Yimby - A community crowdfunding platform from JustGiving

I have been working with a number of crowdfunding platforms through the Innovation in Giving fund (a fund backed by Cabinet Office that aims to increase giving of time and money across the UK).

We get a really privileged insight into how products are developed and have learned alot about crowdfunding and other forms of giving as a result. I have been working with JustGiving as they developed and tested their beta project and launched as community crowdfunding plaform Yimby.

I know that a huge amount of care and research has gone into developing the product and so asked Jonathan Waddingham, who led development of the project, to give us some insights into the product management story behind the platform. 

Jonathan Waddingham is the Social & Labs product manager at JustGiving. He tweets about cheese, charities and puns at @jon_bedford

Yimby - Community Crowdfunding from JustGiving

In October 2012, thanks to funding from Nesta’s Innovation in Giving fund, we started to build a new product that would take our experience in charity fundraising and apply it to community crowdfunding. For many years, our users have asked us if they could use our fundraising technology and raise money for good causes that weren’t necessarily registered charities. Thanks to our new community crowdfunding tool – which we’re calling Yimby - we can now help them.

Yimby works by allowing people to create a project page with a specific goal, and then run a 30 day campaign to try and hit their target. If they hit or surpass their target, we transfer the money to them and encourage them to feedback to supporters on how they spent their money. If they don’t hit their target, supporters are not charged.

How did we build it?

We took a lean, agile approach, locking a small team together in one room to build a minimum viable project in the quickest time – which meant we had our first BETA tested 7 weeks from the start of the project! We re-used and adapted a lot of the JustGiving technical infrastructure to enable us to process donations and make payments quickly and used Twitter bootstrap to quickly deliver a new responsive, front-end.

Through regular user testing (we ran almost a session a week for 12 weeks), we iterated on many of the key processes to deliver a product that users understood and found easy to use.

Thanks to integrating into our existing donation process, we were able to deliver a consistent and scalable experience to users, who already had a great deal of trust in our brand and the security with which we handle card payments and personal data.

The rise of grassroots crowdfunding

In the time we’ve been running a private BETA, almost 100 projects have hit their funding target, collectively raising over £220,000. And we’ve seen a very encouraging number of projects hit their target – roughly 65%. Taking out the outlying super successful projects, we’ve seen each successful project raise an average of £1,400 and meet ~160% of their target.

Notable projects

We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the variety of projects people have submitted. From purchasing basketball wheelchairs to buying tools to expand a community garden, to our most successful project – saving Kettering Town FC football club - we’re seeing an incredible range of projects. If you want to see more, we’ve collected all of the projects on a Pinterest board.

What makes a successful campaign?

First and foremost, a good story, told well. We’ve designed the project pages so that we help people tell their story better – from a succinct summary of what they need and why, to a consistent set of questions people answer to give more detail. Integrating with social media is obviously important, as people need to get the word out through their networks, and we’ve seen most traffic come from Facebook. From a product perspective, we’ve seen over 50% of traffic come on mobiles and tablets too, so giving visitors a mobile optimised experience means more projects will raise more from mobile visitors.

How do we vet projects?

One of the challenges of allowing non-registered charity groups or individuals to raise money is that the normal safeguards around charity fundraising are not in place. We use a combination of ways to validate project creator’s identities and we check every page meets our criteria before allowing them to start collecting pledges. The design of the project page itself, and the information we ask users to give us, gives potential sponsors all the info we think they need to make an informed decision about whether to give. If they have a questions, they can email the project creator or us, and we have a member of our customer service team dedicated to help project creators and supporters.

Where next?

We’re really excited about the potential for community crowdfunding, as we’ve seen a great number of success stories already, without doing any real marketing. Now that the name is out there, we want to encourage even more people to make a difference in their community.

You can create your own Yimby page at yimby.com or join the movement at weareyimby.com.


Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Alice Casey

Head of New Operating Models

Alice led on a portfolio of work looking at how technology is transforming communities and civic life.

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