With crowdfunding slowly gaining popularity in the Philippines, the life of a project is no longer dependent on the availability of traditional sources of capital and now relies on the combined generosity of its humble supporters.
Knowing that Filipinos living in different countries still think about their homeland got Justin Garrido and Julia Sevilla, classmates at Melbourne University, to wonder if they could somehow channel support from the Filipino diaspora into social and environmental projects in the Philippines.
Garrido and Sevilla worked on a business plan, which he entered in the Melbourne Universty Entrepreneur’s Challenge in 2012. “SocialProject.PH – Crowdfunding a Better Philippines” won the top prize at the competition, which convinced Garrido and Sevilla to pursue the project further.
Eventually, Garrido and Sevilla launched SocialProject.PH as a crowdfunding website dedicated to social and environment projects and social entrepreneurship. The project came to be with the help of an angel investor, and the collaboration of Plus63 Design Co. and Nadarei Design and Development on creative and technical aspects.
Presenting the projects for social good
“Based on our insights from researching development challenges and meeting with non-profit and social enterprise partners in the Philippines, we believe that addressing poverty and other social and environmental challenges in the Philippines requires a holistic approach,” says Sevilla.
Projects on SocialProject.PH are classified under five categories that the founders believe to be “key interventions” for positive change:
- Cool for School – projects on education and schooling
- Guardian Angel – projects focusing on youth development
- Eco-Warrior – projects focusing on the environment
- Heart for Health – projects promoting health and fitness
- Profit + Passion – social entrepreneurship projects
Project partners can either be non-profit or a for-profit social enterprise, and must be a registered organization with a valid PayPal Business account. They can apply to be on the site by e-mailing to get an application form that must outline the project scope, budget, timeline and estimated social impact.
When a project is approved, a project partner can create an account on the site, create a profile, and upload pictures and video to tell their story to potential donors, which they can link to social media.
Setting project milestones to project success
One way in which SocialProject.PH encourages transparency in their crowdfunding platform is requiring project partners to set “milestones” for their project. These are smaller, specific goals that build up to the success of the entire project.
There are certain benefits to milestone-setting:
It encourages the push to work toward the overall success of the project. Once a certain (set) amount of pledges is received by the project partner, the project partner is required to complete that milestone and update pledgers on the progress.
It ensures the protection of both project partners and donors in the crowdfunding process. Only when a milestone is reached does SocialProject.PH get 5% of the commission.
And, the platform has shown relative success.
“Ayala Foundation has been able to raise funds to send four underprivileged youth to their CENTEX public elementary school of excellence for a year,” Sevilla shares.
She adds, “Solar Energy Foundation was able to raise funds to provide solar lights to over 100 community beneficiaries in Apia, Antipolo through their solar program that also includes financing for more solar lights in the future.”
Protecting the pledger and pledges
Sevilla explains, “Paypal Adaptive Payments is a pledge model, whereby the money is coursed from individual donor directly to the project partners’ PayPal account only after the 60-day campaign and only if the partner reaches their funding goal or milestone. This benefits donors, as the project only gets funded if the project partner has enough funds to implement the social good project or at least a milestone to accomplish one aspect of it.”
Jumpstart crowdfunding for your social cause
Through its beta phase, SocialProject.PH has seen enough projects to know what factors contribute to a successful crowdfunding campaign for any kind of social cause.
1. Appeal to emotion with great storytelling. “To be successful, there should be a strong story that makes an emotional connection for donors through a compelling video and a solid social media marketing campaign,” says Sevilla. “Some project partners were more successful than others in this area, which resulted in their projects getting funding for milestones.”
2. Take every opportunity to educate others about crowdfunding. Even if you’ve decided to do crowdfunding for your project, others may not understand what you’re trying to accomplish. “We learned that to many donors and project partners, the crowdfunding concept is so new that more education on crowdfunding is needed so they can understand the benefits of greater transparency and engagement via our platform,” says Sevilla.
3. Enlist people who staunchly believe in your project to be ready to donate upon launch of the campaign. “Prior to launching, project partners should have friends and family already committed to donating to your project so it gets initial traction at launch, which will help convince others to support your project.”
4. Be diligent about promoting your crowdfunding campaign. The campaign period on SocialProject.PH is 60 days, and Sevilla says that being diligent about promotion every day of that period is key to a campaign’s success. “Get supporters to donate and share the campaign with others by e-mailing subscribers, updating your social media accounts, and reaching out to media,” she says.
Header image: DESIGN FOR LIFE. Gifts & Graces is looking to build a design lab where members of their partner communities can learn to design products with new materials and techniques.