Crowdfunding is a democratic form of financing that allows people to direct their money towards projects they consider important, innovative and socially useful.
Each month, we round up some of our favourite crowdfunding initiatives that focus on sustainability, the environment, education, society – all the good stuff – and this is the April 2014 edition.
1. Plan Bee: The plight of Britain’s bees is one of the most desperate in Europe, a recent EU study revealed. As pollinators, many species of bee provide essential services to our economy yet they are under threat from pesticides, habitat loss and disease. The work of beekeepers is now crucial.
Plan Bee is an award-winning, European commission-recognised project that has already secured investment from the Scottish Investment Bank. Based in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, the initiative offers managed beehives to corporate sponsors, allowing companies to boost their image and demonstrate an active corporate social responsibility policy, while having an immediate positive impact on their local area.
2. Solartab: Solartab, a product of the small London-based start-up CurrentMESS, is a high-quality solar charger that allows users to charge smartphones and tablets on the go. Using a solar panel the size of an iPad, the appealingly designed Solartab is already attracting a lot of investor attention.
“We wanted to create a really powerful charger that people would actually want to use, all the time”, says co-creator Mathias Einberger. “Solar power should never be a mere gimmick – on the contrary, we believe it’s the future of power consumption!”
3. Can we talk about climate change now?: The recent storms and floods that battered and drenched the UK saw public concern over climate change reach its highest levels for years, according to various polls. The Climate Outreach Information Network (COIN) is determined to keep it this way.
With investor support, they want to deliver a series of community training and support sessions in the communities that were affected by the floods, empowering individuals to speak out about climate change.
4. Sust-it: Sust-it is an energy efficiency comparison website for electrical household appliances and products. It ranks products by their average running costs and carbon emissions, showing customers how they can save money while saving the planet.
5. Powering conservation on Cousin Island, Seychelles: This campaign is seeking funding to replace the diesel-powered generator on Cousin Island – a 27-hectare nature reserve and a recognised Important Bird Area in the Seychelles – with a solar PV system. This, its organisers say, will save around £600 a month; money that can instead be spent on efforts to preserve the island’s pristine habitat.
6. The Bocas Dolphin Project: This conservation project aims to investigate the secret lives of the elusive bottlenose dolphins of Bocas del Toro, Panama, while promoting sustainable tourism, community-based conservation and education in the picturesque region.
7. Farmer Seeking Roots: Joneve Murphy, an organic farmer based in Virginia, plans to travel through Europe, Asia and South America for one year, volunteering on farms to learn sustainable agricultural techniques, while sharing her own knowledge with farmers around the world.
8. The Unexpected Connection: Palm Sunday and Deforestation: The demand for palm leaves from churches for Palm Sunday has created a market for illegally harvested palm leaves from the rain forests of Belize. With your help, this project aims to draw attention to this unexpected connection and protect Belize’s forests.
9. Dassie: Dassie is an artisan range of environmentally friendly home-ware products and gifts handcrafted in the developing world.
10. AQUAPONICS IN BRAZIL: If you are not familiar with Tough Mudder, consider yourself lucky. These events are gruelling 10 to 12-mile obstacle course challenges, and not for the faint hearted. Max has been working on one of University College London’s Engineers Without Borders projects, which aims to provide the Jardim de Gonzaga community near São Paulo with an aquaponics system, and is running the course for sponsorship.