One year ago whatCharity.com was launched to the UK public to allow them to find charities close to their hearts, homes and offices more easily. This had been my idea and dream for over 10 years and it finally came to reality!
I wish to say a massive thank you to all of the 37,000 charities, donors, volunteers, companies who have been using our site to make a difference.
How whatCharity Began
In 2007 I had a light bulb moment, realising there was a need for a digital service which would help all charities despite their size, marketing budget or the cause they represent. It would allow them to ask for time, skills, money, goods and services for companies and individuals to contribute.
This realisation came from my own 5-year experience in running a fundraising charity. The work we did for the charities we supported was much more than just raising money…..in fact, sometimes everything but money! I knew the idea of whatCharity, originally called ‘Dobook’, was my calling.
However, the idea was so big, I could not do it myself and with only my own money. Since moving to the UK from Finland in 2014, I began research to develop the original idea further, build networks, find team members and partners and money for implementation.
Our First Video
This video we created in 2016 explained our vision and requested feedback and meetings. This video does not fail to amuse me, but hey, I put myself out there!
Many organisations were intrigued by the vision, but unfortunately, we also had some crushing comments as we were planning to use Charity Commission data and give a voice to the donors, which was seen as a threat. Not by individual, beneficiary charities but some umbrella and governing bodies. I only felt encouraged by this, as we all know the only way of building trust is transparency – helping people to find all kind of charities easily – in one place, understanding what they do, have validated data on them and learn about the impact they make.
Here is a more recent video where I explain what whatCharity is and aims to do within just 60 seconds.
The Official Launch!
We launched the platform in its first format 15thMarch 2018.
I was then privileged to be invited to London Live TV for an interview with one of our platform charities You Make It.
That day we had 80 charities listed with fully completed profiles and the basic data of all registered charities in England and Wales ready to be published. Prior to and right after the launch, we organised multiple events, participated in all kind of sector events and met with tens of charities to learn from them and collaborate with them in terms of getting feedback and creating content for our site. We have given a voice to big and small charities and charity support organisations on our site. We also engaged with the public to get the discussion going on their perceptions and desires.
Our Street Interviews
We asked people on the streets, what is charity to them?
We also asked what people think that charities should do better?
Where whatCharity is Now
I want to thank each and every charity who joined us for the launch and each day thereafter. Over 1,000 charities all around England & Wales have now requested us to publish their profiles. We have done promotional work in London, Surrey, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and beyond in order to build the network.
We communicate with over 30,000 charities and over 1,000 companies on a weekly basis via email, social media and customer service. We are and always wish to be a genuinely collaborative operator organising promotions, competitions and awareness campaigns to inspire the public to engage more with charities and therefore help charities to get more resources for their fantastic work.
Did you know, there is an extra money donation potential of £665M annually in the UK if only the public had enough information on where the money goes and what is achieved? We aim to tap into this potential within the sector!
We have conducted several surveys within the charity sector during the past year and collected information on charity-company collaboration, our own impact so far, challenges of digitalisation etc. We also arranged a panel discussion regarding the charity-company survey results where prestigious groups of charity and CSR professionals shared ideas of charities and companies to engage more and in a better way. All this information has been used to plan our product development stages and content.
Promotional Company Tool
In September 2018 we launched a ‘promotional company tool’ for companies to shortlist their favourite charities form our site for donation, competitions or for their employees to choose to volunteer with. This tool has enabled tens of charities to gain new supporters and resources. Here are a couple of examples for you to see:
What The Future Holds for whatCharity
Our journey combining various data sources will continue in the next development stages, but already now with charity´s own project and impact details, testimonials and location information, the charity profiles offer a proper sneak peek for a potential donor or volunteer.
I am proud to announce that the core features of our site will be upgraded in May 2019 and we will move to the BETA stage of our journey. The ‘findability’ of each charity, operational unit, shop, office and warehouse will be developed to the next level. And having a completed charity profile on our site will help charities to build their SEO.
If your charity is not listed on our platform yet, we invite you to join this nationwide database, which will soon provide a totally new approach to matchmaking companies, individual donors and volunteers with charities. This is all in the aim to provide more resources with lower cost to charities and to their wonderful work.
Thank you again for everyone using and being on our platform.
I’m also delighted to reveal that whatCharity has been shortlisted for the 2019 Better Society Awards, which takes place in May!
Author: Tiia Sammallahti, Founder and CEO of whatCharity