The future of regular giving is rockbands

After delivering a pretty good social cause event in Brighton (if I do say so myself), we were approached by a guest who was quite concerned about this whole “crowdfunding” thing.

“Crowdfunding is all well and good,” he said, “but nonprofits should really be focusing on more regular forms of income, like regular giving. It gives them certainty, rather than just fundraising for projects.”

In the first evolution of charity crowdfunding, this was a fair criticism. But in the current state of play, some innovative campaigners are using crowdfunding to create an even better version of regular giving. First, while regular giving is often seen as a goldmine for charities, it’s normally an average experience for donors. You’re ‘acquired’ by street fundraisers, door knockers, telemarketers; sent your welcome pack and signed up to the newsletter until you make the new year’s resolution of inbox zero and choose to unsubscribe or cancel over the phone and are then passed on to the recovery team.

The main complaint that donors have isn’t the sales tactics, it’s the lack of clarity they have around how their particular donation is being used.

Compare that to what one of our campaigners does.

Forever Friends Animal Rescue has a queue of animals who’ve come into their care that they feature on Chuffed.org. On 9th April 2016, it was Jacko, the sweet Jack Russell Terrier who had sadly been hit by a car. They needed to raise $2,800 for Jacko’s surgery: everyone could see exactly how much they’d raised at any point in time, how much they needed to raise, and who else has donated. In less than a month, twenty-two supporters came together and funded the surgery.

Forever Friends

On 29th May, Shannon from Forever Friends reported back about the surgery to all the donors.

First UpdateImage Update

Then on 5th July, donors received this update. Jack found a forever home!

Campaign UpdateThe forever home

For the next month, Forever Friends introduced us to the sweet two year old Staffy mix named Nugget. Once again donors raised the funds because they knew that their donations were going to have an impact.

This kind of transparency is infinitely more inspiring than X% of my donation going to the cause and that’s what keeps them coming back to give again and again and again.

All of Forever Friend's Campaigns

Now of course, it’s not the exact same individuals funding each campaign – donors dip in and out. Rather than causing ‘donor fatigue’, it has the opposite effect, with every cycle the donor base grows. The fanbase expands as supporters share the campaign and refer their friends – I like to think of it like a rock band.

Rock bands put on a concert and their fans turn up. But then their fans go away and tell their friends about how great a band this is, so next time there’s a concert, they bring their friends, and the band’s fanbase grows. Of course, not every fan comes to every show, but overtime, they build a following that gives them a regular income.

That’s what the future of regular giving looks like – a rock band.

We’re hiring: Front-End Developer (Sydney)

Chuffed.org Workshops

Front-end Developer (Sydney)

tl;dr

Front-end developer job in rapidly-growing, VC-funded, social-cause startup, changing the world.

Who is Chuffed.org?

We’re a purpose-led company that’s transforming how people think about charities around the world. Instead of thinking of the charity muggers harassing you on your way to work, we’re making the face of charity awesome, exciting projects that people want to be part of.

Since launching in October 2013, we’ve raised over $13M for 4,500 projects in 20 countries. We’ve reunited a Somali refugee mother with her son that she hadn’t seen in 23 years; we’ve helped legalise medicinal marijuana for the terminally ill; we’ve transformed how the Vanuatu Government does disaster relief… and a lot more.

What you’ll be doing?

You’ll be joining our Sydney-based team as we grow to get our product from thousands of campaigners to hundreds of thousands. You’ll be responsible for:

  • working with the engineering team to build new ways for social cause campaigners to build communities and raise funds and new personalised experiences for donors
  • implementing the experiments and new products that the Growth team wants to test – this will be a mixture of front-end/design work as well as building back end features:
    • Possible activities include: creating landing pages, changing user flows, improving email designs, improving tracking, creating adaptive education in our campaign editor and more
  • instrumenting our app to collect the right data to measure the impact of experiments, gain deeper insights on how users are engaging with our product and where they’re leaking out. We use Segment, Mixpanel and Google Analytics, but are open to others
  • working with the engineering team to ship code every day

As you get more familiar with the product and our customers, you’ll be providing input on what growth initiatives we should pursue too.

 

What we’re looking for

Culture

  • You care: we’re a purpose-led company and we love working with people who care about the world around them
  • You learn: because there’s always another JS framework around the corner and a better way of making our customers happy
  • You play nice: because we all love coming to work and we want you to too

Technical

  • Experience in JS/HTML/CSS (mid-level, about 3 years)
  • Familiarity with PHP (we use Laravel) or a willingness to learn
  • Experience with Angular, React or other modern JS frameworks

Bonus points

  • You’re data driven, curious about what customers value and why they behave in certain ways
  • You’ve worked with the non-profit/charity/advocacy sector before

The details

  • Based in Darlinghurst, Sydney
  • Competitive salary package: we’ll normally pay a mix of cash salary and equity
  • You’ll report to the CEO (London), and work closely with our engineering and growth teams in Sydney, Melbourne and London

 

Why work for us

People come for the social mission, they stay for the team. We’re a fast-growing social enterprise, that’s backed by some amazing tech investors (Blackbird VC and Bevan Clark) but retains our social mission at our core. We even created our own legal structure over in Australia – the Social Benefit Company – to let us do that. We’ve worked in the social sector for years and changing how it raises money for the amazing work that it does is something that we deeply care about. We’re the place where you can do work that you care about and be part of a fast-moving company at the same time.

You can read more here:

 

How to apply

Send us an email to [email protected] with your CV or any links you have to apps you’ve built, github repos, portfolios. We love getting applications that talk about what you’ve built and why you care.

Applications close when we find the right person.

Architects of Hope

Following the US Executive Order halting refugees and migrants at the end of January, I sent this email to the Chuffed.org Team:

Team,

As you all would know, two weekends ago in the US, President Trump issued an executive order to halt all US refugee intake for 120 days, bar Syrian refugees from the US indefinitely and severely restrict travel to the US of citizens (including dual nationals) of seven majority-Muslim countries.

Upon hearing this order and reflecting on its effects, I spent much of that weekend buried under the weight of fear. It wasn’t just the act of turning our backs on people in their hour of need that triggered this, or the fact that green card permanent residents were no longer able to return home to their families, but the built in ideology that foreigners, and in particular Muslims, should be judged a threat until proven otherwise.

