You can’t beat a project with purpose. So when we heard that IdeaSquares, which helped 25 companies raise almost £10m in 2017, were supporting the 401 Foundation’s crowdfunding campaign – we had to share the incredible story behind it all.

It all began when Ben Smith who, following a rock bottom moment in his life, famously ran 401 marathons in 401 days raising over £330,000 for two anti-bullying charities – Stonewall and Kidscape.

On his journey he passed through countryside, towns, cities and small villages and met the strong communities behind hundreds of smaller charities and projects across the UK.

He tells us: “I saw lots of projects all over our country that struggled to get funding because they didn’t have a big enough footprint or couldn’t prove a viable level of return on an investment.

“One such project was Cafe Indie in Scunthorpe. The idea behind this cafe was to help rehabilitate offenders, people that had suffered from mental health issues and people with disabilities. The cafe would train them up in a calm, fully supportive environment – but ultimately the cafe’s success is its downfall.

“People move on to jobs, become role models in their local communities, positively impacting on the town itself. This was one of the best examples I came across that inspired a real want to support local community projects all around the UK.”

Laying the foundations

401 marathons later and on return to normality, Ben approached Kirsty Ranger, the CEO at IdeaSquares, with a big idea to set up a sporting events charity with 100% of its profits supporting smaller community projects across the UK in the form of grants.

With £104,401 to crowdfund and get things kicked off, this will be no easy feat – but the team has gone ahead and launched the campaign on the day of the London Marathon 2018.

Find out more about the 401 Foundation’s plans in the video below:

The money raised in the campaign will be used everything from hiring a team to finding a new office but, for Ben, the potential for new techie tools is a motivating prospect. “The one thing that excites me the most is the development of our bespoke grant and impact operating tool”, he explains.

“Sounds complicated but actually it about making thing simple for people. So many times we hear from people that apply for grants, that the process is complicated, time consuming and then if you get the grant the level of information you need to provide at the end of the grant term can be overwhelming and take you away from the work you are actually there to do.

“We plan to develop a simple and easy to use grant application process, which will allow the grant applicant to track their own use of their grant throughout the year, at the click of a button. This then gets downloaded into a case study which can be used to show what has been achieved.

“We plan to be able to track the individual impact each donor has to The 401 Foundation”

“Within this we have plans to be as transparent as possible, sometimes viewed as uncomfortably transparent. I’m frustrated with the fact that when I donate to so many charities, I don’t actually know where my money goes. How much is used by the charity to do good work, how much is used to cover administrative costs etc.

“We plan to be able to track all this information and show the actual individual impact each donor has to the 401 Foundation. Taking the grant case studies we will be able to link these to individuals and show them the actual projects they have supported.

“Finally, we have split the UK into 96 different county grant pots, meaning that if you are from Somerset and donate to the 401 Foundation, your money goes back into supporting projects in Somerset. Our events portfolio is in place to help create a spread of funds across all 96 counties, but to be honest this will create a level of motivation within each county to support projects that mean something to them. We will also have a network of 100 national county ambassadors that will work to support this model.”

The campaign is now in full swing and will be running until 3pm on 25 May 2018. You can find out more and be a part of making these plans a reality via the 401 Foundation crowdfunding page.

If you’d like to discuss your startup or project, get in touch with Simpleweb today.

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