A month ago, one of the big discussion topics at the Nationale Vakdag Fondsenwerving conference in Holland was Online Social Network Fundraising so it was great just after the event to spot a new online initiative coming from Holland looking to capitalise on the supporter engagement opportunities now available through Web 2.0.
Play It Forward (named after the movie, presumably) is a start-up that plans to launch a new online giving platform next month, offering individuals or groups of individuals the opportunity to fund specific projects around the world.
Ok. Sounds just like another Global Giving? However, Play It Forward looks like it’s going to have some special aspects to it that could make it stand-out as a distinctive player in the online nonprofit project crowdfunding world.
For starters, it sounds like the site’s user interface is going to be something very distinctive and engaging. Based around an interactive 3D globe through which visitors can view videos about projects requiring funding, it is described as combining “the gameplay of SimCity, where you are a developing your own world, with the excitement of Google Earth: hopping from one continent to another to see what’s going on over there”. Once you’ve chosen a project to support, there will apparently be video updates, blogs and online diaries to help keep you up to date with progress. To help supporters engage their personal networks to gather more support, each will have an ‘Ambassador Page’ – essentially a profile detailing the project supported and who is helping support them, complete with blog functionality and tools for promoting and sharing news about the project. Early designs for these pages have been shared to gather feedback – and they do suggest that the user interface is going to look pretty great.
Project-wise, it looks like donors should have plenty to choose from too. Already over 70 partner organisations are listed on the site, representing a highly diverse range of activities around the world.
In finance terms, 100% of your donation will apparently go to the project chosen, which is great – as it’s exactly what donors want. However, just how this is being achieved is not entirely clear. The organisation’s FAQs explain that it will funded through the interest on donations, but I couldn’t find any specifics about how long they will hold donations to accrue interest. Hopefully they have sufficient funding in place to get them through the start-up and launch phase, because I’m guessing it could take a while before they start seeing donations at the volume required to generate sustainable income from interest payments alone.
Overall, even though their main site has yet to launch, from the content of the holding site you get a great feeling of fun and energy – which contrasts with the more ‘corporate’ feel of some online giving sites – and I love the way they have so wholeheartedly embraced the potential for project crowdfunding through people’s online social networks. As they describe it on the site, “The thing that brings it all together is the social network, connecting friends, projects, field workers and charity organisations. All communicating and working together to create a positive change. Play it Forward is more than just donating to charity. It’s a team sport. If the world wants education for all, or a wild life park to protect endangered species, it’s a matter of inviting friends.”
Definitely one to watch-out for when it launches in early January.
January Update… launch now scheduled for February 09.