THE new oven at the Leeds Bread Co-op is in use three times a
week, turning out sourdough bread, with a weekly special loaf such
as "roast potato and rosemary", or "raisin and walnut". The Co-op
is a small group of bakers who produce bread in what they see as a
socially and environmentally responsible way, making it affordable,
and available to a wide range of people.
Setting up the new bakery involved many costs, and the Co-op
managed to attract £9000 support from the Leeds Legacy Fund, as
well as £28,000 loan stock through its website, social media, and
word of mouth.
A good-quality and reliable oven was a key requirement. The
Co-op saw this as an opportunity to attract more finance, through
crowdfunding, while at the same time building their community
profile through the site. They turned to the website Peoplefund.it
to source the £8000 required.
On Peoplefund.it, backers pledge funds towards a project in
return for related rewards, and the satisfaction of feeling that
they have supported a good cause. For the lowest pledge of £5,
Leeds Bread Co-op offered a reward of a postcard and an invitation
to their launch party. For £200 or more, a backer could learn to
bake a selection of breads, and then enjoy dinner for two at the
bakery. The "crowd" could also pledge their skills, such as
accountancy, or bread delivery.
The Leeds Bread Co-op had 45 days to raise the total funds, or
they would receive nothing and the backers would get their money
back. But, through a mix of friends, the local community, and
anonymous donors, they passed their target with 22 days to spare.
After much hard work setting up, they started baking in July, and
are now currently delivering bread to subscribers by means of
pick-up points across Leeds, besides selling at local markets.
A feature-length film made by Blue Hippo Media, Greenbelt at
40: The film, which brought to life 40 years of the Greenbelt
Festival and where it is going next - shown at this year's
festival, and now touring film festivals in the UK and abroad - was
also part-funded through crowdfunding, this time on the American
crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.
Blue Hippo Media picked the site partly because, unlike some
sites, it enables fund-raisers to keep the money that is raised,
even if the target is not reached.
It also allows fund-raisers to exceed their target, which
Greenbelt did, raising £18,205 in 40 days -more than its £15,000
goal - offering rewards for donations from £20 to £5000, including
a DVD in advance, and a seat at the London test screening for
CHRIS BUCKINGHAM, of the crowdfunding research agency
Minivation, says that: "Crowdfunding is about a community coming
together to achieve a common objective." In that sense, it is
something the Church has been doing since the Acts of the
Crowdfunding takes traditional fund-raising online, however, and
utilises the potential of internet and social-media sites to
communicate aims and receive funds. Originally a way for charities
to raise funds, it is now being used by entrepreneurs and
organisations to raise financial backing for projects.
Community-funding forums operate using a variety of different
business models, Mr Buckingham says. Just Giving, which may be a
familiar way of raising sponsorship, and Solar Schools, used by a
number of Church of England schools, are examples of the donation
model. Backers simply donate funds to a good cause.
The ready-made online platforms Peoplefund.it and Indiegogo use
the rewards model, as does another well-known site,
In interest and equity models, backers provide a loan, or buy a
stake in the project, and expect a return in the form of interest,
or a share of the profits. For investors who wish to get a return
through making ethical and social capital investments, popular
sites include Crowdcube, and Abundance Generation.
One of the two churches in the parish of St Mary's, Stoke
Newington, in London - the Old Church - is a well-loved but
decaying and under-used building. The parish is working to turn it
into an arts centre for the community, in partnership with Stoke
Newington School, Hackney Youth Services, and the community arts
group Common Air Theatre.
The PCC has raised the money for the main building work, but is
seeking crowdfunding finance to raise £11,060 to help furnish the
space. The group has registered on Spacehive, which uses the
donations model, and specifically profiles civic and
FOR churches or charities thinking about crowdfunding, Mr
Buckingham warns that it is vital to communicate how the values of
your project and organisation align with those of your target
"The success of your project will depend more on its perceived
social values - whether it is adding value to your local community,
and not the size of your church," he says.
For Leeds Bread Co-op, this meant showing, clearly, the lack of
availability of "real" bread in Leeds, and the contribution that
their project would make to food-education and health. For the St
Mary's Arts Centre (SMART) project, it meant demonstrating that
they had listened to the community groups in Stoke Newington, and
were meeting their needs and wants.
Simon Garrod, of Leeds Bread Co-op, thinks that it would have
been harder to pitch to the "crowd" for more nebulous start-up
costs rather than one large, tangible oven.