As a perpetual foreigner, that ideology terrifies me.

The fear that I felt in response to this policy pales in comparison to the fear felt by people fleeing for their lives. It is wrong to arbitrarily deny them the hope that a life in our countries brings, especially after years of vetting, waiting and despair. To then treat them as a threat is undeniably callous.

__

In the year I was born, race riots ravaged Sri Lanka. People of one race judged another to be a threat and burned them on the streets. That’s what happens when a Government implicitly or explicitly sanctions fear of a particular group.

In a more welcoming time, we were lucky to immigrate to Australia, which took pride in its multicultural identity. To be sure, it wasn’t perfect; it did debate each wave of migration but it didn’t define its national conversation around deciding who they let into the country and the circumstances in which they came.

As an immigrant, that generosity that Australia showed – that idea that I was welcome and not a threat – created a sense of hope. Hope that I would be treated fairly. Hope that people cared about me. Hope that even though we didn’t know each other, we were on the same side. Hope as an immigrant is a powerful emotion. It’s the thing that gives you the ability to contribute, to integrate, to learn and to create.

Chuffed.org was born out of hope.

And immigrants.

The majority of the Chuffed.org team live in a country that they weren’t born in. For those who were, everyone has at least one parent that wasn’t born in that country. We’re a team of immigrants, who work every day to make the countries we call home better for everyone.

As immigrants, we have to ask ourselves, how do we respond to what’s happening in the US – with hope or with fear?

It’s easy to let fear guide us. It is fear that guides our urge to shout at people who we disagree with. It is fear that guides our desire to flee to the comfort of our social media echo chamber. Fighting fear with fear is momentarily satisfying but that’s about it.

The only way to overcome fear in the long term is to consciously create a world of hope for everyone. Especially for our fellow citizens whom we don’t see eye-to-eye with. That’s why we need to build a community that supports and encourages people who bring hope to the world – particularly to those who need it the most.

The Anne Moon‘s who bring hope to refugees imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru, the Phili and Rob’s who bring hope to the homeless freezing on London’s streets, and the Jeanna’s who bring hope to the women of Alaska so that their rights will be protected. These amazing people, and thousands more like them, are our architects of hope.

If we can design the world with their plans to guide us, we’ll create a fear-proof world,  one that can’t burn down.

Prashan Paramanathan, CEO Chuffed.org

Hey Australia, we’re getting your donations to you faster

There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your campaign funds hit your bank account. And we want you to have that feeling even faster than before.

To date, when supporters donated via credit and debit cards to your campaign, you had to wait 5-15 days after your campaign ended before you got your funds. That’s changing today for all new campaigns.

So what’s changing, exactly?

For all new campaign that start from today, donations made via credit and debit cards to Australian campaigns will be transferred to your nominated bank account in 2-day rolling cycles. That means all the donations made to you today, will be sent to you in 2-days time – with the exception of weekends and public/bank holidays. If that’s too frequent for you, you can change this to weekly or monthly.

How do the changes work?

In order to make this happen, we’ve partnered with Stripe – a global payments platform. We’ve actually been using Stripe in the background for all our credit and debit card payments for a number of years already.

Going forward, when you start a campaign in Australia and choose credit/debit card payments, you’ll now need to create and connect an account with Stripe. It’s a <5 minute process and is integrated into our system, so you’ll barely notice.

Then, everything works as normal. Someone donates to your campaign. That donation gets transferred to your Stripe account and then Stripe transfers the donations to your bank account automatically in 2-day rolling cycles.

No more waiting around until after your campaign ends to get your money.

Magic!

 

Some FAQs

1. What if I’ve got a campaign running in Australia already?

For existing campaigns, you’ll still receive your credit/debit card donations 5-15 days after your campaign ends. When you create your next campaign, you’ll be on the new system and need to connect a Stripe account so that we can send your funds to you more frequently.

2. Will this effect non-Australian campaigns?

No. Full steam ahead for campaigns in all our other supported countries. This brings Australia in line with what we’ve been doing everywhere else for a while.

3. Who are Stripe?

Stripe are a global payments system that handles billions of dollars of payments every year around the world. They’re also incredibly reliable and lovely people. You can read more about Chuffed + Stripe here: Stripe leaves Aussie Non-Profit Platform Chuffed.

4. How do I get my donations less frequently?

Sometimes getting transactions into your bank account every day can get really messy – particularly for the accountants – and you’ll want to receive funds less frequently. To do that, you’ll need to:

– Log into your Stripe.com account (www.stripe.com)

  • Click on your name in the top right
  • Click on ‘Account Settings’
  • Click on ‘Transfers’
  • In the ‘Transfer Schedule’ click on ‘Change Schedule’
  • Choose the frequency you want and click on ‘Save Schedule’

All future transfers will then be on the new schedule that you chose.

2016 on Chuffed.org

As 2016 came to an end, all my social media feeds were flooded with doom. Status updates breathed a heavy sighs of relief, ‘Thank God 2016 is over’. The posts pointed to Trump, Brexit, David Bowie, Carrie Fischer, George Michael, Prince… as a sort of doomsday list, dredging out a feeling of hopelessness.

But those lists miss a lot of amazing things that happened in 2016. They skip over the people who witnessed misfortunes and still had the courage to act. They miss the people who did the right thing, even when the odds were stacked against them. You weren’t on those list.

2016 was a huge year of hope on Chuffed.org. It was a year where communities banded together and started to build the foundations for a society that we can be.

In 2016, you supported these wonderful women

You created the first Aboriginal women’s health retreat based on Indigenous medicineYou supported our best female scientists to become our future leaders in Antarctica

In 2016, you supported refugees stuck in the crisis

In 2016, you supported the lives of our animal friends

In 2016, you supported 2,600 campaigns

And that’s not even scratching the bottom of the barrel! In 2016 you supported nearly 2,600 campaigns because they appealed to your sense of justice and vision for a better world.

It is with absolute certainty that I predict (I admit, that’s a bit of an oxymoron) that this community, our community, will make 2017 a year in which the world moves forward in the right direction.

Because we know, that whatever happens, you’ll band together as a community and help each other.

