As part of our work with Cabinet Office on increasing giving, Nesta is working with a range of innovative projects using online collaboration to benefit communities. Solar Schools is one of the crowdfunding projects we've been working with, and the first to be featured in this mini blog series.
Solar Schools is a really interesting take on crowdfunding and bridging the gap between a fully online 'giving platform' and more traditional school fundraising activities; the cake-sales and tombolas that many of us are used to as part of the usual school year.
It works like this...
Each school gets their own webpage, populated with virtual solar panels. Family, friends, and local businesses can then sponsor sections of virtual solar panel from as little as £5. You can do this as an individual by logging in to the site; or you can add group and event donations on behalf of others. Once the school hits their fundraising target, the virtual panels add up to enough funding to install a real solar roof!
The project provides the training and tools schools need to fundraise the cost of solar panels from the community - cutting carbon, building communities, boosting budgets, learning new skills, and exploring energy and climate change in a unique way.
The project has already been running and testing the concept with a first group of schools; with four schools already raising their total; and two having installed their panels. You can read more about one example in Pendock by checking out their twitter feed, @PendockFriends.
Schools, parents and governors are now being invited to put in an expression of interest to take part in the programme by 29 May. You can explore the project and get involved at www.solarschools.org.uk/apply. Starting an application doesn't commit you or the school to taking part, so if you think it sounds like it could be for you but you still have questions - feel free to sign up and find out more.