London has fast become one of the best places in the world for crowdfunding, easily besting the likes of New York and San Francisco. In order to gain funding for their own initiatives, countless businesses, city councils and individuals are turning away from getting big bank loans and instead looking to the community for help
Words: Andrew Zuccala
Research carried out by the Crowdfunding Centre, tracking more than 1,300 projects across 166 countries, found that London had more live crowdfunding projects than Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago, in that order. Londoners have recently rallied behind crowdfunding projects including the Peckham Coal Line (pictured above), Peckham Lido, Well Street Market, Old Kent Road studios, and UK’s first sustainable Department Store.
Chris Gourlay, CEO and Founder of the crowdfunding site Spacehive, believes “These projects represent the powerful effect of what can be achieved through the collaboration of communities, councils and companies. Civic entrepreneurs set out to create a ‘place for everyone’ and through meaningful engagement with the people who live in the area have done just that through crowdfunding.”
But there are thousands of projects currently in the pipeline, making it an exhausting effort to find one you can truly get behind. So here are a few of our favourite current London crowdfunding projects for you to get involved with…
1 Build a brewery
It’s all in a name for the Beatnikz Republic. The founder, Paul Greetham, explains how the name came from the US Beat movement in the 50s and 60s. He believes “the whole Beatnik ethos of counter-culture is the perfect analogy for craft beer”. They then added the ‘Republic’ part “to emphasise the democratic nature of beer and how it’s owned by the masses, not by the few”.
This ethos works hand in hand with the entire crowdfunding movement. Everyone has a stake in what they’re funding. The entire community benefits. Plus we all know Londoners love a pint of beer more than most.
In order to buy their own brewing kit, allowing them to make 1,000 litres of beer per brew, Beatnikz Republic has turned directly to London donors. The contributions will help the company meet the ever-increasing demand for their frothy beverages.
To get people interested and to thank them for their support, Paul is offering their own craft beer. So depending on how much money you pledge, you can get cases of IPAs, West Coast Pale Ales, and kölsch beers delivered to your home. They also have some cool merchandise like tote bags, bottle openers, beer mats and beer glassware. The list just goes on and on.
I would definitely reccommend crowdfunding to others needing to finance their dream
They have never used crowdfunding before as they “were very much stepping into the unknown! But everyone has been very supportive. I would definitely recommend crowdfunding to others needing to finance their dream.”
“We could have turned to banks for finance, but it’s much more fun and rewarding, engaging with people interested in our beer. We thought it was a win-win situation as we can let the world know about the brewery as well as letting pledgers enjoy some beer!”
They have all their fingers and toes crossed, hoping to meet their target and have already reached the halfway mark with over £10,000 being pledged. Paul says it’s thanks to the London craft beer community which “is a very open and positive one. People have been very generous in both pledging and sharing our story. We’re very thankful to be in such a nice little community.”
Help build up this brewery while getting a few beers of your own through Crowdfunder.co.uk
2 Help create a therapeutic garden for a women’s refuge
The Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) has taken to the community of London to fund a therapeutic garden where women who have escaped violence can relax, exercise and grow flowers and herbs. It seems like a simple thing but it will help the women more than any of us could possibly know.
Sara Browne, the IKWRO’s campaign officer, describes the importance of this project. She says they aim to “raise the self-confidence of the women at the refuge” as they have been through so many traumatic experiences and “haven’t been able to make their own choices, even about the most basic of things. Some haven’t even been able to leave the house on their own without a chaperone.” It will also act as a safe space for women who are “fearful that they might be seen by the people who they are in danger from”.
The women at the refuge will be in included in every step of the decision-making processes “from design, to its development and continuing to nurture the garden. We’re listening to their dreams for the space.” The whole process of developing and tending the garden will be “really therapeutic and is so important for their recovery and transformation from victims to survivors”.
The IKWRO were drawn to crowdfunding due to the “very limited funds available for charities working to end violence against women and girls”. They turned to the online network of Londoners instead.
We are so heartened by the wonderful, warm reaction from people
And the community’s overwhelming support for these women has been tremendous. Sara and her team “are so heartened by the wonderful, warm reaction from people. The gardening community are really getting behind the iniative because they understand how therapeutic gardening can be! And people from all walks of life are connecting with the project because they understand how even a small green space can make such a difference to how you feel.”
It is overwhelmingly empowering for the women at the refuge to know that so many people in London care about their wellbeing. So many people in London are willing to donate to a cause they believe in through crowdfunding. They are only a quarter of the way to their goal but believe the public will get them over the line with less than a month left till their time runs out.
Donate to their cause via crowdfunder.co.uk
3 Fund a free film festival in New Cross & Deptford
The 10-day free film festival in New Cross and Depftord has been a massive success in the past, bringing lovers of documentaries, short films, mainstream family favourites, nostalgic matinees and low-budget independent shorts together from all around London. Last year, over 2,500 people attended but despite this popularity, the organisers are struggling to source the money to make the magic happen in 2017.
Gill Roth, one of the event organisers, explains how the council has now taken a step back from helping the project succeed. She says “the council will now fund the project via Spacehive. If we meet the target, they give us £3,000”. This is making things more difficult for the organisers who didn’t have to match funding through other means in the past.
With less than two months of crowdfunding left, Gill is still unsure whether they’ll reach their target. Nonetheless, she and her team are still optimistic. She knows there is a lot of local support for the festival for “every year we get lots of positive feedback at our events and on social media. People love the event”.
And while all the details for the 2017 event aren’t ready to declare, The Resident has been told that they will definitely have another outdoor bike powered screening with Electric Pedals of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971 Gene Wilder version). This quirky way of watching films has been one of their most successful ventures in the past so don’t miss out on this more active way of watching the classics.
And there are so many other ways for the community to get behind the New Cross & Deptford free Film Festival. Their open public meeting on 14 November at Deptford Lounge will give everyone the chance to come up with new ideas. Gill declares “everything is still up for grabs!!” They just need the money to make it happen.
Support London’s local arts scene through Spacehive.com
4 Help students succeed after school
So many students from underfunded schools just aren’t getting the information and inspiration they need to understand their own potential and thrive in the workplace. That’s when AccessAspiration jumps in to help.
They provide speakers at assemblies, speed networking, employability training and mock interview practice for students in sixth form. Outside school they provide taster sessions at work to get insight into a variety of industries, some training programmes and work experience. Schools, students and parents get all of this for free. But this means funding has to come from outside donors.
And in order to help a new school with over 280 sixth form students, they looked towards crowdfunding – a new adventure for AccessAspiration. The Director, Kirstie Ritchie, says “it has been fascinating to see who of our many supporters who have helped with advice and connections in the past have come forward to fund us.”
Kirstie believes she and her team are “a part of a wide community in London who want to see all young Londoners achieve their potential and that crowdfunding was a way for people to express this whilst also helping build up their own community.”
And there is always more scope for people to get involved. Volunteering is an essential part of their work as is opening doors to new employers. They are always keen to make new friends in an array of industries. By reaching this new goal, they will be set to keep building into the future with the hope “to be in a position to create opportunity, networks and better information on the amazing and diverse job market for every young Londoner who needs it.”
They are half way to reaching their target but Kirstie understands there is still a long way to go. But after all, it just takes £10 to make a difference.
Get behind this project for the kids by donating at Crowdfunder.co.uk