Just a few weeks behind the originally planned launch date (which is pretty impressive for a development of this complexity) the online fundraising site formerly known as Play it Forward and now renamed Pifworld went live over the weekend.
I’ve been watching the development of Pifworld with interest over the last few months, for a couple of reasons. Partly because it is the latest of a number of innovative online community fundraising developments to recently come from the Netherlands, where the whole concept of online community fundraising has really taken off over the last 18 months or so. But also because pre-launch announcements suggested that Pifworld would offer a very different online user experience to that of established charity project crowdfunding sites like Kiva and Globalgiving – and indeed it does.
At the outset, in addition to the usual project search functionality we’re used to seeing, Pifworld’s project inventory is displayed on an interactive globe (shown above) that you can spin and zoom to see what they have available in any particular area of the world you might be interested in. All within a main screen that also displays latest funding and supporter data. This might sound like an unnecessary novelty, but actually works really well and is a fun and engaging way to see what’s going-on.
Then, when you find a project that looks like it might be of interest, in place of the traditional text and photo-based project funding request, Pifworld projects are promoted through neat little video interviews with key project staff who explain the project aims, activities, and needs – like the woman below explaining her project in India.
Now, other fundraising sites have certainly used video in places to help illustrate project activities. But I’m not aware of any which have taken the next natural step of replacing text and photo project reviews (which are often little more than on-screen versions of good old direct mail leaflets) with a far more authentic and engaging video presentation. Pifworld project updates are also video-based, so you can really see (and hear) what the team have been doing with your donation.
Unfortunately at this stage, once you’ve found the project you’re interested in, the user experience slips a bit – as the online donation process seems a bit more complex than usual. Donations are made from a Pifworld ‘wallet’ which you first have to upload 5 Euro ‘credits’ to. This can be done from vouchers or using most major credit cards (at an added transaction cost of around 1 Euro) but the overall process feels a lot less streamlined than I’ve experienced on other sites. Also the confirmation email doesn’t arrive immediately (I’m still waiting for mine). For all that I love other aspects of the site, I think this payment process could do with another look – given that it’s fundamentally what the whole site is about. It wouldn’t be the first time that an apparently very engaging online fundraising site failed to maximise income simply because insufficient thought had been given to the back-office functionality. Hopefully the Pifworld team will be watching their site analytics to ensure that people are completing their transactions and will fix this if not.
Beyond this, another very nice feature is the way that project advocacy has been built into Pifworld, with people encouraged not only to become Supporters but also Ambassadors for their chosen projects – with blogging facilities provided to help Ambassadors mobilise their personal online networks. There is also email promotional functionality and project details can be shared as an Open Social widget (although only by copying the widget URL and not through a simple pushbutton which is becoming the norm elsewhere).
So all-in-all, a fun and engaging site that will hopefully prove attractive to potential online donors of all ages – with a few wrinkles to iron-out over the coming months. Definitely a site to keep an eye-on.
Meantime, if you’re interested in what else is happening in online community fundraising in the Netherlands, then it’s worth taking a look at 1procentclub.nl and geefsamen.nl (thanks to Victor for those). As well as the latest implementation of the YoCo fundraising platform from my old colleagues at WWAV Holland, which has raised almost 1 million Euros in sponsorship donations for cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding’s Alpe d’HuZes cycling challenge just a couple of months after going live.