How crowdfunding platform Spark My Potential has grown from babysteps to setting high industry standards

Nik Pervan raised over $10,000 to build his own car to race in the Vortex Racewear Formula First National Championship 2015
Spark My Potential is going well 6 months into its launch. General manager of Spark Foundation Lynne Le Gros talks about how the crowdfunding platform measures its success.

Why do some crowdfunding projects fail while others succeed? Why do some worthy projects get totally ignored while other not-so-worthy ones gain crowd momentum. The crowd is a mysterious place but Spark My Potential, a platform 6 months into being has had a 76% rate of success for projects it has promoted, giving Spark Foundation some cause to celebrate.

Spark My Potential’s all-or-nothing approach, meaning those who seek to raise the money get every dollar raised (if the project meets the level of funding stated), or nothing (if the level is not reached), and the zero fees approach, are among factors that have worked in its favour so far.

Performance measures

General Manager of the Spark Foundation, Lynne Le Gros told Idealog the biggest measure of the platform’s success is the number of projects successfully funded. “The success rate, currently 76%, is higher than the industry average, closer to 40-50%. We also judge the success on the calibre of projects that we see and the breath of entrepreneurial projects and genres, such as sport, arts and science, that are emerging. We've been extremely happy with both of these measures.”

Some the highlights of its success include helping gather the crowd to back disabled ballet dancer Brylee Mills - she crowdfunded almost $33,000 to become the first disabled dancer to attend Brent Street Dance Academy in Sydney; and helping raise more than $35,000 for two people to become the first people to ski across the world’s four largest ice caps; Greenland, the South Pole, Patagonia and the North Pole. More of these successful campaigns, and the latest projects, can be found here.

Spark Foundation has so far helped fund 30 New Zealanders, raising $340,000. The Spark Foundation has contributed almost $120,000 in matched funding towards these projects. The zero fees policy mean every dollar raised goes directly to the person or project.

Le Gros adds: “When we look closely at individual projects, another measure of success is how fast they fund. The fastest project to fund, to date, was Charles the Magnificent Pony - illustrated children's book (which funded in nine hours and two minutes) and was closely followed by Muka Kids: Revolutionising Kids Clothing (which funded in nine hours and ten minutes!).

“Looking back on these first six months, we have so much to be proud of. The strong selection and coaching process is reflected in the high success rate and we’ve seen some incredible dreams realised,” she says.

Other factors that distinguish it from other crowdfunding platforms, Le Gros says, is the coaching provided to those raising money through the platform.

“We offer expert crowdfunding coaching, which we believe has a big influence on our high success rate. We also offer the potential to have donations matched by Spark, and opportunity for exposure and integration through Spark channels and brand alignment with Spark. We offer strong integration with our existing social channels across the Givealittle brand, the Spark Foundation and Spark.”

Success: Brylee Mills raised money to be the first disabled dancer to attend Brent Street Dance Academy in Sydney

Leveraging IP

She adds that Spark My Potential has been able to leverage the IP of the Givealittle platform which is a proven model, over many years. “We are looking into ways we can better integrate Spark My Potential into Givealittle.co.nz (which we also own and fund, enabling it's zero fee policy).”

The Givealittle platform has achieved its own milestones, with a stunning rise in monthly amount raised from the crowd. Money raised from the crowd has grown by about 20 times from levels seen two years ago. It is also on track to raise about $15 million in social funding from the crowd this year, up from $7.5 million raised in 2013.

Another thing Spark My Potential is working on, is how to speed up the timeframe for projects to get them started on Spark My Potential, Le Gros says.

Children's illustrated book, Charles the Magnificent Pony, funded in 9 hours two minutes

Chris Afanoa raised his own salary $35,000 to be an apprentice at the New Zealand Dance Company