Project Focus: The Bridge, Birmingham

The Bridge are helping struggling men and women to beat drug and alcohol addiction, and then thrive in their local community.

We caught up with Ben Kyte, project owner of  The Bridge, Birmingham, to talk about their crowdfunding success. 

Why did you decide to Crowdfund?

We had been running a supporter appeal and were looking for ways to maximise the donations that people were putting into the project. One of our supporters got in contact and highlighted that Birmingham City Council were running a match-fund scheme with Crowdfunder.co.uk. We filled out a tentative enquiry form and Dawn Bebe, Co-found and Director at Crowdfunder, got in touch with us. The rest is history…

What do the funds raised mean for your project?

Raising the funds with Crowdfunder has meant that we can continue to provide a recovery programme for the 18 men and women who are living at the project and are battling drug and alcohol addiction. It has also meant that we can build for the future, expanding our support to those who have recently moved on into their own accommodation.

How is crowdfunding different from how you would normally finance or fundraise for projects?

The Bridge receives income from a combination of rent, service charge and fundraising. The majority of our fundraising income comes from grant-making trusts and community support. Each year we’ve tended to run one major community-focused fundraising campaign (often a large sponsored event). This year we focused our community fundraising around the crowdfunding campaign.

What will you use the money for and what has happened since you hit your crowdfunding target?

We will use the money to provide a recovery programme for our residents. This includes providing drug test clinics, recovery groups and one-to-one key working sessions. In addition, we will be piloting a 12-week support programme for men and women who have recently moved on into their own accommodation.  Our crowdfunding campaign finished at the end of the July and since then we have been busy planning our community support programme, which is due to begin in the last quarter of the year.

What would be your top tips for others considering crowdfunding?

1. PLAN. Planning is key. We spent 6 weeks planning the campaign, priming people and scheduling content before we launched. Without spending that time planning beforehand, we wouldn’t have succeeded.

2. TEAM. Like any fundraising campaign, there are ups and downs along the way. It’s important to have people in your corner who can support you whatever is happening.

3. ASK. Crowdfunder employ some incredibly helpful, supportive and talented individuals who are on hand to help you make your campaign a success. I scheduled a conversation with our crowdfunding coach (Sami ‘Superstar’ Mauger) most weeks. She never made me feel like I was asking a silly question. So ask!

4. HANG IN THERE. It’s a bumpy ride, but hang in there. What you learn and what you gain in marketing and publicity is priceless. It takes a lot of patience (which I’m still learning), but it’s worth the hard knocks along the way.

Did you receive any funding from Crowdfunder’s funding partners?

We received £5,000 from Birmingham City Council. We had a few teething issues with the grant application process, technically and in terms of waiting for an outcome, but the online forms made the process a lot smoother than it would have otherwise been. I was grateful to have a contact (Dawn Bebe) from within Crowdfunder, who was exceptional at keeping me up-to-date with the process.

Anything else you would like to tell us?

I just want to thank and commend Dawn Bebe and Sami Mauger in particular. These two were tireless advocates for our campaign and gave far more of their time to us than I’m sure they ever would have imagined.  If it wasn’t for their immense enthusiasm and encouragement we wouldn’t have started our campaign, let alone completed it. I honestly can’t tell you how grateful I am for them and I wish them both every success in the fantastic work that they’re doing.

Feeling inspired to start your own Crowdfunder.co.uk project? 
Click here to start your project now!

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