Educating the crowd to fix (or knit) for good

Could some educated crowd-funding help young people make their futures? Last year, working with the Philip Lawrence Awards, who celebrate young people’s projects,  it struck how many projects stated funding as a concern. And how many young people were concerned about their futures and growing youth unemployment.

I started researching alternative and innovative ways of raising money for social projects, including crowd-funding. And last week I was talking to someone who is raising money for a school she is building in Cambodia. We chatted about crowd-funding and about knitting . And how to catch a Haggis.

All stitched together these threads have led me to the conclusion that altruism and education might be the perfect patch work for a crowd-funded project.

Looking at different crowd-funding platforms and projects I have taken reward and reciprocation as key factors for success – and a lovely idea that captures the imagination.

On Kickstarter , the worlds largest funding platform for creative projects, the ideas that capture the imagination are wonderfully musical, literary or socially innovative projects offering a tangible reward for the funder – something to own, with its own artistic merit; an album, a book, a film.

The challenge for philanthropic projects is creating a reward that is more than just a thank-you. That tangible something to take away. Crowd-funding’s secret seems to be in the transaction. It’s a social supermarket where you pledge for a product and hope that enough other people want the same thing.

But a store where social good is the takeaway is a trickier proposition. People are increasingly choosy where they donate, they want to see where their money is going and want to see something coming the other way.

But that reward, that product, doesn’t need to be a jumper to wear or a block of cheese to eat. And it’s a project on the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall championed crowd-funding platform Peoplefund It that might have an answer.

From its inception one project stormed away and reached its funding target whilst others seemed barely to have had any interest. But what set it apart?

The Bicycle Academy offers not only social good and altruism, but education. You fund a bicycle for somebody in Africa. Good idea. But pledge a little more and the reward is the opportunity to be taught by an expert how to build the bicycle yourself. For the funder the product is education. And the more money people spend on learning new skills, the more time they want to put in.  Buy skills, get a warm fuzzy feeling thrown in.

So this spun me onto knitting because a similar principle could be applied if knitting was the skill on offer and the jumpers were sold to fund a charitable project.

The magic is in making of things. And the connections between people to get things made. Maybe the principle could be applied to making furniture, or catching and cooking Haggis’.  And maybe the connection in making could spread to those who need to make things the most – young people.

What if you took young people who weren’t in education or young offenders and taught them how to make a bicycle with money pledged by someone else who got the same training in a 2:1 student teacher ratio. The only problem you might have then is that older pupil might not be able to keep up.

There’s much more about crowd-funding in these blogs;




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