What's Up Wednesday

Kink: A Portrait Exhibition

Jun 29

Antony Kitchener is no stranger to unique photography subjects. He has documented everything from the struggle of the homeless and marginalised at Wellington’s Compassion Centre Soup Kitchen, to the Clown Doctors at the Wellington Children’s Hospital – a project that won him a spot in the finals of the 2014 New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition. We even discovered he’s photographed our very own Chief People Wrangler Tash in the past! (pictured below).

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But now, Antony’s taking on a different project altogether. For the past three years, he has been working on a series of subtle, stylised portraits of Wellington’s BDSM community. While initially uncertain of how he would find this project, he describes himself as “blown away” by the openness and trust of the people he photographed. Antony discovered that BDSM was about much more than just kinky sex – it was about identity, acceptance, and above all, community.

Portraits of Kink

And yet the broader Wellington community was far less accepting. After no luck finding a place to exhibit his pictures in his hometown, Antony began looking further afield. He was delighted to receive an offer from Melbourne’s Brunswick Street Gallery to exhibit the works – but he needs funds to rent the space and set up the exhibition. That’s where you come in.

Antony is trying to raise $2,500 to cover the cost of the exhibition – and with his rewards offering everything from darkroom prints to a full photoshoot with an old-school camera, it’s no wonder he’s already well on his way. We wanted to hear more about the man behind the camera, so we got in touch to find out why you should be pledging to Antony’s campaign.

How are you finding the campaign so far?

The campaign has been going great so far. Better than I expected. This is really a first test for me to see if I can get photography projects funded, so it’s proving rather useful. I think the key thing for me is learning how to pitch a project idea, and finding what the best medium is for spreading word of the campaign. So far I’ve been using my personal networks, and sending email updates about the campaign. I’m not a particularly big user of social media but I can really see how engaging with social media on a regular basis would be beneficial for these types of projects.

What have you got planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

I’m hoping to have a small article in the Gay Express, which is New Zealand’s magazine dedicated to the LGBT community. I’ll be continuing to hustle my networks via email and Facebook, especially in the last week of the campaign and until the very end.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported this project so far. Obviously its a tricky subject to engage with, but the exhibition would certainly not go ahead with the generosity and support of my crowd. Its great that crowd funding platforms like PledgeMe exist to enable creatives and entrepreneurs alike to see their projects come to fruition.

To find out more about Antony’s work, take a look at his website or check out his awesome campaign page here.

What's Up Wednesday

The Lucy Foundation

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Over one billion people worldwide live with disabilities, making them the largest minority in the world. And yet many people with disabilities face huge inequality: they are less likely to be employed, have less access to healthcare, and often gain lower levels of education than those without disabilities.

But The Lucy Foundation wants to do something about that. They know that empowering people with disabilities benefits the social and economic life of their entire community, so they’re working to create a culture of inclusiveness and diversity – with a little help from everyone’s favourite brew.

Through their Coffee Project, The Lucy Foundation will work with five families affected by disability, who live in the small mountainous village of Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca. They will collaborate with them to produce specialty coffee in a way that is disability-inclusive, and with the help of local organisation Piña Palmera, will export that coffee to be sold in New Zealand.

But they need your help to make it happen. In exchange for helping them fund the necessary equipment, The Lucy Foundation are offering everything from a traditional Oaxacan tortilla press, to the chance to have your name tattooed on campaigner Robbie’s leg! We thought this was some pretty impressive dedication, so we got in touch with The Lucy Foundation to hear more about this inspiring project.

How are you finding the campaign so far?

It’s gotten off to a good start, we’re leaning on our personal networks to help get the word out along with some of the bits mentioned below.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We’ve been featured on Bfm, you can catch Jess explaining the project in a bit more detail here. Attitude TV (New Zealand producer showcasing possibilities for people with disabilities) are also featuring us in an upcoming blog post (date TBC).

We’re posting a feature on each of the families we’ll be working with over the coming weeks, so that pledgers and supporters can get to know the people who will benefit from their generous contributions. We’re also holding a fundraiser auction in Hamilton on July 2nd. The theme is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable items.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

A big thanks for the support so far! As important as the fundraising is, so too is the message of inclusion, equality and human rights. So if you’re a supporter of the cause but can’t contribute financially, the further we can spread the message the better, you can help by liking, sharing, tweeting, or telling people about what we’re doing.

To find out more about The Lucy Foundation and pledge to their amazing coffee project, check out their campaign right here.

Don’t just observe. Do.

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Emerging out of a social impact get-together one evening last week, a question that keeps popping into my head parked itself in the middle of my mind. “Will these good conversations be turned into good action?”

