Support Trust and Transparency: PledgeMe’s values

    Over the past six months Team PledgeMe has been working on our values. What are they, how do we express them, why are they important, and what’s the impact. We came up with a whole bunch of ideas, but whittled it down to five values.

    Before we introduce you to our final shiny values, it might be good to work through why we think they are so important.

    • Because when you need to make a big decision, your values help direct you.
    • Because our values are our banner. They show the world who we think we are.
    • They keep us on track and keep us real.
    • They underpin what each member of the team does

    Each of Team PledgeMe has adopted a value and will be introducing them to you over the next couple of weeks. Here’s the first from Jackson on trust and transparency…

    support transparency and trust

    “Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do.”

    — Douglas Adams

    Even in the very early days of the webbernets, when Douglas Adams said the above quote, there was a huge issue of trust. Who could you trust? Why should you trust them? And what’s stopping any old noddy from putting bullshit onto The Internet?

    To an extent that is still true. Just because something is on The Internet, it doesn’t mean you should believe it. There is a lot of misinformation and dross floating around. However, there are coves of safety where you can trust that what you’re being served up is about as legit as it’s going to get. PledgeMe is one of those safe havens.

    Trust, and it’s sister, transparency are super important to us here at PledgeMe. It is something we hope that the large part of your brain devoted to working out such things can easily spot. There are a number of reasons why these two things are so important to us, so important that they’ve made it into our top level values.

    Trust supporter and transparency promoter

    One of PledgeMe’s roles as a platform is to support trust and promote transparency. We give people a soap box where they can stand, show the world their wares, and ask for help to fund the thing they care about.

    The platform is geared towards trust. We ask that campaigners to transparently provide detail about what it is that they hope to fund. Their story, and how much personality a campaigner puts into it, is a good indicator of how trustable a campaign is. If you’re willing to stick your face, and the faces of your team on a PledgeMe page, and activate your own crowd, then you’re probably legit.

    We’ve also got Tash, Will, and Anna sitting in the background helping campaigns of all sizes be transparent so they can be trusted. Providing feedback on campaigns and always pushing for people to show that they’re real humans and the money is going to go where campaigners say it go.

    Trust and transparency are inherently part of PledgeMe’s crowdfunding experience. We’re able to build that because of this little thing called…

    Constellations of trust

    A recent World Bank report on crowdfunding, the authors pointed out that crowdfunding projects were “unlikely to thrive if social networks do not exist or communities lack constellations of trust.”

    For many campaigners on PledgeMe, the crowd that they’re going out to when they seek funding is made up of their family, friends, colleagues, community, and acquaintances. These are all people that you generally try not to rip off. Even the bigger campaigns, like Eat My Lunch, Songs For Bubbas 2, and Save Moustache all started with someone being transparent about their need and going out to their networks for help.

    Constellation of trust

    One of the beautiful things about PledgeMe is that that trust trickles out from your immediate crowd to your crowd’s crowd. And that’s important, because if you’re trying to do something ambitious, like raise half a million dollars to grow your business, then people have to trust you with their money.

    Through transparency — whether it is a comprehensive pitch for your project or full financials on your equity campaign — PledgeMe puts that chunk of peoples’ brain (that Mr Adams was talking about) at ease. One of the reasons this comes naturally to the platform is because…

    Trust and transparency are important to us

    As humans, as well as the curators of a crowdfunding site, we strive to be transparent, open, and honest with you to build and retain the level of trust we need. We document heaps of the things we do, our thinking, reasoning, and processes on our blog. Heck, being open about our values is part of that journey we’re taking you on.

    In the sausage factory of PledgeMe, we run a pretty open ship too. We use Slack for internal team communication and Trello to manage our workflows. This transparency makes trusting your colleagues so much easier cos you can see what we’re all sayin’ and workin’ on.

    We’re so keen on the whole transparency thing that we’ve twice ‘eaten our own dog food’ by equity crowdfunding ourselves through our own platform. Not only does this show we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is, but that we’re willing to go public with our financials — and all the attention that brings.

    What’s the impact?

    Good question! For us, cultivating trust meets the dual purposes of meaning PledgeMe can carry on as a business and creating a country where any Kiwi can fund the things they care about.

    I’d like to think the impact goes wider than just these two things too. PledgeMe, by being transparent and trustworthy and promoting these traits in the campaigns we play platform to, is expanding those constellations of trust wider across New Zealand.

    Crowdfunding is helping rebuild trust after the GFC and it offers a transparent way to fund any number of amazing social and environmental projects that banks and the stuffy old financial institutions would never think to put their money.

    Putting the megaphones and postcards in restaurants aside has been an important part of how PledgeMe is valuing trust and transparency. We promote it, we live it, and we hope you trust it.

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