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Category Archives: Transparent Giving


Created by TheGivingLab team, SeeTheDifference was a pioneering UK crowdfunding site which aimed to bring transparency to giving. Find out how it started here.


Meet MagicMe, a great charity in East London who care a lot about older people, their quality of life and bringing old and young generations into contact with each other.

They were one of the pioneering charities that worked with us on SeeTheDifference coming to our video storytelling training days and who worked hard to create a short film about an art project they ran to bring together young and old.


Test and learn from the audience

Frustratingly it wasn’t a fundraising success. So together we set out to understand why.

We’re big fans of ’test and learn’, trying new ideas quickly and cheaply and learning and changing based on the evidence we’ve learnt. In this case, we looked at the project analytics (people weren’t staying long on the page, didn’t watch all the video) and we asked potential givers (they didn’t understand the project, thought it looked expensive and weren’t sure it was meeting a need they understood).

The MagicMe team took it on the chin, thought hard and we started to think how we could use these learnings and find a new project with more potential.

Compare this with Nana’s film further on:

Success comes from learning, not chance

We were talking about Magic Me’s work and they talked about a project they run to engage older people living in care homes, by running regular cocktail parties with younger volunteers in the care homes to swap stories, listen to music and get a little tipsy.

We thought it had the makings of something interesting.

Our team worked together with MagicMe to help them capture on video some of the fun of the events and to shape it into a short engaging story (90 seconds or less was our target).

We suggested showing the difference your money could make (happy tipsy Nana’s) and together we wanted to make it authentic and eye-catching, so the lovely Annie you see above is one of the great Nana’s MagicMe have held parties with.

This is what it ended up like:

Go Go Nana

It went live and we held our breath.

We were all delighted when the project started to attract a bit of attention, got shared a little on social media and started to circulate (we’re not talking a global meme here, but certainly a much bigger reach than a local charity would usually manage through conventional means).

And things started to happen – social sharing lead to donations, donations lead to more sharing, people talked about the fun of it (it taps into a deep need for many of us who miss our own grandparents) and several people emailed MagicMe asking if they could volunteer.

Then London paper The Evening Standard noticed and ran a print feature and set off a new wave of donations, volunteering requests and people even started to have fundraiser cocktail parties in their own homes to fund sherry in the EastEnd.

Since this pioneering pilot it’s grown substantially and you can find out more at MagicMe’s site and sponsor a cocktail party of your own if you like.

Lessons for Getting Great Stories To Snowball

We asked the team here for the 5 lessons we’ve learnt:

  • Listen to the audience. See your charity from their eyes.
  • Think about how engaging your story is. Great projects engage the emotions (making Nana’s happy is big emotional connection for many).
  • Love audience data and insight and change your approach if it’s not working, don’t give up.
  • Great campaigns are shared with your supporters / givers / campaigners; let them in to help you add momentum and scale.
  • Think more than donation. The power of Nana raised the profile of Magic Me, drew a whole new wave of volunteers, created new fundraising activities as well as bringing much needed cash. Measure all of these when thinking about your ROI.
  • Look after your own Nana if you have one, if not adopt one through a project like this.

If your charity needs help with telling it’s story effectively we can help with options from one day training workshops to creating  innovative large scale integrated marketing campaigns. Email us:


Created by TheGivingLab team, SeeTheDifference was a pioneering UK crowdfunding site which aimed to bring transparency to giving. Find out how it started here.

SeeTheDifference launched over 120 projects on everything from finding a cheetah a home, to bee keeping in Ethiopia to funding village entrepreneurs in India to buying washing machines for some of the poorest families in Britain.

We wanted to know which stories would motivate people to give.

Check out 3 of our favourites:

Refurbishing UK bikes to send to Africa …

The legendary Christopher Biggins on a rubbish dump in India …

The difference a cooker makes …

And the winner is …

After 100,000 visitors had voted with their clicks and credit cards …

There was a clear pattern.

10% of the projects got 90% of the cash.

The top fundraisers were good stories.