Surrounded by great people from near and far, with the skills and experience to come up with ideas that can help to alleviate social issues like child hunger, the concentration of poverty, access to housing and domestic violence, a cynical voice in my head wondered “what will come out of this evening of commentary?”

One bright takeaway was a shared thought that I really believe in: that real social change doesn’t start with coordination from the top, from the observatory. It happens on the ground, in the places that are affected, by those that have been affected and want to wipe away the issues that plague their community. Social entrepreneurs, who truly understand the issue and can delve into the causes and rally their community to take action by acting themselves, are the ones who can make meaningful changes. Through pragmatism rather than perfect planning. Through walking rather than talking. There’s a disconnect between well-intentioned governments and institutions and the areas where social problems exist. Everything needs to be measured and justified and ultimately, gets slowed by the checks and balances of large organisations.

At the very core of government involvement is the democratic dilemma: that long term plans fall by the wayside in favour of short term stopgap initiatives. The misfit between short term government cycles and long term sustained social issues creates an incentive misalignment. For me, government’s inability to really confront social issues will remain — there’s always an easy excuse: complexity of measuring, risk aversion, lack of clear financial or social return, the effort required, the opportunity cost of addressing a single cause, etc — because it’s a slow moving machine.

It’s up to proactive problem-tacklers to lead and let government follow with their support — social enterprises and not-for-profits solving real and immediate issues by simply doing.

Now, with the full crowdfunding arsenal of Project, Equity and Lend, we want to give social enterprises and not-for-profits the chance to fund their causes through their communities. We want to let them thrive in an environment that they can co-create with their crowd. They choose their cause, their community and the social, financial and emotional rewards that they can offer to investors.

For investors seeking social impact, be proactive. You can’t rely on the quick and effective distribution of your tax money to help solve the immediate social issues that government struggles with. Instead choose your cause, the community you identify with and feel strongly about and support them in return for social, financial and emotional reward.

Social enterprises are changing New Zealand. You only have to look at the number of hungry bellies that Eat My Lunch have filled over the last year.

Crowdfunding exists to empower the doers of our world. Don’t just commentate on what someone could do to address existing social issues. Take a leaf out of the doers’ book — support them by pledging and empowering them to do.

Ethical Lending

Our friend, Raf Manji, Christchurch City Councillor and progressive banker, shares his thoughts on how the financial system is broken and how crowdlending can help to create a more supportive and sustainable marketplace between borrowers and lenders.

Raf Manji, progressive banker

 

One of the great opportunities for crowdlending or peer to peer (P2P) lending is that it can create a form of agency that does not currently exist in the lending marketplace. P2P is generally an unsecured form of lending, between individuals, where the amounts lent are usually small scale and distributed over a number of borrowers, in order to spread risk. As it becomes more sophisticated, lenders are starting to focus more on credit ratings and scores and use data to discern whom best to lend to. This is starting to drive a shift in interest rates and how those are calculated, with lower rates for better risks.

But what if lower rates actually lessened the risk of non-payment and default? I have just finished reading a very familiar story, where a borrower took on a short-term loan for an unexpected family need, and ends up being bankrupted. What kind of financial system promotes that? Well, sadly ours does. The need for short-term loans, outside a traditional borrowing format, such as a mortgage, can often be the straw that breaks the back of highly indebted borrowers. However, this straw is not the loan itself but the outrageously high interest rate that is attached. I would argue it is the unreasonably high interest rates (by that I mean anything over 20%) that cause default, not the actual loan itself. In other words, the default outcome is baked into the deal from the beginning.

We hear stories all the time of how a small loan balloons into an unpayable debt, and bankruptcy arrives soon after. Why would any rational lender promote this approach? Well, the interest rates are so high that they actually do get the principal back and a reasonable rate of interest, prior to the loan going bad. One might ask, why don’t they just charge a manageable and reasonable rate of interest in the first place, and not cause such personal misery to those least able to afford the loan?For me this comes down to the ethics of finance. Those who have easy access to capital, benefit both from lower rates and higher returns. The current financial system is heavily weighted against those who are not engaged in the tax-free housing Ponzi scheme and who rely purely on basic wages to survive. The low-grade “instant finance” lending system that services this end of the market is parasitic and unconcerned as to the outcomes they create. They argue they are providing capital to those who are unable to access traditional bank lending. That’s true and raises issues about our mainstream banking system. They would also argue that they price interest rates according to the poor credit of the borrowers. Of course their credit is poor! They live on wages and are often already in debt. The strain of that debt simply compounds away, with stagnant wages no match for the power of compound interest.

