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Guest Blog by Ed Whiting, At-Large Fellowship Councillor leading the RSA's work on crowdfunding. 

It’s almost a year to the day since I blogged about how crowdfunding could transform the RSA Fellowship. As crowdfunding starts to really take root as a way to support exciting new ideas and enterprises, I’m delighted that we’re moving towards making this happen at the RSA.

Since I joined the Fellowship Council last year, I’ve been struck by the sheer variety and volume of project ideas with real potential to change society – particularly from those funded under the Catalyst scheme. After a lot of discussion, we’ve decided to dip our toe in the crowdfunding water, and from September this year partner up with an existing crowdfunding platform to create a new RSA ‘curated’ crowdfunding area. This will help Fellowship projects like the Leeds empties and We Are Bedford (and many, many others) appeal for financial and ‘in-kind’ support from Fellows and the wider world to make their vision even bigger and better.

For me, it's a great opportunity to show what RSA is about - great ideas supported by a great community, passionate about making lasting positive change to their world. If you're interested in talking more about getting involved with this as project leader or supporter (or you've done crowdfunding already and want to share your insights), drop me a line.

Jonathan Lister aka @jayfresh

But if you’re still wondering about what crowdfunding actually is or how it works, then there’s no better way to learn about crowdfunding than from someone who’s actually doing it. At a recent ‘RSA Reboot’ events (read about a previous one here to find out what they’re about) we met Jonathan Lister, of Shoreditch Works. Their vision is to build a new ‘village hall’ for local startups, and they’re seeking funding for it on right now. Their pitch is here, and if you move really fast, you can be a part of creating this new space - in return getting your name on a unique wall of thanks, receive a specially designed t-shirt, or gaining access to a great event. At the time of writing, Jonathan and co had already had gathered an impressive 114 backers and were making great progress towards their target – but I'll let him speak for himself: -

@edwhiting1: In a Tweet, what is Shoreditch Works all about?

Jonathan - aka - @jayfresh: @shoreditchworks helps young companies get started and grow.

[The Tweet button is at the top - hint, hint, help spread the word].

Why did you pick Crowdfunding as the way to raise funds?

After a long time raising funds through friends, family and individual investors, we wanted to get the wider community involved. The publicity generated by a crowdfunding campaign is of equal if not greater value than the money raised - we've had a number of people pop up saying they want to support us or get involved.

Shoreditch works Kickstarter banner

@shoreditchworks helps young companies get started and grow.

What other options were available to you?

We're too small and young for banks or peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Funding Circle; we're too old for platforms such as Seedrs. So it was a case of asking a lot of people to help with the project.

What did you do before you kicked it off on Kickstarter?

We spent a decent amount of time getting the video, the pitch and the rewards to the point where they were interesting to people.

So you’ve managed to do it – can any Fellow do it?

Yes! Kickstarter is very much about creative projects, so if a project doesn't fit into this mould, something like might be a better bet. If you want to explore the full set of sites out there? Nesta has a new page dedicated to solving this problem:

Great – so what are you top five tips to get started?

  • Pitch something people want
  • Some people are just in it to buy your rewards, so make them good
  • Email EVERYONE
  • Share the milestones e.g. "we've raised £1000!" to keep the momentum going
  • Keep your backers updated and make them your ongoing advocates

So, watch this space. And PLEASE do back Jonathan and co’s excellent project here – -Ed Whiting is the At-Large Fellowship Councillor leading on the RSA's work on crowdfunding. You can follow Ed on Twitter @edwhiting1 - and you can learn more about the Fellowship Council


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