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Newly-launched Spark harnesses the power of the crowd

With Spark livery freshly stamped over those of the corporate we used to know as Telecom, the organisation is expanding its Givealittle fundraising platform from charity to individual projects.

Spark My Potential will pick out some of the projects listed on Givealittle and give them crowdfunding coaching and in some cases match pledges dollar for dollar.

It’s chosen 11 inaugural participants for matched funding, which will finish on 10 August or when the funding target is reached.

“Since 2012 (when Telecom bought the platform), donations on [Givealittle] have grown to more than a million dollars a month and we’ve just celebrated our biggest month ever in July,” says Spark CEO Simon Moutter. “We want to build on this platform and do more to help New Zealanders realise their dreams and achieve their goals.”

To qualify, hopefuls have to request beta access to projects on Givealittle, load up their profile and video, and validate their project with three pledges. When the project launches, Spark will contact the person about their project to decide if it they’ll be invited to join Spark My Potential.

If invited, the project is migrated from Givelittle.co.nz to Sparkmypotential.co.nz. 

Spark says coaches are looking for “a great pitch, strong evidence of the opportunity and a personal commitment to make the goal a reality”.

Matched funding values and duration will vary and be made on a case by case basis, Spark says. It will depend on “the voice of the crowd on Spark My Potential social media”, the crowdfunding coach’s feedback on programme participation and between 25 and 30 percent of the funding target being achieved prior to matched funding, according to the website.

“Spark will determine the value and timing of matched fundraising based on the invited participant’s demonstrated commitment to the programme and a project’s independent fundraising momentum,” it says.

The matched funding decision ultimately lies with the Spark Foundation, but customers and the public can give feedback and recommendations via social media.

Among the inaugural 11 projects are Hayley Yu’s Let’s Eat, a social enterprise project that aims to get healthy food to people in low income areas. She’s fundraising $4800 for a trip to the UK to research similar initiatives.

Iain Finer is using the site to raise $7000 to test his home built liquid fuelled rocket engine.

Another project by Dunedin’s Scott Savage and Colleen Pugh’s is Tiny Travelling Gallery. It aims to bring up and coming New Zealand ‘low brow’ artists on a trip to two major international events.


Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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