholic College (NCC) prides itself on its ethos to give all pupils the encouragement and care they need to flourish and reach their full potential. After listening to the local community, NCC realised that the Syrian children in their area were desperate to catch up on years of lost education.
In response to their heartfelt cries, NCC decided to offer up their school premises during the summer vacation in order to give refugees and asylum seeking children tuition free of charge. In 2016, the Syrian Summer Camp opened its doors to 40 children per day for four days a week.
They were taught Science, English and Maths and the classes ranged from beginner through to more advanced levels. The results spoke for themselves. These supplementary classes helped boost the children’s confidence, wellbeing and educational performance. The impressive results made the school want to do more.
They wanted to run the Summer Camp five days a week, have even more students attend the programme, and provide them lunch during their studies. To do this, they needed £10,000 ($17,007.42).
In just 8 days, they reached their initial target and set a stretch target, hoping to be able to provide a ‘Mums and Babes’ English class, UK Citizenship education, Summer Camp volunteer training, volunteer travel expenses, a Hardship Fund, and electronic resources.
After a total of 28 days, NCC raised £17,665 ($30,048.22 from 79 supporters, including an extra-funding grant of £5,000 ($8505.02) from one of Crowdfunder UK’s funding partners. The City Bridge Trust and Trust For London’s conjoined initiative aims to help organisations in London which are addressing inequality and lifting people out of poverty!
When asked about the impact crowdfunding had on the school and community, Mr Coyle, NCC’s Headteacher, said, “The project has now become self sustaining – the success of crowdfunding enabled us to launch a successful project that attracted lots of publicity and attention.”
He continued, “It has enabled the local Syrian refugee community to become successful academically and settled as UK citizens.”
During Summer of 2017, NCC opened its doors once again to the refugees and asylum seekers of the community. On the first day over 80 students arrived, hungry to learn. On Wednesday of that same week, the number of pupils reached 96, consisting of students, parents, and even grandmas who were thankful to the school and the extra-funding that allowed the parent classes to commence.
It’s no secret that music is an extremely powerful thing. It has been known to improve wellbeing, increase confidence, and bring people from all walks of life together. Aiming to bring guitar tuition to 200 vulnerable adults, Thomas Binns thought up a creative and record breaking way to fund it.
After setting up a guitar school in England’s capital city, London, Thomas Binns saw first hand the impact music could have on people’s lives. He found that music tuition could reduce isolation, promote inclusion, and increase confidence and self-esteem.
Then it got him thinking that if music could have such a drastic impact on people’s lives, what could it do for those neglected by society?
Thomas Binns, the Guitar Social’s founder, explained, “I started the Guitar Social five years ago and it accelerated fairly quickly. It started off with just one class but then, within a month, we were at capacity. We were seeing around 70 people a week attending the classes.”
He continued, “It’s a really positive experience for the people that have signed up. Over the years they reported that it had a real benefit to them. Not only were they learning things but it was also creating social circles. It occurred to me that if we are doing that for people with income and the means to do it then we have the responsibility to do it for people who wouldn’t be able to access that same service. So we set about finding groups of people who wouldn’t be able to access good quality music tuition and all the benefits that come with that.”
Seeing the impact on the community
Over the years, the Guitar Social team have seen just what music can do for communities.
Thomas said, “We use music tuition as a way to work with people who might have confidence or self esteem issues. These are people who are facing multiple social barriers such as physical, social or economic problems. With that usually comes a whole load of other issues so music tuition gets us into those communities. It is our access point. Then, through learning music, we notice the soft outcomes where people report an increased sense of wellbeing and confidence.”
For years, Thomas had been funding the charitable organisation from the profits of the guitar school and even his own pocket. Though, to reach more people, he knew they had to find more funding.
After a chance meeting with Crowdfunder UK’s co-founder and Creative Director, Simon Deverell, and Crowdfunder UK’s Head of Campaigns, Murry Toms, Thomas was introduced to the idea of crowdfunding for his organisation.
He said, “We had been funding it ourselves for a number of years. We had been buying instruments for people for about 2 years and delivering this work without any funding. It never really occurred to us to get any coverage on it. It was interesting that it was something that people were interested in.”