So far so bad, but what does P2P have to offer in this space? I would venture that it can offer a new form of ethical lending. This ethical lending is about the broader concept of helping people out, as you might do for a friend, not simply profiting from someone’s short-term cash squeeze. I would argue a lower interest rate would not only probably increase the likelihood of the loan being repaid but would be a fairer cost for the money provided. How interest rates of 20% plus (standard even for credit cards) can be charged, in an environment where, to all extents and purposes, the cost of money is negligible, is simply wrong. I propose that we look at creating an interest rate system where the rate falls each time a repayment is made. So where the initial rate may start off at a high level (I think 20% should be an absolute maximum), it reduces by a certain amount, for example, a half to one percent, after each payment, until it comes towards a reasonable level. How these numbers are crunched remains open.

The beauty of open, peer-focused and distributed systems like PledgeMe, is that they can experiment and iterate new ideas and findings, in order to reach an optimal outcome. For me, that outcome is where lenders make reasonable returns and borrowers pay reasonable and manageable costs for borrowing money. The current lending system is completely inequitable and broken and one of the jobs of PledgeMe has is to fix that and redraw the relationship between lender and borrower. No pressure!

Like a little piece of coal, we shine under pressure! 

 

What's Up Wednesday

Don’t Dream it’s Over

Jun 15

The world of journalism is changing rapidly. From online convergence to the rise of clickbait, journalists face challenges from all sides – so Freerange Press thinks it’s time for a reimagining.

This small, independent cooperative press is creating a multi-author book to explore the way journalism has changed over time – and to consider how it might operate in the future. The book will feature the voices of a wide range of highly-respected and influential journalists: everyone from Pencilsword creator Toby Morris to Pulitzer prize winner Peter Arnett. But in order to get this in-depth discussion of NZ’s mediascape out to the world, Freerange Press needs your help.

They are looking to raise $11,500 to print the 300-page book, and are offering amazing rewards in return – like an hour of feedback on your own publishing project! We were eager to hear more about NZ’s changing mediascape, so we got in touch with Emma from Freerange to hear all about it:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

We have had a great start! The support we have had so far indicates the desire for this book and the need to strengthen debate about the challenges and opportunities facing journalism in this country. This has been seen in pledgers’ engagement thus far –  via shares on social media through the comments from pledgers as to why people think this topic is important too, and why they are supporting us. The questions that the book asks implicitly – ‘What do we need from our media?’ and ‘What could journalism look like if we reimagined it?’ – seem to be striking a chord.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We will feature some scoops! This includes pull quotes and advance extracts from the book, plus some profiles on some of the fantastic contributors, who range from journalists and academics through to designers and students. We will also go into more detail about us at Freerange – a small, independent and cooperative publisher and how those who are interested can become members.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

A big thank you to all the pledgers for getting us this far! We are really proud of the amazing contributions that have been gathered to form this book – so many people have generously provided words and ideas on what is happening in journalism and how it might flourish again. We value your generosity very much as well, and ask you to spread the word and help us to bring this valuable contribution to journalism into the world!

To explore the future of journalism in NZ, check out this awesome campaign right here.

PledgeMe Roadie 2016: Heading South

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Things have moved quickly at PledgeMe in the last couple of years. With more ways than ever for entrepreneurs and companies to raise capital and grow their businesses, we’ve decided to hit the road to tell you all about it.

So, whether you live in Invercargill or Kerikeri, we’re coming your way soon for a session on how your company or organisation can raise necessary capital through your crowd. In late June we’re starting with the Tour de South Island and we’ll be making stops from Invercargill to Nelson (full timetable below).

Why are we coming?

As New Zealand’s first crowdfunding platform we’ve noticed some of our most amazing campaigns don’t necessarily originate in our major cities… which is why we’re hitting the road this winter and bringing PledgeMe to you!

What are we talking about?

Earlier this year we set up CrowdfundingU as a way to help Kiwi companies get ready to equity crowdfund. We’re bringing the first session in this six part series to your town.

Things that we’ll cover:

  • What are the types of crowdfunding for companies?
  • Who’s your crowd and how do you communicate with them?
  • What requirements or documentation do you need for equity crowdfunding and crowdlending?
  • What’s next….

 At the end of the session you’ll have a solid idea of whether and how crowdfunding could work for your business (or other type of entity if you aren’t a company and you’re keen on crowdlending).

Where are we going?

How much does it cost?

Tickets are $20 each or 3 for $50. We also have a sponsorship opportunity in each location for companies wanting to support us on more significant level and become a bigger part of the event.