We’re hiring: Front-End Developer (Growth Team, London)

Chuffed.org Workshops

Front-end Developer (Growth Team, London)

tl;dr

Front-end developer job in rapidly-growing, funded, social-cause startup, changing the world.

Who is Chuffed.org?

We’re a purpose-led company that’s transforming how people think about charities around the world. Instead of thinking of the charity muggers harassing you on your way to work, we’re making the face of charity awesome, exciting projects that people want to be part of.

Since launching in October 2013, we’ve raised over $10M/£6M for 3,000 projects in 20 countries. We’ve reunited a Somali refugee mother with her son that she hadn’t seen in 23 years; we’ve helped legalise medicinal marijuana for the terminally ill; we’ve transformed how the Vanuatu Government does disaster relief… and a lot more.

What you’ll be doing?

You’ll be joining our new Growth team in London whose main goal is to get our product from thousands of campaigners to hundreds of thousands. You’ll be responsible for:

  • implementing the experiments and new products that the Growth team wants to test – this will be a mixture of front-end/design work as well as building back end features:
    • Possible activities include: creating landing pages, changing user flows, improving email designs, improving tracking, creating adaptive education in our campaign editor and more
  • instrumenting our app to collect the right data to measure the impact of experiments, gain deeper insights on how users are engaging with our product and where they’re leaking out. We use Segment, Mixpanel and Google Analytics, but are open to others
  • working with the engineering team to ship code every day

As you get more familiar with the product and our customers, you’ll be providing input on what growth initiatives we should pursue too.

In addition to this, we expect the entire team to do customer support at different periods of the year as we believe that this is the best way to understand the needs of our customers and the issues that they have in their lives.

What we’re looking for

Culture

  • You care: we’re a purpose-led company and we love working with people who care about the world around them
  • You learn: because there’s always another JS framework around the corner and a better way of creative value for our customers
  • You play nice: because we all love coming to work and we want you to too

Technical

  • Expert knowledge of JS/HTML/CSS (5 years+), and be familiar with PHP (Laravel)
  • Experience with Angular, React or other modern JS frameworks
  • Design and UX sensibilities and can play around in Photoshop
  • Awareness of cross-browser compatibility issues and client-side performance considerations

Bonus points

  • You’re data driven, curious about what customers value and why they behave in certain ways
  • You understand A/B testing, cohort analysis, AARRR, high tempo testing and have implemented them previously
  • You’ve worked with the non-profit/charity/advocacy sector before

The details

  • Based in London, UK: Shoreditch or Hackney area
  • Competitive salary package: we’ll normally pay a mix of cash salary and equity
  • You’ll report to the CEO (London), and work closely with our Growth Marketer (London) and Customer Advocate (Melbourne). You’ll also interface in with the Engineering Team (Melbourne, Sydney).

 

Why work for us

People come for the social mission, they stay for the team. We’re a fast-growing social enterprise, that’s backed by some amazing tech investors (Blackbird VC and Bevan Clark) but retains our social mission at our core. We even created our own legal structure over in Australia – the Social Benefit Company – to let us do that. We’ve worked in the social sector for years and changing how it raises money for the amazing work that it does is something that we deeply care about. We’re the place where you can do work that you care about and be part of a fast-moving company at the same time.

You can read more here:

 

How to apply

Send us an email to [email protected] with the subject line: “Front-end Developer (Growth): Your Name” with your CV, any links you have to apps you’ve built, github repos, portfolios. If you feel comfortable including your current salary too, that’d help. We’ll generally pay a combined salary + equity package.

What we’ve learnt from over 100,000 donations on Chuffed.org

In December 2012, when we first pitched the idea of Chuffed.org to the Telstra Foundation, our Big Hairy Audacious Goal was to raise $10 Million across our first five years of operation. I remember writing it in our presentation and thinking it was so outrageously large as to be unbelievable. At the time, we had no product, no traction and no customers.

Today, less than three years since we launched, this happened:

The path to $10M

We are so proud of the thousands of campaigners who’ve chosen to use Chuffed.org to do everything from reuniting a refugee family who’d been separated for 23 years to helping stop coal seam gas exploration across Australia to getting a ban put on greyhound racing.

To celebrate, we decided to do something decidely geeky and delve into those 100,000+ donations to see what they could tell us about donors who give to crowdfunding campaigns.

Here’s our five fun (and sometimes surprising facts):

 

Fact 1. Women give more than men

As a man writing this, I find this both highly unsurprising, but also a tiny bit disappointing for my gender. I’ve had so many debates about why this gender split happens, but if you’ve got any theories, drop them into the comments.

Women donate more than men

 

Fact 2: Online giving isn’t a young person’s thing

I hear far too often that the growth in crowdfunding is because millenials are all moving online and charities need to adapt so that they don’t miss out on this next generation of donors. As it turns out, that’s not quite true. Charities need to learn how to crowdfund because the majority of their middle age and older donors prefer it.

 

Fact 3: People anywhere in the world are happy to give to your campaign

Ok, so we’re not holding our breath on North Korean donors flooding onto Chuffed.org, but hey, maybe one day. We’ve only run campaigns in 20 countries, yet donors have come from 152. The fact that your campaign can be based out of a country town and get donors from dozens of countries around the world – that’s what excites us.

 

Fact 4: Thursday’s the day for giving

Alright, we’re opening this one up for conspiracy theories. Maybe more people get paid on Thursday, maybe it’s because it’s nearly Friday, maybe it’s the day I most like surfing for crowdfunding campaigns on the internet, but well, there’s something noticeably more generous about Thursdays.

Day of the week for donations

 

Fact 5: People love a bit of pre-bedtime donating

This is probably my favourite. Right before bed, people pull out their phones, and well, donate. We suspect that they saw it at work when they got in – the 9am peak, check before they go to bed, notice that the donation total has jumped up, get FOMO, and grab their credit card.

People are most likely to donate at 9pm

Thank you again from all of us here at Chuffed.org. We can’t thank you enough for believing in the dream and trusting us with your projects. Can’t wait for the next ten million.

