Interview with Kelly Yim of LIKEfunding
What is LIKEfunding?
LIKEfunding.me is a new fundraising tool for creative projects, charities & social enterprises. It rallies supporters to share compelling stories with the sponsor’s message, so as to generate measurable social media exposure for corporate sponsors.
How does it work?
We select applications from creative projects and then match them with a corporate sponsor, based on budget and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives.
After the matching, LIKEfunding provides a share link or embedded buttons for the supporters to share in their Facebook circles. Each of these share posts embeds a sponsor’s message (eg a logo). And for every like, the sponsor will donate HK$2 for the project. In this case, the supporters only need to like without actual pledging. This created a win-win-win model for the three parties involved.
How did you come up with this idea?
We wish to create a virtuous circle for passionate dreamers!
We have learnt from past projects where we have attempted to do social good specifically using IT. For example our team in Science Park attempted several charity orientated projects – one being a platform to product audio-visual cards for children with Special Education Needs, however due to lack of marketing budget and funding (and probably a downward spiral), these projects were unable to make a real impact.
Based on these experiences, we learnt that publicity and funding are most important for new ideas. We therefore devised a system to deliver both for dreamers. We wish to create a virtuous cycle, i.e. more supporters -> more funding -> more supporters etc (a bit like the ALS challenge) , for dreamers who want to make a difference. This would speed up the developments of start-ups, small charities and social enterprises.
Looking at the trend and market, we think the model makes sense because:
- Creative projects have the capacity to go viral
- There are corporates who wish to have their brands appear in social media and show their corporate social responsibility.
If LIKEfunding could convert part of corporate marketing budget into funding supporting creative projects and charities, it will be very worthwhile initiative. Our team is dedicated now to solving this problem. The system and method was patented a few months ago.
What’s the benefit for Charities? Sponsors?
This is the easiest way for creative projects and charities to raise funds – simply by amplifying the number of likes/shares by 10-30 times. This is because friends of supporters can raise funds for a project by clicking “LIKE” in friends’ feed; it is easier than buying flags from charities. On average, one share raises HK$ 20-30. It is probably the easiest way for supporters to be engaged and therefore more Fans the project can get.
Secondly, it is a repeatable funding source. The free media generated from the campaign could attract more sponsors. Further, there are new supporters contacting the project owner to donate more money after the campaign, e.g.in our campaign Principal Chan Free Tutorial World. Some charities are now asking their existing sponsors to support their projects via LIKEfunding, because they see the benefits of engaging more new fans in the campaign if the sponsors donate via LIKEfunding. This generates free publicity from the same value of donation.
For sponsors we have created something new, with free and magnified media impact. We allow brands to appear in many friends’ circles with compelling stories to enhance public relationships. Sponsors only need to search keywords of their campaign theme (animal, green initiative, elderly, inclusion, etc.) They then can pick projects to place their sponsored message, and to tell their Corporate Social Responsibility messages through these good initiatives. For example, &dear led 10 artists to illustrate stories to promote animal protection and raise fund for the World Animal Day 2014. Via LIKEfunding, CSR campaigns could be delivered in breadth (in many supporters’ circles) and depth (multi-faceted stories) with guaranteed media exposure.
Some listed companies in Hong Kong (e.g. 普甜食品) also leverages our platform to illustrate their community and sustainability investment in their annual report, and help them to prepare the new ISO26000 requirements.
Our project was beta-launched in August and currently only covers Hong Kong market. Recently, we launched the Weibo channel, and the charity Operation Smile China is our first campaign. We are helping to spread the story of a cleft lip child in Yunnan earthquake district to receive surgery. We plan to scale it up to the US market via crowdfunding.
After the CNN coverage, we recently got 20+ projects from all over the world. We are currently building partnerships with overseas websites (e.g. other crowdfunding sites) so we could use the same platform to serve dreamers over the world.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Finding sponsors early on willing to try this unheard concept! LIKEfunding is a completely new concept. Echoing with the book Crossing the Chasm (highly recommended for start-up owners), our key challenge is to find early adopters to try the new idea. Our reference model, crowdfunding, has taken 5 years to educate the public as to what it is all about. Therefore, we will focus on promoting and educating the new concept, as LIKEfunding is slightly more complex as there is more than one party involved (namely corporate sponsor).
In particular, LIKEfunding is still in its early development stage in Hong Kong, with its relatively low population of LIKERS and DREAMERS. Having said that the early encouraging success cases, such as Doctor BB Visit of Elderly, or the Principal Chan Free Tutorial World, provided the proof of concept. It gives us confidence to apply the concept to wider geography with more projects and wider populations of supporters.
We are also grateful to the early adopters of our platform : it takes courage, especially for sponsors, to trust us as a start-up and run their campaigns through this unheard concept. We are pleased to see more referrals and new donations coming in, as our platform requires funding sources to fuel the campaigns.
What would you like to accomplish in the next 3-6 months?
It would be to find sponsors for dreams and build further collaborations in Hong Kong. Thanks to the media coverage on CNN, and other successful campaigns, projects are signing up to our platform at an encouraging speed. We are also approached by several Public Relations firms (e.g. PR for good) to support campaigns of their clients. We were also appointed as the Voting Partner for the Asia Social Innovation Award 2014, helping to spread over 90 ideas for social good on Facebook.
The key milestones for the next 3-6 months are to
- Find more corporate donations to fuel our projects
- Build collaborations with other organizations, to embed “share to raise” button in other websites (e.g. crowd-funding/charity sites)
- Serve more local charities to use LIKEfunding to increase social media exposure.
What’s your favorite project that ran through your platform?
Because I am a Dog-lover, I would pick the SPCA’s (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) “Adopt Me” campaign. The SPCA is helping abandoned animals to find homes and many of them have been in the center for years. The campaign will spread touching stories of these animals (e.g. 黑妹) and our wish to find new families for them in many friends’ circles. We are working to find a sponsor to help motivating crowd-share campaign, while the donation will be 100% donated to SPCA. Since I was young, I have heard about SPCA and their work about protecting animals. But by visiting their shelters for animals, and learning stories of the dogs from the vets and staff , I am impressed by the organization devotion to serve.
The project with most impressive results is the Principal Chan Free Tutorial World one: in a matter of just six hours, the campaign generated more than 1000 shares. This generated a comparable on-line viewership of a featured story from Apple Daily about two years ago. We enabled charities to use LIKEfunding as a repeatable funding source. We wish LIKEfunding could help passionate individuals (as role modeled by Principal Chan who quitted his job and serve the underprivileged kids) to make a difference to the society.