He also suggests a useful rule of thumb for estimating how much
to attempt to raise: "Research shows that about 25 per cent of
funds in successful crowdfunding projects comes from people who
already know the project. So, work out how many supporters you
already have, and how many pounds they would give, and multiply it
to get your total."
Mr Buckingham says that the business model and the size of the
project are the main factors in selecting the right crowdfunding
platform. There are also some regional and sector-specific sites,
such as Folk 2 Folk in Cornwall, or Microgenius for renewables.
Mr Garrod found that Peoplefund.it provided more support than
other larger platforms. He says that it is also important to look
at the small print, such as the fees charged by the website, and
any charges for transactions. "Consider whether the site allows you
to keep the money, even if you don't quite meet the target, perhaps
for a higher fee percentage, or whether the site is 'all or
nothing', like Peoplefund.it, in which case think about the risks
and implications of not meeting the target," he says.
But, first and foremost, Mr Buckingham says, you need to
consider your crowd. "People give to, or invest in, projects for
two broad reasons: rationally, according to the project values and
benefits; and irrationally, driven by the 'Me, too' factor. So it
is really important to build early momentum, and this can be
achieved only by building a strong network of supporters in advance
of the crowdfunding launch."
Mr Buckingham thinks that churches enjoy a strong advantage
here, as most already have a network through their congregations
and local community links.
But Pip Piper, of Blue Hippo Media, warns against making
assumptions about where the audience is, online. "Although the
Greenbelt Festival already had a big following on social media, it
still needed to learn how to tap into the 'crowd'. Churches should
think laterally about connecting to other audiences - try to create
conversations online [that] people want to get engaged with."
On its website, Spacehive advises getting supporters to pledge
on day one of a crowdfunding launch, in order to create a sense of
momentum. If it is permitted, get supporters to "pledge" the funds
raised by other fund-raising efforts, too, such as jumble sales and
coffee mornings. The Pendock Church of England Primary School page
on the Solar Schools website shows a wide range of funding sources,
from small individual donations to the Christmas Fayre, and large
grants from companies.
Regular updates about successful grant applications and other
project progress should also be provided. "People want to be part
of something vibrant," Mr Piper says. "They need to see activity on
the page, lots of news, photos, videos, and comments. It's going to
be time-consuming. You need people who know how to use YouTube,
Facebook, and Twitter to push your audience to your crowdfunding
Mr Garrod found that Twitter worked better than Facebook: "River
Cottage really helped. If you can, get picked up by a much bigger
Twitter-user that will champion you. The local press was less
useful, but don't blitz all your PR straight away - you need a
steady flow - and keep some back to the end, to get you over the
For a church that wants to raise a small amount, Mr Piper thinks
crowdfunding is a large hammer to crack a small nut. The record for
the amount raised through a campaign is £10.2 million, but many
requests are for a few thousand pounds. Spacehive caters well for
small civic projects.
There are also benefits over and above the financial resources.
Crowdfunding is an opportunity for churches to interact with their
communities in a new way, and to gain new supporters locally and
nationally - even internationally.
Some platforms enable people to pledge their skills as well as
their money. So it could also be a useful demonstration that, when
making large grant applications, the church is seeking other
funding, and also engaging with community needs.
Clare Bryden is an honorary research fellow of the
University of Exeter.
1. Pick your model and platform
To research which crowdfunding site best suits your
needs, visit www.crowdingin.com. Consider the types of projects on
the site, and fees and funding deadlines. With a rewards model,
think about how you are going to deliver the rewards. With interest
or equity models, consider talking to a business adviser
2. Budget carefully
Consider the costs of the campaign and project. Take
into account site costs and transaction charges, as well as costs
and delivery of rewards.
3. Make a good pitch
Look at successful pitches, and note why their pages
work. Use images or short footage to enliven your page and tell
your story. Include people connected to the campaign, such as the
person behind it.
4. Create a "crowd"
Work to engage potential funders before launching.
Use mailings, blogs, and social media several months before. If
possible, involve your "crowd" in the design of your project.
Target social-media figures who can influence your crowd. Do not
neglect traditional media.
5. Keep momentum
Most sites require you to set a time limit for your
campaign. Plan in advance when key events are to happen, such as
updates, marketing pushes, or target milestones. Get supporters to
pledge early, and approach your target groups only when the
momentum increases. Update your campaign pages regularly, and
respond quickly to any comments and questions.
6. Plan the end
Have a "Plan B" if you fail to raise the target. You
can always try again. If successful, deliver on promises made,
including what happens to any extra money. Success is likely to be
of interest to local media, and is a good way of ensuring a bigger
"crowd" for your next campaign.