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A Lean Approach to Crowdfunding for Social Good

JustGiving are a UK e-commerce company that provides online tools and processing services to enable the collection of charitable donations. Last winter we started a short 12-week lean startup engagement with them for a new crowdfunding product to help and inspire individuals in local communities raise money for social good. It was JustGiving's first attempt at raising money for non-charities.

For the first six weeks of the engagement, we took a lean lab approach to validate the business model hypothesis that there was a market for a local crowdfunding product.  After this first phase, we were invited to demo the BETA version at 10 Downing Street.  JustGiving had successfully applied for funding from the UK Government's Innovation in Giving Fund. The demo received a great response from the government and was a rewarding experience for the entire team. This success contributed to further funding of the product and secured an additional six weeks of the engagement.

[Above: The initial product box to the current live website.]

Both phases started with short one and two day inception style workshops, which provided us with a backbone of ideas to test and allowed us to push forward with development from an early stage. Overall this approach saw success in both phases, although it wasn't without some challenges. We particularly learnt a lot about parallelisation of the UX/Design process alongside the rapid development of the product. We had weekly user testing (they had a great lab onsite), using hi and lo-fi prototypes (the feedback from which fed into our backlog) which validated and drove product decisions.

It’s been a long journey since that first inception, but Yimby.com, an acronym for Yes In My Back Yard, is now live!

Yimby.com has received amazing traction in the short time it has been available with more than 300 project submissions, getting over £400k of pledges and over 150 projects which have reached their target – and all in a little over six months. Most notably to date is a project that quickly raised £20,000 to save the 141 years of history of Kettering Town football club and hopefully helped to create many more. Pledges were received from within the UK and also some surprising locations like Cyprus, Thailand, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. It truly is the power of community crowdfunding and social media in action.

It was a great engagement to be a part of, with an organisation that is well aligned with Thoughtworks. We are excited to be able to say we were part of this fantastic product and looking forward to watching it grow and contribute to social good in local communities.

Interested in innovation labs? Read about an eight-week innovation lab we ran to get an app for JustGiving to market.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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