But not all good stories cleaned up.

So what made a successful online  fundraising story on SeeTheDifference?

5 Tips for Online Fundraising Success Stories

  1. Tell me something I don’t know. We’re used to gloom and doom in charity comms and they’re easy to avoid online. We’re pleased to report upbeat projects from getting nana’s pissed in care homes, footy pitches and recycled bikes all scored hits.
  2. Tell me quickly. If you can’t explain it in a sentence you’re toast online. The best films were 60-90 seconds. Films over 2 minutes just didn’t get watched. Period as they say stateside.
  3. Am I buying that? Does what you’re telling me make sense, resonate and do I think it’s good value? Hesitation is deadly online. Projects which couldn’t explain the need, or seemed unreasonably expensive (£7k for an art project for 15 older people, telephone support at £50 a call all failed the ‘common sense’ test in research groups).
  4. I want my difference to count. The strongest projects captured peoples imagination and were modestly priced; £5 to recycle a UK bike to Africa, £7 to give a child in Malawi lunch every day for a year, £10 to provide sherry for a Nana’s cocktail party in a care home. Online giving is more fun when it’s feels like shopping ….
  5. Create a crowd – getting the first donations is always the hard part. Human’s are social and most of us don’t like going first and standing out. Seeing other people commenting, sharing and donating gave people confidence to give.

If your charity needs help with telling it’s story effectively we can help with options from one day training workshops to creating  innovative large scale integrated marketing campaigns. Email us:

Show me the difference

Back in 2008 every piece of research we looked at (over 10 years worth), national consumer surveys and our own focus groups and our friends, colleagues and families told us the same story.

Givers first concerns were constant: where does my money go, what difference does it make?

Show givers where their money was going and the difference it was making and they’d give more the theory went (and maybe arrest the decline in the percentage of the population giving too).


SeeTheDifference: crowdfunding pioneer

BBC TV producer Dominic Vallely quit his job and started assembling an awesome team to develop the vision and raise the money to get it started.

The vision was a state of the art site packed with amazing charity projects brought to life in video, where you could browse and choose the differences you wanted to make.

Projects were engaging, transparent and ranged across every type of activity and price point, givers were also promised feedback right from the horse’s mouth, direct from the people they helped.

We wanted to make what you gave to part of who you are and it was designed to be social, shareable and repeatable from the start. Take a look at the video at the top if you haven’t already.

I’m in ..

We needed to raise £2mill to build the concept, so we hit charitable foundations, philanthropists and companies, completing over 100 Dragon’s Den style pitches. In 6 months we got to £1.75mil pledged, success was in sight.

Then the world collapsed.

Remember this kind of stuff:


And our promised £1.75mil collapsed to under £100k in less that two weeks.

The dream was over.

Pivot or die

We had a big idea but a tiny amount of cash.

So we flipped the model (also known these days by the fancier name of ‘pivoting’).

If people and companies didn’t have cash to give as they battled for their financial life, we’d ask for resources and time (people had a lot of time on their hands as their companies froze up) and we’d crowdbuild the idea. We’d crowdbuild a crowdfunding site.

The much loved Conchango, our friends at virginmoneygiving, Reed Smith, Accenture and Microsoft, oh and about 714 other people helped us get the idea moving. And 36 founders also dug deep into their personal pockets and gave us start up cash at a time when nobody knew what was coming tomorrow. We thank all of them.

A hectic autumn and spring saw virtually an all volunteer team open an office, create a legal organisation, build the site, train and work with 150 charities to create video projects and go live and keep on the fundraising treadmill to keep raising bits more to keep the project moving.


Vuvuzela’s at the ready …

We launched during the World Cup in 2010 with support from over 150 UK charities from large household names like Oxfam, Macmillan’s, Children’s Society right the way through to tiny community organisations.

Our very first project to hit its goal within days was this footy project in Africa, thanks to a passionate support from Conchango and tweet help from Sarah Brown. Click the picture for the full story.


Other projects started to attract attention and support.

We were about to start a new era of transparent giving.