– Prashan, Seb, Dave, Bec and the Chuffed.org family

 

PS, if you have better theories on these donor behaviour stats, tell us in the comments below

 

A Crowdfunding Platform that Makes You A Better Campaigner

A few months ago, I was talking to one of our investors, Bevan Clarke, about the need for educating non-profits about crowdfunding and how to run the best campaigns. While many, many non-profits, charities, community groups really wanted to branch away from traditional fundraising, there was just a lot to learn about how to construct an effective campaign page and how to market it.

Our approach had been 1-on-1 coaching sessions, the conferences, the workshops, content, but Bevan made a remark in that conversation though that stuck in my head:

The best products teach a customer how to use them through the process of using them

For us, the idea of a crowdfunding platform that taught non-profits how to be better crowdfunders as they were creating their campaign has always been the holy grail.

There’s only so many customers we can reach through 1-on-1 coaching sessions, conferences, workshops. But every customer uses our editor. And if that editor can show them what the best campaigners like them have done, and how they can improve their campaign, not only would our campaigners raise more money, we would be delivering our social mission better.

So that’s what we set out to do. Figure out how to condense all the learnings from 3,000 campaigns into 1 editor.

Welcome to Chuffed.org version Banksia.

We started the process with:

  • a set of usability tests (thanks to our testers – your brutal feedback was awesome);
  • the experience of 1000s of collective hours providing support, coaching and guidance to our customers; and
  • a bunch of data on what successful campaigns look like

While the data told us the endpoint that we wanted to get campaigners to, the cumulative sum of individual customer interactions told us where they were starting from, what they cared about, and where they got stuck.

The changes

We made a heap of small usability and stability changes, took out every unnecessary field that we could, upgraded the password-free login system but the biggest change we made is Tippy.

Tippy the Tip Bot

As you type, Tippy – our advice bot – will come up to help guide you on each element of your campaign page. We’ll also link you to resources if you need to read a bit more on the topic. As we progress on this, the advice will adapt contextually to the type of campaign you’re running. It’ll also link you to campaigns that are like yours that you can be inspired by (read: copy). No more searching the internet for successful campaigns like yours or top 10 crowdfunding tip lists – it’s all in the editor.

We’ve still got a lot more that we want to do to make the experience even better, but we’re releasing this version now into beta testing to get your feedback first. We’ve selected a number of people to trial it – if you’d like be added to the list, just email us at [email protected] with the subject line ‘Add me to Banksia’.

 

Thanks for your support.

– Prashan, Seb, Dave, Bec and the Chuffed.org Family.

 

 

 

 

[Podcast] – Episode 2: Home STREAT Home

Summary

In Episode 2 of the Home STREAT Home podcast series we dig into STREAT’s second crowdfunding campaign as they battle through that perennial non-profit question: how much information do donors really want?

The full transcript is below, but here are top 3 highlights:

1. STREAT CEO, Bec Scott on why earnestness sucks in charity fundraising:

“Yeah I hate earnestness. I really, really hate it. If the only way we ever got you to become involved in something was just to make you feel so god damn guilty about living in a house or having your own home, that would be crazy”

2. Naomi from STREAT on why philanthropists should trust charities more:

“I feel like that pisses me off in general about philanthropy that donors want to say, “Well, here’s some money and I’d like you to do this with it,” rather than saying, “You know what, charity? You do great work. Here’s some money and I trust you to make a good decision about what to do with it ’cause you know much better than I do, how to use that money effectively.”

3. Ian from STREAT on the cheapest rent in Melbourne, ever:

“We were fortunate enough to have someone buy the property and gift us use of the property so that’s $2.5 million property that we’re able to use for the next 50 years for $5 a year”

 

Listen to the podcast here (17 min):

 

 

Here’s a lightly edited transcript

If you walk down Cromwell St in Collingwood, Melbourne, it feels like you’re walking past light industrial brick façade after light industrial brick façade. There’s a stream of roller doors that gives you the sense  you’re in a loading bay for a printing shop. But if you go far enough, there is one building that stands out.

Naomi: So the front of the building is actually an old manor house. I think it was built in the 1800s or maybe the early 1900s. But this is beautiful old manor house that was actually the largest brothel in Collingwood. And they’ve retained the entire facade and I think parts of the side of the building as well but a lot of the inside has been gutted.

Prashan: What does the front of the brothel look like?

Naomi: You would never guess it’s a brothel.

Prashan: Right now, as we record, the old manor house looks like the middle of a construction site, because, super-excitedly, it’s the site of STREAT’s newest and biggest venture – their brand new site, their Home STREAT Home. There’s a café, there’s a bakery, there’s a roaster, there’s all their offices, their training space – it’s the dream site that STREAT’s always wanted to build and it’s hard to understand just how big the site is.

How STREAT ended up with this  site is the stuff of non-profit fairy tales. Someone reads a media piece, calls them up, gets to know them, and then decides to buythem a $2.5M property to turn into a youth training academy. . Ok, I’m sure it was a bit more complicated than that, but that actually happened.

Here’s Ian from STREAT.

Ian: We were fortunate enough to have someone buy the property and gift us use of the property so that’s $2.5 million property that we’re able to use for the next 50 years for $5 a year. So that’s the first big win and that came purely from a media story. And the gentleman read that story and engaged with us the next week and has been our major backer and supporter since.

Prashan: Yup. now,  we could create a whole episode about that, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about what happened next.

As it turns out, getting gifted the use of a site for 50 years is great, but then there’s a whole heap of other expenses. When they first got the site, the whole place was still set up as a brothel. It was like they were getting ready for a night of action, and then everyone just hurriedly had to leave, leaving their leather, their poles and everything else you’d imagine in a brothel right there in place.

So STREAT had to knock down stuff, build new stuff, make sure other stuff stood up – which is all expensive. And so they managed to fundraise $1.5M in grants from trusts and foundations and raised another $2.5M in debt from NAB and Social Ventures Australia – making the grand total somewhere near $4M.

Now STREAT wants to run a new crowdfunding campaign to raise $100k for the final stage of the site – which, well, is hard because, as Ian so eloquently puts it:

Ian: A lot of people may well assume, “Well gosh, they’ve got the land, they’ve got the loan, they’ve built the place, they really don’t need the money,”

Prashan: So, how do you sell a $100k campaign for a $4M site? Today on Episode 2 of the Home STREAT Home podcast, we delve into exactly that question as we follow STREAT trying to figure it out. I’m Prashan from Chuffed.org, if you haven’t listened to Episode 1 of this podcast series, head to chuffed.org/podcasts and check it out first. Otherwise, stay tuned.