But there’s a catch: we’ve put a minimum threshold of 20 tickets sold for us to lock in each our South Island stop offs – so we need you to buy in advance if you want to come along!

How you can help

  1. Come join us for an evening in your home town by grabbing yourself a ticket
  2. Share this with your crowd (or on Facebook / Twitter)
  3. Are you one of our fabulous alumni? Want to come on the road trip WITH US? Get in touch with the team to chat more.

 

We can’t wait to visit you :)

 

What's Up Wednesday

Sounds Like a Game Changer!

Jun 8

Tech PR consultant by day, cartoonist by night. Brendan Boughen (AKA Cartoons by Jim) has been living a double life – and he wants to share its awesome results with you.

Brendan has been working for a wide range of technology brands for the last 10 years, and drawing cartoons about the world of tech the entire time. And now, he’s selected around 100 of his favourite of those to share with you! Cartoons of everything from fibre-networks to space travel will be collected in one volume, alongside his written thoughts of his experiences in the tech industry, as it has changed dramatically over the last decade. But in order to make this awesome book become a reality, he needs your help.

To find out more about how he hopes to get there, we caught up with Brendan and asked all about his campaign:

How are you finding the campaign so far?

It’s been fun! I was totally stoked to get 10% funded already in the first week. I’m well aware that with these sort of campaigns there’s usually a burst of support at the beginning and then again at the end, but I’m really hoping to be able to keep up the momentum throughout. Mostly though, I’m just glad to have the project off the ground at last. This book was 10 years in the making as I drew cartoons alongside my daily work as a PR consultant for tech brands, and then another year putting together the various written parts to introduce the book and each of the chapters – which totalled about 4,000 words – all while I was also working a full time job.

What people may not know is that I was originally aiming to have the book completed and run this crowd-funding campaign about a year ago, but due to two bereavements in my family over the past 18 months, it was necessary to put it on hold. (FYI … The family members were my wife’s mother and father, who were both lovely people and great supporters of my cartooning over the years. They died within a year of each other; she from cancer and he of a stroke. A bit of reflection about my mother-in-law’s death can be read here)

Even the video about the campaign (which was filmed and produced by the immensely talented Geraldine Clermont!) was originally recorded and edited about six months ago when I aiming to get the book together before Christmas 2015. However, life intervened – as it has so often over the last couple years – and we had to put it on ice until all the book content was ready. Thankfully it still makes sense half a year later! J

(I wanted to note here too how impressed I’ve been with how easy it’s been to get the whole funding campaign up and running through PledgeMe. It’s a fantastic site, and the support that has been provided by the team is amazing. My sincere thanks to you all for helping bring this dream to life!)

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

Having worked in PR for the last decade, I have a few good media contacts out there, so I’m aiming to get a bit of wider coverage for the book with a media release in the coming weeks. As noted above, the book is not just cartoons; it also contains a lot of written reflection on the human journey of technology over the last decade, and especially the human tendency to obsess over tech. There’s also a focus on some of the more ‘niche’ aspects of the IT industry (eg. big data, IT infrastructure, cyber security) so I’m hoping that will be of interest to the thousands of people who work in the New Zealand tech sector.

This content is also going to form the basis of the ‘TED-talk’ style presentation I’m making available as part of the ‘Ultimate’ rewards pack that is part of my campaign. (ie. the $500+ pack.) I’m only making five of these available as it will involve me doing a live presentation of the 10-year journey of technology documented in the book in cartoon form, with an accompanying dazzling PowerPoint slideshow. It should be a fun and entertaining event for businesses or other groups, so I’m hoping to connect with some that will pledge for those packs.

Of course, if you don’t want the presentation, supporters could go for the $250 Premium pledge pack where in addition to the book, I will draw a brand new cartoon for you on the topic of your choosing! It could be a gift for someone special, or to illustrate something that you could use in your own work. I’ve drawn plenty of these in the past for friends and family, and I love to have the opportunity to turn my cartoonist’s brain to areas where it wouldn’t usually venture.

Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?

Just a huge thank you to all those people out there who seem to really enjoy my cartoons and have expressed their support so far. It continues to surprise and delight me to hear the reaction to cartoons I put out there. Anytime I see someone look at a cartoon I’ve done and have a good laugh is the best feeling in the world. I’ve made sure that all the cartoons that are going into ‘Sounds Like a Game Changer’ are my funniest ones on technology, so I’m looking forward to getting that positive energy out to as many people as I can. I’m hugely grateful to everyone who has pledged so far, and to all those who have shared the details of the campaign on Facebook or Twitter, I hope they and their followers will also feel moved enough to pledge before the campaign is done!

