“We were in an all or nothing situation and Crowdfunder gave us an all or nothing opportunity,” says Ceri Taylor, communications officer for the Nightshelter in Cardiff, explaining why the charity turned to crowdfunding when it found itself in crisis.
Cuts to local authority funding left the emergency nightshelter, which is run by The Wallich charity, in danger of closing. This would mean 10 to 12 more people would have been forced to sleep rough on the streets of Cardiff every night. The shelter is used by more than 250 people a year and also provides hot showers, cooked meals, laundry services and access to a support worker who can help people find longer-term solutions to stay off the street.
“We needed to raise a lot of money in a short space of time – we knew that if we didn’t raise all of the money, we’d have to close,” Ceri says. “We knew the local community supported the Nightshelter and that we needed to harness the power of that support. We saw crowdfunding as a way of giving the local community ownership of the campaign to save the Nightshelter.”
Having researched a number of different crowdfunding platforms, Ceri says they were struck by the simplicity of Crowdfunder.
“One of our concerns had been that our supporters wouldn’t know what crowdfunding was. The Crowdfunder site is clear and easy to navigate, so we knew that anyone visiting our page could see the overview, updates, rewards and progress at a glance. We didn’t want to put supporters off with a complicated donation process – Crowdfunder made pledging very straightforward.”
And the pledges came flooding in – the campaign raised more than £23,000, exceeding its £21,000 target. Comparison website Go Compare gave the stretch target a late boost with a donation of £1,000.
The charity found that crowdfunding has a snowball effect, with their campaign really taking off once they hit the 10 per cent mark. “People are more likely to pledge to a cause that has already got support behind it,” says Ceri. With this in mind, they had a soft launch before going public with their campaign, asking local businesses who already supported the shelter to donate and get the ball rolling.
Sharing real life stories about the people who use the shelter also helped boost pledges. “Hearing real-life stories really brought home why we needed to save the shelter,” says Ceri. The campaign also saw a boost in activity when local online communities, such as We Are Cardiff and I Loves the Diff, talked about the campaign.
“Posting regular progress updates on social media was a great way of getting people to share the campaign with their networks,” adds Ceri. “People wanted to help us achieve the next goal.”
Thanks to the huge support gathered through Crowdfunder the Nightshelter will now be able to stay open until April 2016, giving the charity time to find a suitable funding plan. Ceri says the coverage generated by Crowdfunder has also raised awareness of the Nightshelter and The Wallich, and the work they do. “We’ve made some great contacts and recruited some long-term supporters who want to work with us to ensure the future of the Nightshelter.”
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