How a sustainable fish supply chain netted much more funding than expected



The background

Sole of Discretion is the brainchild of restaurateur Caroline Bennett. She’s been concerned for years about the state of fish stocks and thought there must be a way to reward fishers who do things properly. But high street banks weren’t interested.

The big idea

To give sustainable fishers a fair price for their catch, and get the fish direct to customers who care.

What happened

Caroline said: “I called in my friend Dominic Bailey to help — he had run his own successful Crowdfunder project recently, so I was able to pick his brains.  He had loads of great ideas about how to pitch our project to funders and drum up support. We gave the project a long, sustained push on social media and through our press contacts and friends, and the project hit its target a week before the deadline. The way the funding  snowballed really took us by surprise though — we raised 23% of the target within 2 days. Then a week later Plymouth City Council agreed to match fund 50% of the total. This success also convinced RBS Social and Community Capital to give us £130,000 of match funding.”

The pledge rewards

Caroline collaborated in a clever way, getting restaurant friends and an organic veg box company involved. She offered everything from a Japanese dinner party, to a veg box delivered to you door as well as art prints, sushi making workshops and even a day out on a fishing boat. She also hosted a thank-you party the week before the campaign ended, which helped get it over the finish line with even more support.

In the press

The campaign was given a boost by some great coverage — the story was picked up firstly by local press, and then by The Guardian and on social media by River Cottage and Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube. Some fishing trade journals also featured the campaign, which secured grassroots support.

What’s next

Sole of Discretion is working to create a stable market and distribution system for a network of small-scale fishers around Britain’s coast. They’re now building the first fish processing centre in Plymouth thanks to the Crowdfunder project, and hope to start deliveries in March.

What they say

This one I would really love to see succeed. Sustainable fish, supporting West Country fishermen – I’m in!Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

This is exactly the kind of thing that we dream of at Crowdfunder — social enterprise projects that get the community involved and really make a difference to people’s lives and the environment. Well done to Caroline and her team!Phil Geraghty, Managing Director, Crowdfunder

Tips to project owners

“It really helps to get experienced Crowdfunders involved if you can — my friend Dominic Bailey had recently run a successful campaign, and his input really helped. Also, if you’re not familiar with social media, get someone on board who is! And get young people involved! A month is just the right length to keep up momentum — and there’s still a lot of work to do afterwards, so you’ll need some energy in reserve.”

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