 To find out more about Brendan’s game-changing campaign, check it out right here.

How to: Annual General Meetings

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For those of you with a 31 March balance date like us, it’s getting to AGM time.

Running your AGM (especially your first crowd related one) can be a bit daunting. We thought we’d share how we do things to make it a bit less mystical (onesies are optional).

 

The nitty gritty

Registered companies are required to hold an annual meeting of shareholders (AGM) annually unless a resolution in lieu of a meeting is passed.

 

Typically, you need to have your AGM within 6 months of the previous financial year closing (eg. if your balance date is 31 March you need to have your AGM by 30 September of that same year) or 10 months if you fall under an exemption.

Read More

What's Up Wednesday

Getting in Gear with Diocesan School for Girls

Jun 1

The future of fundraising is changing – and these eight amazing groups of Year 11 students are planning to change with it.

Gone are the sausage sizzles and bake sales of the past – instead, Diocesan School for Girls wants to teach its students all about reaching out to their crowds online. As one student put it: “why drag a BBQ around if instead we can create compelling online campaigns that target large crowds and inspire action?” And this is the aim with their collection of campaigns: to raise funds in a new and innovative way, and support a good cause while doing it.

That good cause is Fostering Kids NZ. The students have divided themselves into eight teams, each aiming to raise at least $550 with their own PledgeMe campaign, in the hopes of donating 24 bikes to the organisation. As rewards, they’re offering everything from homemade cookies to giving up their cellphones for 24 hours – anything it takes to hit their goal. One group has already shot through their target by nearly $200, and the others are well on their way!

Chris Clay had this to say about the decision to work with PledgeMe for this fundraising effort:

“A street protest is now more likely to be organised through twitter; facebook campaigns are creating real social change; and fundraising initiatives can be promoted to thousands of people through sites like PledgeMe.

“Our young people need to understand how to navigate and benefit from the opportunities that the online world offers. We need to provide them with experiences of operating in large and complex networks; of activating large crowds of people that they’re never likely to meet; to using online tools to bring about positive social impacts.

“These are skills that will be essential in the future. At school, what better way to do this than through a fundraising campaign that meets a local need in the community.”

To pledge to these awesome campaigns, check out Diocesan School For Girls’ profile here, or click on one of the individual links below and take a look at their campaign videos:

MP bikes

Ride into the future

Pumped Up

Bicycool (featuring the brilliant pun “are you two tyred?”)

MI bikes

Build a bike, foster a smile! 

Bikes for benefit

ED bikes

What's Up Wednesday

Scooping up another campaign!

May 25

The team at Scoop are no strangers to perfecting the PledgeMe pitch. In the last year alone they’ve run three successful campaigns with us – and now they’re back at it again.

Over the past 18 months since they first crowdfunded to launch their platform, Scoop has stood against the tide of clickbait journalism by offering quality news to kiwis which is not reliant on advertising for funding. They see this as the “future of news” – and now they want to offer more New Zealanders the chance to get on board.

With their 2016 membership drive, Scoop is seeking 1000 new members, and looking to use the money pledged for all-important tech upgrades and public interest grants. They’re already nearly halfway to their target, but we wanted to hear more about how they’re planning to get there – so we had a chat to Alastair Thompson, one of Scoop’s founders.

How are you finding the campaign so far?

his Membership campaign started significantly faster than our previous campaigns and the team working on it have been really enjoying it. There is something very special about engaging a crowd via the PledgeMe platform, an atmosphere of generosity and kindness which feels very genuine and real, and which is shown most clearly in the lovely comments of support which many pledgers put with their pledges.

What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

It is time for us to make another big push out to our crowd and we will be stepping up the activity for remainder of the campaign. In the coming week we have two several significant pieces of content to release which we hope will provide added substance and background to our pitch including an impact statement, which talks about the why of the Scoop Foundation, as well as a public version of our internal vision statement, a kind of roadmap for where we hope to take things over the next few years.

We have a few other plans up our sleeve to bring life to the campaign too, including a celebration of  Scoop.co.nz‘s 17th Birthday on June 8th.

Anything you want to shout out to your crowd?

Of course and thank you for the opportunity! We’d like to thank our crowd for their ongoing support and encouragement. We particularly appreciate the thoughtful comments that many have made when they pledge, and which we have been turning into acknowledgement @ScoopTrust tweets and Facebook posts. It is a difficult time for everybody in the news media and it is very nice to have people say in their own words why the appreciate what we are doing. Warms the cockles of our hearts.

To warm Scoop’s cockles even more and help support the future of NZ news, head on over to their campaign page here and get pledging!