A ground-breaking world record attempt for a ground-breaking initiative
While thinking about crowdfunding, Thomas was struck by an idea. What if he could set the world record for the world’s longest guitar lesson as a means of encouraging donations? It would be an official attempt which was adjudicated by Guinness World Records.
They aimed to raise £24,000 ($41,254.14) which would enable them to bring guitar tuition to 200 vulnerable adults in a twelve month period.
When asked about the impact crowdfunding had on their organisation, Thomas said, “Crowdfunder gave it direction. If we hadn’t had that serendipitous meeting with Simon and Murry I know we wouldn’t have raised the money that we raised.”
Their campaign also caught the eye of several famous faces including Stevie Wonder who commented, “It is really important to make music accessible to all. The ground breaking World Record guitar lesson attempt is a great initiative and a small stepping stone on the way to enabling visually impaired people to learn an instrument.”
In the end, their campaign raised £21,648 ($37,211.24) from 176 supporters. This included a match-funding grant of £10,000 ($17,189.23) from one of Crowdfunder UK’s funding partners. Through the UK Connected Communities initiative, Trust for London—a charitable foundation working to tackle poverty & inequality in London—aims to help organisations make an impact in the city.
On the funding, Thomas told us, “I was able to go to the people who had put money in and say for every £5 ($8.59) you put in it has just been turned into £10 ($17.19). It was an incredible incentive and something people should explore.”
He went on to say, “We are going to be working with youth groups in the outer ring of London where there are less resources. So we’re going to take that money and take a team of people and go launch some music projects in those areas.”
Since their campaign closed, Thomas and the Guitar Social team have since set the Guinness World Record for the longest guitar lesson. It involved teaching 240 people in a 24 hour time period. He explained, “It was a cool and horrific experience. It was incredible as loads of people came down for it and even at four in morning we had 20 people there.”
In the next twelve months, the Guitar Social will be delivering instruments and tuition to 200 people which translates to thousands of hours of tuition.
Before he left Thomas told us, “Whatever we do in future we know that we will be doing it alongside Crowdfunder. It’s just an amazing organisation and Crowdfunder enables average Joes to get their acts together and raise enough to make a dent in their individual plans.”
For thirty years, a charity in the United Kingdom has been empowering young people and giving them the opportunity to have their contributions valued and their dreams and aspirations achieved. Though, to continue changing lives, desperate help was needed from the crowd.
For some, a happy and healthy future can be difficult to visualise. Based at a Scottish farm in the UK, Stable Life uses the connection between horses and disadvantaged young people to make a real difference in their lives. By offering a calm, safe, and caring environment, this riding school allows young people to build trusting and respectful relationships, enabling them to reflect on their current situation and develop positive coping strategies.
Over the last five years alone, Stable Life has worked with over 450 vulnerable young people, using horses as a vehicle to build a more positive future. Through Stable Life’s services, 85% of the people they work with show increased self confidence, 84% have improved relationships, and 43 pupils secured college placements.
Though, the service they provide is dependent on a forty year old indoor riding school. After years of use, the building was in desperate need of renovations. The roof and windows leaked, the structure needed strengthening, and the inside was damp and cold.
Worried that if the building was left to deteriorate, they wouldn’t be able to continue supporting vulnerable young people, the Stable Life team made the decision to fundraise. They procured 90% of the funding and hoped to raise the final 10% ($17,007.42) through the Stable Life – Save Our School fundraiser which was set up through Crowdfunder UK.
Margaret Powell, Stable Life’s CEO, said, “We needed to raise quite a substantial amount of money to rebuild our Indoor Riding School and we had managed to secure quite a bit through grants but also wanted to fundraise. We had been hearing about crowdfunding for a while and saw it as a new, positive way to raise money quite quickly.”
A helping hand from Crowdfunder’s industry leading experts
On the coaching, Margaret said, “The coaching was invaluable. Without the help from Emmi we wouldn’t have had a successful campaign. Having someone who was able to give you advice, share the knowledge and support you every step of the way is crucial for a successful outcome. It wasn’t till we ran through everything with Emmi that we truly understood what was involved and how much preplanning we needed to think about and do.”
Emmi, their expert coach, said, “Stable Life were incredibly receptive to the idea of crowdfunding and were serious in planning and running their project. It was amazing to see how they engaged with their local community and got the whole town involved in their campaign! I worked very closely with them and am so proud of the outcome!”
