Givealittle builds it, waits for more funders to come

Social crowdfunding platform Givealittle has seen a stunning rise in money raised recently, with average funds raised per month having grown by about 20 times from levels seen two years ago. And now the platform is all spruced up for greater growth, with a revamped web engine ready to take on higher traffic with the rising popularity of social crowdfunding.

The site experienced a dramatic rise in traffic after a massive outpouring of financial support for good Samaritan Lucy Knight who suffered serious injury while trying to help an old lady being robbed. Some 5,084 people donated $269,934 for Knight’s cause through the platform.

“When we first took over, the platform (helped) raised between $50,000 and $60,000 per month. We are now doing $50,000 to $60,000 per day. On average, we are doing around $1.2 million per month and we are heading more towards a more general, mass market now,” says general manager of the Spark Foundation, Lynne Le Gros. 

It is on track, she says, to help social fund raising of about $15 million in 2015, up from $7.5m in 2013, and $1.8m in 2012. “We have big ambitions for the same kind of pace for the next five years,” she says, adding this is out of the total size of the giving market, of around $1.46 billion currently.

The growth forecast means the need for a more scalable platform, she says. “We want to provide more capability, to keep improving and to ensure the system provides transparency (of the process of how money is being donated).”

Givealittle was founded in 2007 by Nathalie Whitaker who grew it to $2.4 million in donations before it was acquired by Telecom Foundation (now Spark Foundation) in November 2012. The foundation funds Givealittle at around $800,000 per annum, covering all its operational cost. Whitaker is still involved, providing support and development of the platform.

The newly revamped website (it also has a new logo) aims to give the platform the flexibility to scale up in preparation of the growth in social funding. It does not charge any fees for the fund raising but has a policy of “all or nothing” for fundraisers in the style of other platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo (typically, both domestic and international platforms charge a minimum five percent service fee). This means those raising money who do not reach their funding target do not get anything.

One of the more important features of the new site is the transparency it provides to donors as the process of fund raising gets underway. Le Gros says in the case of  Lucy Knight, donors were flocking to the page, regularly checking on the status of the campaign with the intense media focus on Knight.

“We found that when something’s popular, such as the Lucy Knight campaign, people were regularly checking, wanting to know the new total. So the new site has a real time donation counter to cater to that.”

The live reporting feature adds peace of mind to the donors. There are also features built around providing verifications, another confidence booster among fundraisers that there are right checks and processes in place, she says.

The beauty of social crowdfunding, she says, is the process is non-judgemental. Anyone can put up an appeal for funding for a cause. Some causes can be controversial, and lead to lots of debate but in the end, it is the donor’s personal choice, Le Gros adds. Although Givealittle is a social crowdfunding platform, entrepreneurs have also used it to raise money for business ideas.

How then does it stack up in terms of contributing to return on investments for a big corporate such as Spark? Le Gros says the social project is definitely a positive contributor to creating a positive corporate culture, one that reflects a genuine care for the community, which is different to the hard-sell approach large corporate entities often take.

“We are proud to be associated with these causes, such as the one for Lucy (Knight). It is lovely for our people, our staff, to show how we care.” 

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