You may not have heard, but 2015 is officially the International Year of Light – proclaimed by the UN to raise global awareness of how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
To coincide with this, SolarAid – a charity with a whole lot of knowledge about light-based technologies and sustainable development – has launched an innovative new online fundraising appeal called Speed of Light.
On visiting the Speed of Light site it explains some of the great benefits that a simple solar light can give to families in rural Africa and how for a donation of just £3 (€4, US$5) you can provide one. When you make a donation, of however many lamps you choose, then you get to see on an interactive map exactly where your lamps are going to (mine will apparently end-up in a village called Kigoma in Tanzania).
This is really nice, but not anything that others like Charity:Water haven’t offered before.
What caught my eye about SolarAid’s campaign is how they’ve developed it beyond a simple individual donor ask into a really nice social group ask. Because, once you’ve made your donation, you’re given a personalised URL which you can share with your friends through Facebook or Twitter. Then, if they use that link to donate more lamps they are added to your branch of the Speed of Light Donor Community – which you can see growing, along with the impact in terms of lights provided, on the Speed of Light site (as shown in the screengrab above).
Capitalising on the ‘Nominate a Friend’ trend used to such amazing effect in the #icebucketchallenge last year, SolarAid suggest that you use your personal URL to nominate friends to donate and so help grow the impact of the campaign (“No make-up, no ice-bucket, no selfies, just a good cause” as it says on their site) – and a £3 ask is the level where I’d imagine many donors will feel happy to do just that.
I talked to SolarAid’s Chief Fundraiser, Richard Turner, not long after the launch and he confirmed that, while the campaign was being seen very much as a test (which does show a little in the on-site user experience), they are really pleased with the results – both in terms of new donor numbers and new opportunities it has opened-up with corporates and membership organisations.