We may only be a month into the new year but Crowdfunder has already stamped its mark on two of the biggest issues of the day.
The first is the country’s growing health crisis. Veg Power is a collaborative campaign group that has been created to improve the eating habits of a generation. The problem is serious. Around four in five kids and 95% of teenagers are not eating enough veg so an innovative campaign was created to counter the constant stream of junk food advertising.
The team behind it brought together the best minds in children’s health as well as TV campaigners such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Dr Rangan Chatterjee and advertising legend Sir John Hegarty. Crowdfunding formed a significant chunk of the funding mix, raising a staggering £102,215 from their supporters to compliment significant funding by the biggest ever coalition of supermarkets.
It resulted in a 60-second film that was aired during Coronation Street on ITV who contributed £2 million of air time to the cause, ensuring millions of people got the perception changing message.
Then, of course, there’s Brexit.
A guerrilla billboard campaign by a campaign group calling themselves Led by Donkeys hit the sweet spot. The idea was simple enough: to remind voters of spurious statements made by the leading protagonists of Brexit by plastering them on gigantic billboards across the UK. It caught the eye of an increasingly divided nation and took off, first in the national press and then on Crowdfunder as thousands of supporters rushed to back the group with their idea.
It went all the way to the top with former Brexit Secretary and current second favourite to become Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, reacting to the campaign with a passively aggressive ‘bored’ emoji.
His statement from November of last year was one of seven from leading politicians that set the wheels in motion and a little over 36 hours later, they had hit their ‘stretch target’ of £50,000 after smashing their original aim of £10,000 inside three hours. At the time of writing they’re closing in on £70,000 to invest in some of the most effective anti-Brexit messaging to date.
There’s something compelling about taking to huge billboards to grab attention in a world dominated by digital platforms. Combining a razor creative with a perfectly timed message can resonate so effectively with the public and when it’s done well, it makes the news as we saw last week. The beauty of Led by Donkeys was that the statements framed themselves, using screengrabs from Twitter to lend greater authenticity in the midst of all the political flip-floppery that’s playing out.
How Crowdfunder has given people a platform on the things that matter
Crowdfunder is an increasingly disruptive tool for making powerful statements about things that matter. From a supporter’s perspective it’s also an effective way to ‘back your side’ at a time when many feel ignored by the powers that be. It gives people a voice in an increasingly tribal landscape.
We’ve seen it before at Crowdfunder and there have been several other notable examples in recent times.
In 2015 Amnesty International crowdfunded an advertising campaign to challenge the then Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act, raising near on £30,000 to take out a string of adverts in The Times in the run up to the Queens Speech. The double-page spread featured the name of the 1,000 supporters on Crowdfunder in a powerful message in a major newspaper.
The I am an Immigrant campaign successfully raised £54,101 for a series of posters to celebrate the contribution of migrants to British life across our major tube and rail networks in the run up to the General Election later that year.
Almost £70,000 was raised by well over 3,000 people two years ago at the start of the Brexit negotiations to send an open letter to the Prime Minister from roadsides across the UK and is hitherto the biggest to date, reaching 10 million people on the streets of Great Britain with their message.
Campaigning organisation Dignity in Dying also turned to crowdfunding ahead of the parliamentary vote on the Assisted Dying Bill back in 2015 which – in their view – could have given dying people choice and control over their death.
The divisive issue had not been voted on by MPs for 20 years so it provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to show their elected representatives that the overwhelming majority – 82% at the time – want law change on assisted dying.
Actor and patron Sir Patrick Stewart spearheaded the Crowdfunder to create a high-impact advertising campaign and they received unprecedented support, raising almost £32,000 for a string of hard-hitting messages in key strategic locations.
I’ve even done it myself, albeit to a much smaller extent. Three years ago I created a small crowdfunding campaign to raise a matter of a little over £1,000 to boost my struggling hometown football club, Cheltenham Town.
Within 48 hours my unfashionable club was picked up by the national media, being talked about on US television at half-time during the Super Bowl and written about in China at a time when it barely raised an eyebrow in the sleepy Cotswolds town. It works and it can be very effective for brand building on any scale.
But it’s not just billboards. When it comes to biting political statements it’s hard to look past the hugely controversial Trump Baby ahead of the American President’s divisive visit to the UK last summer. It was something we’d never seen before and it even touched a nerve in the Whitehouse, further proof that when a great idea is backed to the hilt it can go global and reach the smartphones of our world leaders.
Splashed on the front page of every major newspaper across the globe, it quickly raised the near £35,000 the idea needed to come to life and fly above Westminster.
It trended on social media for days and underlined the growing reputation of crowdfunding as a very modern marketing tool. When your supporters are invested both financially and emotionally they will work together to ensure that message is heard, and heard loudly.
Crowdfunder can propel people into the heart of political discourse. It works of course for both sides of the coin as the subsequent campaign to fly a giant balloon of mayor Sadiq Kahn showed, raising almost double the money to come to life as a counter-protest above the capital.
Hot air, maybe, depending on where you sit in the debate but when it comes to empowering people to stand up for what they believe, crowdfunding continues to provide a robust way to gather support and validate great ideas.
The political and social climate is certainly prime for bottom-up innovation and creativity when it comes to protest and Crowdfunder could yet prove to be one of the key battlegrounds in this year of extraordinary politics.
So keep your eyes peeled the next time you’re walking down the street to really see the influence of crowdfunding in the big debate.