STREAT’s been thinking about this second crowdfunding campaign for a long time – remember their last one was four years ago.

Rebecca: We’ve known we’re going do a campaign for probably a year and half, so we always said, right near the very end of the build project, we wanna find a way that we can raise a lot of it will be for the money, but also just let everyone know that, “Hey, after years, and years, and years of hearing about this thing, it’s finally here,”

Prashan: Of course, things get in the way, money takes longer to raise, but in early January STREAT seconded in Naomi Barson whom you heard at the top of the episode to help them run the campaign.

Unlike the first campaign, where it was very clear what the money was going to build, this one was a lot more complicated, because well they could’ve chosen anything. They needed money for vans, they needed money for the bakery, they needed money for programs, for the fitout, for the café – the list was endless.

Naomi: We’re blessed that we got many, many options as to ways we could take that, be it bakery, be it focusing on trainees, be it impact, whatever it was. And it was really just nutting out what’s the one core idea we want to hinge this story on, and the rest will fall out from there.

Prashan: The quest was on, to find that one story. And there was a lot to choose from. Step one though was deciding whether they should be selling the higher-level vision, something like this:

Naomi:. Conscious consumerism, so the concept of changing lives through meals, which is Quarter STREAT. A fair go for all, highlighting that some people through no fault of their own start on the back foot and STREAT’s here to give them a fair go at education, a career, a life. Looking at hopelessness and youth homelessness, compassion, so again looking at poverty and disadvantage and something that STREAT can have a shot at remedying. Looking at inclusion, so everyone deserving to be included and STREAT contributing to the community in that way. About education and training and hospitality and giving them job-readiness skills and on the job training. Collective impact,

Prashan: … Or should they be selling the practical laundry list of what the money was going to buy:

Ian: I look through the entire construction activity and thought, “Maybe it could’ve been the solar panels, maybe it could be this, maybe it could be that.” So we went through those things. I’ve listed all, in general terms, all the things that we need to get it up and running. And there’s $100,000 or more where it could’ve been the two vehicles that we need. We need two second hand delivery vehicles, one refrigerated and one not, so it can deliver coffee and catering and bread and those sorts of things.

Prashan: Anyone who’s ever pitched a social good project knows this dilemma – do donors want to know exactly what their money is actually buying, line item by line item, or do they want to be part of a bigger vision of what those things actually sum up to  create?

The big picture vision camp normally argue that people want the emotional engagement, that sense of connection that a laundry list doesn’t provide. And that if you want the organization to create that vision, the best way is to just trust them to do it.

Naomi: And I feel like that pisses me off in general about philanthropy that donors want to say, “Well, here’s some money and I’d like you to do this with it,” rather than saying, “You know what, charity? You do great work. Here’s some money and I trust you to make a good decision about what to do with it ’cause you know much better than I do, how to use that money effectively.” And I feel like that, for people to genuinely give and genuinely be philanthropic, unless they’re involved in the sector they should just trust the charities to get on with their work. It’s like when you buy shares in a company, I guess you get a bit of a say, but you trust the way the CEO’s guiding the ship and you trust the board. And you hopefully trust the decisions they’re making. That’s why you invest.

Prashan: The other camp, the show me the budget people, argue that you have to give people transparency – you have to show them what their money is going towards.

Ian:. I’m more the practical side. I want people to know that what we’re doing here, the money’s going to go directly to purchasing and building some things which are really important.

Prashan: For the record, I think the tension is a good thing to have in an organization. Unsurprisingly, people need both, for slightly different reasons.

Donors get inspired by the big vision; that you’re doing something bold.  They want to be part of doing something aspirational. That’s why new shiny things sell better than things that are derivative or the same as something I’ve already seen a hundred times before. And probably, more importantly, I’m way more likely to tell my friends about something big and bold than I am about something unambitious and dull.

Once you’ve got the vision in place, the line-by-line budget-level transparency is great to establish credibility. It says to people, ‘hey we’ve thought this through, we know we can achieve what we’re saying. In fact, we’re so confident that we’re going to tell you exactly what we’re going to spend the money on’. If I can see the line between what you’re spending money on and achieving that big bold vision, that’s when everyone’s happy.

So big bold vision to inspire everyone, the line-by-line budget to add credibility. To get to the line-by-line though, you have to start with the big vision – and everyone seems to have a different way of getting there.

There’s the start broad with as many ideas as possible approach:

Naomi: so when I go into meetings, I come up with a whole bunch of ideas just to be devil’s advocate, some of them, but just to present as many options, that’s clearly not exhaustive, but to prompt the discussion and debate around what feels right and what doesn’t feel right, so… Yeah, again, just playing with a lot of copy, there was “Help STREAT Build a Home,” “There’s No Place Like Home,” “We’re Moving to Cromwell STREAT,” that’s crap isn’t it, and “Help Us Build Cromwell STREAT,” as in S-T-R-E-A-T.

Prashan: And then there’s the deep dive into one concept approach.  Basically the thinking is that it’s hard to have a real response to multiple high-level concepts – they all sound good – you get a  much better understanding of what your gut instinctively likes and dislikes by deep diving into one concept and seeing how you react.

One of the deep dives that STREAT took was on a ‘Bake a difference’ concept. The bakery was the new thing that STREAT was doing and because people like funding shiny, new things, it seemed kind of logical.

While the concept could have worked, by deep diving into it, STREAT’s collective gut felt a bit uncomfortable about it. Here’s Bec again.

Rebecca: So, all of that, I think, could have really worked. But it’s only one part of, it’s one-fifth of that new big amazing building. So, we didn’t want you to feel like… Actually, it’s one thing and then you turn up on site and you’re just expecting a bakery and then there’s kind of surprise. So, trying to make sure it was bigger than any one part.