Top crowdfunding tips from Stable Life’s CEO
After such a successful crowdfunding journey and a great experience with Crowdfunder UK’s expert coaches, Margaret left us with her advice for anyone thinking about raising funds through crowdfunding:
“Listen to your coach, really think through a marketing plan and be realistic about the amount of time you will need to spend during the campaign to publicise it. Stay positive and go for it!”
From shoppers switching to paper bags to companies encouraging the use of reusable coffee cups, people and organisations all over the world are taking part in the movement against plastic waste.
Across the globe, governments and local councils have been declaring climate emergencies and working on ways to make the world a greener and more sustainable place. In mid-2019, Canada followed suit. Put forward by then Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, the House of Commons passed a motion to declare a climate emergency.
In the United Kingdom, a woman from a small Scottish town called Dunblane decided to take matters into her own hands. She was fed up with seeing horrific pictures of the world’s wildlife drowning in plastic and wanted to do something which would have a positive impact on the planet and help to counteract the damage being seen on shows such as Blue Planet II which aired on BBC Earth, Cottage Life and T+E channel.
Rosemary Hunter listened to the cries of her community and realised that her town was missing something vital — their very own zero waste shop. After being inspired by other zero waste shops such as The Simple Weigh in Hartlepool, she envisioned setting up her own where she could help locals collectively consume less, spend less and, most importantly, make a difference.
This would bring a new concept to shopping on her local highstreet and, by setting up as a social enterprise, it would give the opportunity for all profits to be reinvested back into the community.
After securing the premises, Rosemary still had a lot to do to make her zero waste store a sustainable hub in the centre of her town.
In August 2019, she turned to crowdfund.ca’s UK platform, Crowdfunder, and set up a fundraising campaign to raise £10,000 ($17,007.42). This money would allow her to refurbish the building and purchase stock, scales, dispensers, a fridge and freezer, shelving, and gravity bins. She also conducted a survey to find out what her community wanted the shop to sell so she could appeal to as many locals as possible.
Through Crowdfund Scotland, an initiative run by crowdfund.ca’s UK branch, Rosemary attended a crowdfunding workshop and received plenty of advice and information on how to utilise the power of the crowd. She explained, “I realised from that how [crowdfunding] could be used to help start up the business. It seemed like a great way to assess interest in the business and also a way to promote the idea before opening the shop. So apart from raising capital to start it was also about promoting the idea both in the local community and further afield.”
Rosemary explained, “The coaching was invaluable. Jenny was very thorough in explaining what to do and how to plan the whole process. Doing a considerable amount of planning before launching was essential and several of the things that were recommended I wouldn’t have thought to do without support. I don’t think I would have achieved nearly as much without that planning and preparation. It’s a lot of effort but very much worthwhile.”
She went on to say, “Jenny was able to review my page before I went live and give suggestions on how to improve it. So not only helping with the planning but also with practical tips on what makes a good page that will attract more support It’s also helpful to have someone to keep the momentum going so you have a task to complete and you know someone will check up on you to make sure you’ve done it. No slouching!!”
A community impact
With an outpouring of support on her project page, Rosemary knew she was on the right track. One supporter wrote, “This is a fantastic idea on so many levels including helping our high street whilst helping the environment. So pleased you’re doing this. Good luck and well done.”
Rosemary said, “I am confident that the new shop will be well supported in the community and that the social aims of helping people to move to a more sustainable lifestyle can be achieved. There has been a huge local support so far, with lots of different groups asking me to speak to them or to be part of the shop. I have around a dozen volunteers already offering to help out and it looks like we may receive additional funding to push other parts of the project forward. It will be exciting to see how things have progressed over the next year.”
Since her Crowdfunder closed successfully in August 2019, Rosemary has refurbished her premises and opened Weigh Ahead to the public. Her stock includes pasta, pulses, reusable nappies, and non-plastic household items!
After smashing both her original and stretch target, Rosemary left us with some top tips to inspire others to use crowdfunding as a way of raising funds for their business or community mission.
“Plan plan plan, review, review, review and then launch. Try to create a buzz for the project before you start so that people are excited for your launch. Be prepared to put a lot of hours into it but if you do that, and you have a great idea, then people will support you.”