Advice & Inspiration

Funding the Farm with a Crowd

We first wrote an article on crowdfunding a while back; explaining what it is and why it is a growing fundraising tool for grassroots organisations. In recent years more and more charities have been trying their hand at it, and whilst they’ve been having relatively good results, and many meeting their targets, last year, a small charity based on the outskirts of Melbourne set an Australian record for non-profit crowdfunding. And, we’ve had a chat with them and got some inside info that might help your small charity too!

Edgar’s Mission works to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome wherever possible, seeking to create a humane and just world for humans and animals through education, advocacy and empowerment. (We wrote about them once before in a Thank You Thursday piece.)

Their crowdfunding campaign, Raise the Roof, ran in April and May 2014 and exceeded their initial target by more than 300%!

It’s fairly safe to say they did something right. In fact, I think they did a whole lot of things right, so I spoke with their Communications Manager and all-round-everything guy, Kyle Behrend, to get some insights from him and the Edgar’s Mission team into just what they think worked best for them, and what advice they would give to other small charities. Before I get into that, have a watch of the first of their videos for theRaising the Roof appeal:

Edgar’s Mission’s initial $50,000 target was hit and exceeded in just three days. With a new target of $100,000 in place, the campaign ended with over $160,000 from 1,785 people across 14 countries.

What advice would Kyle give for choosing a crowd funding platform?

“We looked at all the different platforms and lots of them have quite high fees – some from 5%-11%. Chuffed is a non-profit organisation and they have no fees (aside from credit card fees) and they ask for an optional donation from supporters when pledging. We felt that was a great way to support another non-profit and to keep all the funds we raised. Using the chuffed website was really easy so it didn’t take too much time to upload all the information,” Kyle tells us. 

Chuffed are Australian based organisation and they were so great at supporting us throughout the campaign. We reached our target in three days and didn’t know what to do; guidance from the team at Chuffed helped us to rework our plan and make the most of this amazing situation.”

One of the promo pics from the crowd funding campaign

What are Kyle’s top tips for other small charities considering doing a crowd funding campaign?

  1. You need a crowd

    For some reason, people often think that the benefit of a crowd funding campaign is that your project will be promoted to people already on the platform’s website. Sadly, this is not the case. Kyle says, “You have to have an existing supporter base to be successful. These people don’t have to be actual donors, just supporters, as the crowd funding campaign can hopefully convert these people into donors“.

  2. Pick your project

    Kyle reminds us, “Not every project suits crowd funding“. One-off projects are best for this type of fundraising method, and often, projects that are for something that will be seen as really inspiring and appealing. Your ordinary operational costs will not fit into this category.

  3. Plan for everything

    Planning is really important. It’s critical to think about all the various aspects of your campaign including the right length of time and how you will promote it. “The first ten days and last ten days are the most exciting and active with supporters, but the days in between are challenging to keep people engaged,” Kyle recalls. Be sure to plan different posts that you will share throughout campaign, with Kyle saying to, “Plan for the option of going well, just doing okay, and not going so well.

  4. Digital is important

    The team at Edgar’s were really able to bring the farm to life though their use of video. In fact, they’ve been doing this really well for the last few years on social media and after watching the video above we are sure you agree! Kyle believe, “The power of online video is incredible!

That’s a whole lot of important and useful tips from Kyle, but for the rest of his key points about their success, including one of the most surprising benefits from running a crowd funding campaign, you’ll have to wait for our follow up post next month.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

ThankYou Thursday: Washing under Orange Skies

Did you know that every night in Brisbane around 300 people sleep rough in parks, under bridges, in laneways, car parks and abandoned buildings?

While every morning most people, like you and me, wake up and slip on a pair of clean pants and a freshly washed shirt without any thought about it. With a load of washing costing about $6 at a typical laundromat this is an expense that is out of reach for many who are sleeping rough.

The Orange Sky Laundry is Australia’s first mobile laundry for the homeless, washing and drying clothes and belongings for those on the streets. Currently operating in Brisbane the idea was thought up by two young guys, Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi, in July last year. They started the project after engineering student, Lucas, returned from overseas and decided, ‘Let’s stop talking about this and just go do it!’

The boys have been receiving some positive media attention for their idea and only a few months into their venture were interviewed for the Sunrise program on Channel Seven.

Run completely by volunteers and especially looking to give people between the ages of 18 and 30 an outlet to help people in need, the Orange Sky Laundry provides free washing and drying facilities for the homeless. They also provide specialised hygiene packs.

The organisation’s name was inspired by the lyrics of the song, Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch: ‘In your love, my salvation lies’ and ‘I had a dream I stood beneath an orange sky, with my brother standing by’. The message of the song is about helping your brothers and sisters which are values that are central to the project.

Orange Sky Laundry’s mission is to improve hygiene standards of the Australian homeless while at the same time they can restore a little bit of respect too by helping with their perhaps untidy appearance.

The boys installed two washing machines and two dryers that were donated in an old van that they did up. They drive around to parks and other locations that homeless people frequent in Brisbane. Partnering up with food vans so that people can eat while their clothes are washing at the same time makes this an efficient task for the users.