Naomi: To me, it was focusing on the bricks and mortar element of what we’re doing, rather than the emotional themes about what a home encompasses, so belonging and safety and somewhere that provides community. I didn’t feel that a bakery was broad enough to include all of that. And don’t get me wrong, I feel like it could have worked. Like it was more, “Let’s move down this other path and see if we come up with something else that resonates more.” It was more of a “You know what, that doesn’t feel really right, right now. Let’s explore this home idea a bit more. If we get back there, great. If not, let’s see where else we get to.”

Prashan: After 2 long workshops over a good fortnight of debates, the team started to coalesce around a vision.

Rebecca: Yeah, we probably threw around two or three or maybe even four concepts. We started throwing them around in meetings and just said, “What about this? And what about if we did that?” And just keeping the ideas really open, and I don’t even know where the idea of kind of a housewarming came from. I’m not quite it was about that particular idea that had just kinda stuck in my mind. But there’s something, no matter how many times we kinda think of new ideas, in my mind I always come back to what our young people don’t have. They have an absolute lack of some where that’s safe and they belong and somewhat… Yeah, that sense of belonging. So what I didn’t want, is I didn’t wanna do a campaign that was kind of cute and had a cute theme around it. We were missing an opportunity if we didn’t give people a chance to belong as part of the very process of the campaign.

Naomi: it was actually Bec that came up with Home STREAT Home, she illustrated it on the board and Bec’s very creative and is forever drawing. But she illustrated it as a home and then STREAT, the word and then home and talking about our trainees come from a home that’s generally not somewhere they feel safe or belong or particularly want to be. They come to STREAT in the middle of their day and spend their day training with us, and that’s where they’ve actually for the first time in their lives felt like that they have that sense of community and support and love, and all that great stuff.

Naomi: And then they go home at the end of the day, so it was almost this STREAT book-ended by homes.

Prashan: Once they had agreed on ‘Home STREAT Home’ as their overarching vision, things started to fall into place. They ordered coffee cups with the Home STREAT Home branding. They created a pitch about how STREAT was creating a new home and recorded a video to match.

Then came the perks. Now the perks in a crowdfunding campaign are normally seen as auxiliary – an additional way for donors to give to a campaign. I might get a t-shirt if I donate $25, or to get my name on part of the project for $500.

Prashan: What struck me when I was listening to Ian and Bec talk about the perks was that for them, the campaign was in many ways defined by the perks. The campaign wasn’t just  about “asking for money”. It was also about telling customers that their new site was there, and training them to be, well, customers.

Prashan: Here’s Bec.

Rebecca: We’re trying to get people across into that new site. So, it’s a way about kind of priming a customer-base and getting them enthused about this new project. So, even though when the campaign comes to an end, it won’t be the following day they can walk straight into that site and buy something from there. But it won’t be too long after

Prashan: If you remember back to their previous campaign, Ian was trying to do the same thing:

Ian: One of the main reasons I wanted to run the crowdfunding campaign was to start the customer behaviors that we really wanted. Up until then, STREAT had been a couple mobile carts and you would go up to Federation Square or Melbourne Central and Melbourne Union and buy a coffee from us. This was the first time you could actually go to a café and have a meal, take coffee home, start to get some catering. I wanted people to start purchasing in the way that our business was heading. We started some of those behaviors which continue on now

Prashan: By framing it around creating more customers for their new sites, STREAT wasn’t just tapping into people’s spending purse, instead of their philanthropic one, they were also taking a much longer term view about where the value of the campaign is. They were hooking people in via the campaign, not just for the money they get today, but for the hundreds of coffees someone will buy in the future.

There was one more thing that was really important to Bec. This – I should say – is probably my favourite 30 seconds of interview across this entire podcast series and I think captures the secret of why some campaigns succeed online and others don’t. Ready? Here we go.

Rebecca: Yeah I hate earnestness. I really, really hate it. If the only way we ever got you to become involved in something was just to make you feel so god damn guilty about living in a house or having your own home, that would be crazy. So I want you to feel so positive about being part of this campaign, that it’s something that you look forward to, it’s fun, or it can give you a laugh. It’s not just this dry topic that’s gonna make you feel like the world’s about to end and there’s nothing you can do about it. Actually, there’s a heap of things that you can do to help us stop homelessness and we can have a heap of fun along the way as well.

Prashan: That’s the secret to a great campaign. Make stopping homelessness fun.

[Podcast] – Episode 1: Home STREAT Home

In our first podcast series at Chuffed.org, we’re looking at social enterprise, STREAT’s first crowdfunding campaign, where they took a $4,000 donation, made it into an $80,000 campaign and built a $160,000 cafe. As this is our first go at podcasts, we’d love your feedback in the Facebook comments below. Enjoy!


TRANSCRIPT

Rebecca: This woman came to us really, really early. I think it was 2011. She just popped up in the middle of nowhere. She was doing her own cookbook. It was on different cafés and restaurants that were in Melbourne. It was called Flavours of Melbourne. And she saw our little food cart at Federation Square and she said, “I’d really like to feature you guys in there and put just a little forward to you and telling people about who you are.” So, even though her cookbook was featuring all these really high end restaurants and cafés, she put this story about us in that cookbook and then did a fundraiser for us at the launch of that cookbook. And that fundraiser raised $4,000. So, at the end of it, she came to me and said, “I’ve got $4,000 for you. It would be fantastic if we could make that money stretch even further. Imagine if we worked with you now to make your own cookbook. Because then, if you made your own cookbook, we could turn that $4,000 into lots more than that.”

So, the $4,000 in producing a cookbook doesn’t go very far. It’s a really expensive process. So yes, she was going to use it against the printing costs but we still had to come up with tens of thousands of dollars which we just didn’t have.

Prashan: For most of us, the idea of turning $4,000 into tens of thousands of dollars in the space of a few months sounds impossible. But when you’re on a mission, like Bec Scott was – what’s possible doesn’t really come into play. Today, the story of how Bec and her team turned that $4,000 into not ten, not twenty but eighty, thousand dollars – and how they created one of Australia’s most loved cafes in the process. I’m Prashan Paramanathan. This is our first podcast at Chuffed.org. Stay tuned.

In the early 2000s, Bec Scott found herself in Hanoi, Vietnam. She sat down at a café and ordered a quintessential Vietnamese dish – rice paper rolls with tamarind sauce. And as she waited for her rice paper rolls to come out, she noticed a postcard on her table about the café. Now most cafes find creative ways of describing themselves but this one used a phrase that Bec hadn’t really come across before – remember this is early 2000s – the café described itself as a ‘social enterprise’ working with homeless young people.

