Published: 5th May 2020

Councils across the UK are using crowdfunding technology to raise vital funds for vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Money is being pooled from local residents, businesses, council staff and foundations via Spacehive – a crowdfunding platform for civic initiatives – under emergency initiatives launched from Kent to Cumbria.

To date, 14 local authorities have launched #LetsPullTogether initiatives, with more set to go live in the coming days. Many have never used online fundraising tools before but are setting up crowdfunding programmes, going live the same day, and often hitting their targets hours later.

The platform is offering free technology and support for councils that want to help communities with vital supplies through its #LetsPullTogether campaign.

Councils can launch their own fundraisers or set up match-funding programmes to back grassroots initiatives including Mutual Aid Groups, which are vetted by the platform.

Fundraisers are hitting their targets 600% faster than usual.

Live campaigns include:

  • Gedling Council: Mayor Sandra Barnes led from the front with a personal pledge towards her £20,000 goal, followed by all 41councillors pledging £250 each towards the target, before the public took the campaign to the finishing line within a day.
  • Southwark Council: Leader Cllr Peter John publicly launched his campaign at midday and hit his £11,000 target just 3 hours later. The campaign has since entered “overfunding” mode – raising another £6,000 and counting. Backers include councillors, residents, businesses and local churches.
  • St Helens Council: St Helens Council Leader David Baines has spearheaded a local campaign to boost the council’s frontline emergency response. So far, just over £65,000 has been raised out of a target of £80,000.

Founder and CEO of Spacehive, Chris Gourlay said: ‘The current situation is placing a huge strain on communities but as a country, we have the ideas, resources and community spirit to get through this. We’re happy to muck in by waiving our fees.

‘We’ve been amazed by how quickly and creatively both councils and communities have responded to the crisis.’

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality, said: ‘The response from councils and communities, working in partnership to support people through this crisis has been inspiring. Initiatives that would normally take weeks are being set up in hours, mobilising the power of community and collective action to help local people.

‘The campaigns being launched on Spacehive show what can be achieved. The need in our communities is huge, but it’s great to see everyone pulling together and making things happen so quickly.’

Last year, New Start explored the ‘untapped potential’ of crowdfunding for councils. Read the article here.

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