Lucas says his favourite part of the job is being able to sit and ‘chat with the interesting people’ while the washing machines are churning away.

Orange Sky Laundry is planning to be nationwide by the end of this year and just looking at the posts on their Facebook page you can see that the Australian community are really getting behind this idea. People are continually asking how they can help them out by volunteering in different cities, setting up regular direct deposits and pledging donations. Even people from the US are getting on board by donating via Paypal.

This Thursday we would like to give a big high five and say thank you to Lucas Patchett, Nicholas Marchesi and all the volunteers involved in Orange Sky Laundry. We hope you guys grow across the country and keep up the good washing.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Keeping Volunteers Happy

This week is National Volunteer Week so we thought it would be appropriate to have a blog post on the topic. Now in its 26th year, this special week is dedicated to celebrating volunteers and volunteerism in Australia. Over six million Australians volunteer across our country and this week provides an opportunity to highlight their role and to say thank you.

Here at Fish, we are delighted to have this guest blog from Adrienne Picone, the CEO of Volunteering Tasmania:

In a period where community organisations are expected to get more results on less money, the onus on attracting volunteers and keeping them engaged and happy, will be even greater. How do organisations ensure that they are ‘filling up the volunteer’s tanks’ and not just depleting them?

This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week, Give Happy, Live Happy shines a spotlight on the benefits of volunteering for the volunteer, with 96% of volunteers saying that it ‘makes them happier’.

The reality is that volunteers may give time without expectation of financial reward but they still need to get something in return for their efforts. Here are 5 tips to ensure your volunteers are happy:

1) Understand why they are there

Broadly speaking volunteers fall into two categories – those that are called to your organisation because they are attracted to your cause, and those that want to learn or contribute skills. Volunteers that are motivated by a connection to the mission will want to hear about impact of their work. However, volunteers that are motivated by skill need to know that they are adding to their resume or are utilising their existing skills.

2) Provide feedback

Weeks such as National Volunteer Week provide opportunities for some high profile appreciation but every single day provides opportunities for gratitude. Whether it is through words, actions, certificates or involvement in planning, tell volunteers the difference they make.

3) Speak and listen

Effective, respectful and authentic communication is at the heart of every relationship. Ask them about their preferred communication style, is it telephone, face to face, social media or email? Be prepared to be creative in the way that you both provide and receive information.

4) Volunteer development

Provide regular and meaningful opportunities for volunteers to grow and develop.

5) Be prepared to let them go

At the core of every great volunteer experience is the power of choice. The pressure on organisations to get quality results on limited resources can mean that once we have a group of volunteers we can be desperate to make sure we keep them. The most effective programs take a volunteers needs into account and allow them flexibility to leave at any time knowing that the door is always open.

The focus is often on what the community gets from the volunteer effort, but this year during National Volunteer Week spare a thought for what we can give the volunteers and how we can keep this essential workforce motivated, happy and thriving.

Some fabulous advice here for all charities from Adrienne. Let’s try and look at things a little differently when it comes to our volunteers.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

VT logoAdrienne Picone is the CEO of Volunteering Tasmania (VT) and is responsible for the day to day management of the organisation and ensuring that they deliver on their strategic goals. Adrienne reports directly to the VT Board. She is passionate about all things volunteerism and strives to ensure that volunteering is universally acknowledged as being integral to the social, economic and cultural cohesion of our community. You can contact Adrienne at

Thank You Thursday: 72,000 Books and Counting

The passion and gusto of young people can be astounding, but Canadian sisters, Emma and Julia Mogus, have so much enthusiasm for making a difference that it is nothing short of inspirational. The teenage girls founded an organisation called Books with no Bounds, in 2011 and have been helping Aboriginal Canadians ever since.

Fish Community Solutions Thank you Thursday

Later this month, on April 23rd, it is World Book Day so we thought it would be a great time to share this story about their passion for helping Canadian children living in remote reserves who are in need of reading material and education resources. An initiative organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to promote reading, and publishing, World Book Day is in its 20th year.  One of the reasons UNESCO decided upon this date for the annual event was because it was the date that William Shakespeare died in 1616.

Books With No Bounds believes that every child deserves the opportunity to read and should have access to an enormous supply of books. By providing reading material and other learning tools, the organisation refreshes the shelves of Aboriginal school libraries, community groups and organisations, ensuring children and teens have access to good books, regardless of where they live.

Now in its fourth year, the organisation has distributed 72,000 books to communities in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia and even as far away as the Philippines, India, Ghana and Uganda, Africa.

Books are donated by publishers, authors, schools, individuals and other organisations. They’ve been getting some great publicity for their tiresome work including this feature on CBC News:

This Thank You Thursday, we give a big shout out to Emma and Julia and their incredible work with their charity Books with no Bounds. Keep up the fabulous work!

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Hanging with Royalty

Last month Bianca, aka The Fish Chick, was fortunate to be a participant of the 2014 Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue (EPLD) along with about 100 other individuals from across the Pacific region.

As the Australian Study Tour’s Liaison Officer, Bianca spent one week visiting businesses, community groups and Government operations across Sydney, Canberra and Alice Springs with ten team members from across various Pacific Island countries, including New Zealand.