The next time the waiter came by, Bec struck up a conversation. The café she was in was called KOTO – an acronym for ‘Know One Teach One’  – and was founded by a Vietnamese-Australian, Jimmy Pham. Jimmy grew up in Australia but returned to his native Vietnam for the first time as a 24 year old. He was struck by the thousands of street kids – the ‘dust of life’  in Vietnamese – and like many of us, he wanted to do something to help. Instead of building an orphanage or starting a charity, Jimmy did something else – he asked the kids what they wanted out of life. Their reply – ‘we need skills so we can find stable jobs’.  So Jimmy started up what ended up as KOTO – a hospitality training program, housed inside a café/restaurant – where street kids could get trained in hospitality skills, work in the café and then graduate into a hospitality career.

As Bec was eating her rice paper rolls, the power of the model struck her – her rolls were training up a street kid and getting them out of poverty.

In 2004, Bec spent two years volunteering at that café in Vietnam – KOTO with her partner Kate Barelle. And then, in 2009, Bec and Kate landed in Melbourne Australia, took what they had learnt from KOTO, merged it with their love of South-East Asian hawker food and started STREAT.

It was humble beginnings back then – they just had two little coffee carts in Melbourne’s Federation Square. Actually, maybe ‘little’s the wrong word to use.

Ian: We had Coffee carts, so big stainless steel barbecues, basically, that were supposed to be mobile, but would take four guys or a truck to really shift.

Prashan: That’s Ian, who runs STREAT’s marketing team.

Prashan: So two ‘big’ coffee carts. Plonked out in the middle of an open square.  In the sun. In the rain. Fun times. After 6 months of that– a property group, GPT, offered STREAT an indoor location for another cart – in Melbourne Central. And they jumped at it. It was 2011, and STREAT was hitting a growth spurt. Then, in 2012, STREAT doubled in size, almost overnight. In one of Australia’s first social enterprise on social enterprise acquisition, STREAT bought two cafes and a roasting company. But that was just the start of it.

Rebecca: We, at that stage, had just moved beyond having two little food carts. And we’d just done an acquisition of a couple of bigger businesses. But we were still quite fledgling. We knew that we wanted to grow some more and we had, essentially, one of our landlords at one of our sites come and say to us, “You’ve been here on month-to-month lease since 2010. Please, we’d love you to sign up to a five-year lease.” But we just had no cash in the bank. We’ve never had any cash in the bank since we started, and so it wasn’t like we could just go, “Right, we need a couple hundred thousand dollars.” We just re-developed a site. We knew that we were going to need some extra money to be able to make that possible.

Prashan: The landlord that Bec’s talking about was the same one that had got them out of the sun and rain at Federation Square. Their indoor cart at Melbourne Central had gone well – their landlord was happy and wanted them to upgrade.  Instead of renting a space for their temporary cart, why didn’t they sign up for 5-years and build a café?

So it’s now early 2012, they want to start up this new café, they want to publish a cookbook, and they have $4,000 to do both.

You know that point in a story where someone makes an offhand comment, that changes everything – well, that happened.

One of STREAT’s early investors, Danny Almagor floated the idea of ‘trying crowdfunding’.

Rebecca: And I think he said it kind of as a throw-away line, and said, “Oh, well, if you decide to do one, we’ll chip in a little bit.” And I’d never really considered it before then but it made sense. It felt like we had written a lot of grant applications and it wasn’t like it felt like there was new grant money available. But the other thing is, as well, is that to get grant money takes a long lead time normally. We can wait up to six or nine months before submitting a grant application and then knowing at the other end if you’ve got the money. We just didn’t have the lead time on some of that stuff that we wanted. Yeah, we just started to think really creatively, and the more I thought about it, it just kind of made sense.

Ian: And Rebecca and I had a look, and thought, “Okay, maybe we could do something and try and raise five or 10,000.” Then I looked at it, I thought, “Wow, there’s a lot of work in that.” You really to have to run the campaign actively, day in, day out, for the campaign period. And I said to her, “Look, if we’re going to do this, I’m not going to do it unless we’re trying to raise 20 or 40 grand, or something like that.”

Prashan: So they had a target. Now they just needed a campaign for it. Should they go for funding for the cookbook? Or should they try and fund the café? Bec and Ian’s approach was of course: I wonder if we could do both?

Ian:  So I came up with this campaign, that basically, “How do we turn a cookbook into a café?” And that was essentially the one-liner that captures our crowdfunding campaign: “How do we turn this cookbook into a café?” At that stage, we didn’t have a cookbook, nor did we sort of have a café.

Prashan: the idea was pretty simple. Sell the cookbooks on a crowdfunding campaign and use the proceeds to fund the café.  That way, they get a cookbook and they get a café.

It was their first campaign, and they weren’t going to leave anything to chance. $40,000 is a big target. And they were running an all-or-nothing campaign. If they didn’t hit that $40,000, they’d get nothing. So instead of waiting until the campaign started, Ian did something that at first seems a little sneaky, but actually is really smart.

Ian: I wasn’t going to do it unless I knew I was really going to get to the 40,000. So I pre-sold 700 or 800 cookbooks to a number of corporates to underwrite the campaign. Basically, I had 20 or $25,000 worth of orders of cookbooks that I could feed into the crowdfunding campaign to make sure we got to our $40,000 target.

Prashan: What did that conversation go like?

Ian: The conversation with the corporates?

Prashan: Yeah.

Ian: It’s like selling something you don’t have. So imagine that this is a cookbook in my hand Prashan, and your Chuffed logo is going to be on the front and your page about Chuffed is going to be on the inside. And, it’ll have Poe, and it will have recipes from our students but essentially I had a few PDF pictures of some recipes but that’s about all.

Prashan: The cookbooks that Ian was preselling weren’t just ordinary copies that you could get off the shelf. Ian had a very specific use in mind.

Ian: I designed them as a corporate Christmas gift. So if you were Westpac, or Red Cat, or Small Giants, or GPT, it was the perfect Christmas gift. They are actually real partners with STREAT, so then it’s very easy for them, and it’s very correct and true for them to give that book to one of their staff, customers, clients, and say well we support STREAT, and these are our Christmas gifts to you.

