Does peer to peer matched funding exist online?

I met a guy a few years back, Premasagar Rose. We got on well, and we had a lot of similar interests, but I didn’t know he had left the UK for Portugal until I saw a tweet along these lines:

This isn’t something I’d wish upon anyone, and the story he tells of wildfire spreading across the region, and  burning down homes is horrifying. This thread before shows what I’m talking about:

The pledgebank model and social proof as a way to increase donations

Now, I feel pretty powerless about all of this, and I want to help.

And while donating some figure like £25 is better than nothing, but what would be better would be to have some way to match funds with friends, so maybe three of us each donate the same amount, in return for me agreeing to come in on a donation they make, when they want help increasing the effect of a donation to something they care about.

Essentially I want to try out a variant of the pledgebank mechanism.

So, I’ve sent this tweet out to test the idea:

There’s of course some expectation that the next causes aren’t something I massively disagree with, but I haven’t come across this model before, and I’m curious about whether it’s because it’s failed before, and why.

Or whether it’s just a pattern I haven’t come across yet on donation sites.

Why it has me curious

I’m curious, because (if you excuse the jargon) it seems like a way to use your social capital to boost your ability to make financial donations, while creating social proof around donating, without it feeling so much like a humble brag when you make a post on social media about the donation you just made, and look how much better of a person you are than everyone else (I’m totally guilty of doing this before).

Is this common in the world of online fundraising already? Let me know in the comments if so, or get in touch the usual ways.

Update: it totally worked! WOOHOO!

So while I was writing this, I got two responses! One from @bash, who I’ve know for a few years though the internet:

And one from Linda Humphries , who I met at MapCamp, less than a month beforehand:

Okay, this is nice – but how to do you know people the others really  are donating too, apart from well… just trusting each other?

It occurred to me the obvious way to check if a donation really had been made was just to use the supporter listing on the donation page:

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Three times the amount I would have been able to donate if I was by myself, and having the audience of two peers made me more likely to follow through and donate. Also, the fact that I had a personal connection to Prem made it possible for Bash and Linda to donate as well, because they might not know Prem, but they do have a connection to me.

Of course, I now need to actually follow through myself when Bash or Linda want to donate, but I’ve been pretty explicit and public about the terms, and I have all sorts of reasons not to renege on the deal.

My guess is after we’ve all donated the 3 amounts, we’re free of any further obligations, and the experiment has run.

This is not a new idea – yes, I know ROSCAs are a thing already

What I’ve just described, is pretty close to something called a Rotating and Saving and Credit Association – loads of people who don’t have access to banking use them all the time outside of Western Europe. I did a tiny bit of work for a startup trying to make them accessible back in 2009, and I haven’t really thought about them since.

But I wonder if the principles here, with small enough groups, and small enough amounts might be a worthwhile pattern to explore using for fundraising in future.

If this is interesting to you, here’s how you can help – next time you’re thinking of donating to a charitable cause, see if you can find two other folk you know to come in on similar terms. I’d love to see what questions come up, and see if there’s a way to make the pattern easier to understand and apply online.

As ever, if you have questions or comments, hit me up on the comments, or get in touch using the normal mechanisms. Ta!