Prashan: With twenty- to twenty five grand under their belt, the task seemed more manageable, but STREAT had one more trick up their sleeve.

During the conversations with their landlord, GPT – the one that was trying to encourage them to sign up to a 5 year lease – Bec had managed to negotiate a little sweetener. I asked Bec to describe what that meeting was like:

Rebecca: So, what we were doing is sitting down as two partners, rather than sitting down as just a landlord and a tenant. They were wanting to make the relationship deeper because they already knew that we were adding a huge amount of value to their business.

So, we could have the conversation and say, “Well, what else are we bringing to the relationship? This is not just a lease agreement. If you are asking us to sign up for five years here, what are we doing together?

Prashan: GPT’s response? You know that crowdfunding campaign you’re running – if you hit your $40,000 target, we’ll give you another $40,000. That’s $80,000. Enough to get their café. Now all they needed to do was to sell enough cookbooks.

Now – we’ve run thousands of campaigns on Chuffed.org – and $40,000 is a big target in Australia. Go back a few years, when crowdfunding wasn’t really a thing – and $40,000 in social cause land was unheard of.

Plus, STREAT were running an All-or-Nothing campaign, which meant if they didn’t hit that $40,000 target, they’d get nothing. No money. No cookbook. No café.

So they originally had the idea for the campaign in mid 2012, they spent all of July and August getting all the recipes and photos and creating the cookbook. And on the 30th August 2012, they switched on their campaign. After all this prep, I asked Bec what Day 1 was like:

Rebecca: Yeah, it was quite nerve-wracking actually because we’d decided to go for a three-month campaign. And that’s a long time. Like that’s a really, really long amount of time to sustain a sense of immediacy and urgency. And what we knew is that you don’t just kind of launch and then kind of cross your fingers. That you’ve really got to be feeding the campaign, you got to give it content. You got to be saying thank you to people. You got to keep a momentum. And that momentum, it’s easy to watch a campaign and assume that somehow it just starts fuelling itself along the way but you’ve got to keep fuelling that fire as well. So I remember the amount of work that we were doing on social media or things just to keep it going. I remember having a shot at trying to get some celebrities involved by tweeting them and saying, “Hey, such and such. Have you heard about this? Can you re-tweet it?” But we didn’t get any of those celebrity endorsements stuff. I think at the time, from memory, I even tried some, I think actually Kevin Rudd was really big and being the social media hussy that he always was.

Rebecca: So like imagine if we could get Kevin Rudd to support it? But that never materialized so we certainly wouldn’t have built a campaign around the hope of that, even though we were holding at right to the end, thinking that someone might, some big celeb might get it. But we’d done a lot of pre-work to just try and make sure that it can get to that $40,000.

Prashan: Despite the social media hussies not getting on board, STREAT were doing ok by the middle of the campaign, but they were by no means home.

Rebecca: I still remember being weeks out, and thinking, “Holy crap, I hope we make it.” Even with that pre-work, we were still working hard to the end.

Prashan: And then, that magical day. The day they got to 40,000.

Rebecca: Oh, my god. So it wasn’t far from the end of the campaign and I just remember the immense relief like, “Oh, my god. I was relieved.” And I remember writing an email out straight away to everyone. Just everyone that we’d ever spoken to before and everyone on our database, and just thanking them, and saying, “We’ve done it.” There were a lot of office high five-ing. Yeah, it was a really good feeling. But then we just had to get on and build the damn site. So the campaign may have been successful, but then, all the hard work of actually building the site was starting. So it really was just chapter one of what was going to be a couple of the other big chapters as well.

Prashan: That campaign was now over three years ago – and in many ways it set the precedent that every social enterprise crowdfunding campaign would follow. It’s now completely normal to use a campaign to pre-sell product to pay for your setup cost – it’s what nearly every social enterprise crowdfunding campaign does. But being at the forefront of anything is tiring. I was curious, now that it had been three years, what Bec had took from  the whole experience? Did the highs and lows of the campaign turn her off crowdfunding?

Rebecca: As the chief fund raiser for the organization, I think I’ve got a pretty acute understanding of how hard it is to get every dollar. And so, it wasn’t like we got to the end and I thought, “Geez, let’s do heaps more of them and because they’re a lot of work.” But, so is selling a million coffees to make money, so is writing masses and masses of grant applications. So, what it probably did is just give me in my little tool belt of understanding of how different types of capital work, it just gave me another little tool in that tool belt to understand, “Oh, so that’s how that type of money behaves.” All the things that you’ve got to do to get that, to make something like that work.

Rebecca:. The other thing that was really positive though about it was, I think I had underestimated how much a crowdfunding campaign could give you visibility as an organization. So, it wasn’t just about the dollars that were coming at the other end. What you were doing is, you were creating a story and an energy around your organization. So I think, what happened is not only did we end up at the end with a new café, but they were a whole bunch of people who, even if they didn’t donate to the campaign, because we got some really good media about it, they saw us. They heard about us. And if you’re thinking about the average person is probably going to need to hear about you five to seven times before they actually open their wallets. It’s one more of those times that might be the first time they hear it but they’re hearing it in a way that’s got lots of energy around it. So for me, it’s about getting the story really clear, but knowing that there’s a lot of people that are going to see it that I aren’t going to support it, but they are just part of planting seeds. All of them may, over time, become supporters. They’re invisible now to you, but if you know that you got to keep planting a lot of seeds for any of those people to start to convert. Well, then, this is a really big way you can do that. The other thing is too that crowdfunding does. What it does is, it potentially starts to build a customer-base that might not have been there. So in our case, people that only ever had food with us they now had a cookbook that was going to sit on their shelves. All of our food’s got a very short shelf life but the thing that we were creating had a really long shelf life. So, I’m interested when I go in to places. I’ve been into people’s homes and seen our STREAT cookbook on their bookshelf, that’s all stuff that’s just there and visible. And I think about once again, it’s just about planting seeds, that it’s about creating an overall awareness of your organization in the campaign. A campaign can equally do that as it can bring about some funding, as well.

– FIN –