Crowdfunding platform SocialProject.PH lets you fund Filipino social projects

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SocialProject.PH is a crowdfunding platform that connects inspiring initiatives for communities in the Philippines to supporters around the world who want to increase the impact of these social good projects.

It all started out as a conversation in 2011, between friends Justin Garrido and Julia Sevilla, about creating a social enterprise and giving back to the Philippines. They had recently completed a brand consulting project in Australia and initially met as Brand Management classmates at the Melbourne Business School in Australia. Faced with the glaring reality -- that one-third of the Philippine population is in poverty while, on the other hand, overseas Filipinos remitted to the country over $20 billion in 2011 alone -- they posed a question to themselves: “Could we engage overseas Filipinos and redirect some of these remittances to development via credible projects?”

In October 2011, they both believed that creating a crowdfunding platform was the best and most effective way to help and support the ecosystem of social enterprises and NGOs in the country. Thus was born SocialProject.PH

We caught up with the founder Justin Garrido, to know more about the response for the crowd-funding platform in the Philippines. Excerpts below:

How has the response been so far for SocialProject? How many projects are submitted and how many funded? What are some of the initial learnings?

The initial response has been very positive overall. We learned that to many donors and project partners the crowdfunding concept is so new that more education on crowdfunding is needed so they can understand the benefits of greater transparency and engagement via our platform.

One partner, Ayala Foundation has been able to raise funds to send four underprivileged youth to their CENTEX public elementary school of excellence for a year. Another partner, Solarenergie Foundation was able to raise funds to provide solar lights to over 100 community beneficiaries in Apia, Antipolo through their solar program that also includes financing for more solar lights in the future. The other three pilot projects were able to get pledges, but because they didn't reach their milestone they didn't receive funding which is unfortunate, but ourselves and our partners gained good insights on what attracts donors, where to pivot next, etc.

The initial lessons learned about crowdfunding from our beta launch with pilot partners is that to be successful, there should be a strong story that makes an emotional connection to donors through a compelling video and a solid social media marketing campaign. Some project partners were more successful that others in this area which resulted in their projects getting funded for milestones.

What are typically the kind of projects that get approved on the portal?

We feature social projects in five categories: Profit + Passion (Social Entrepreneurship & livelihood), Cool for School (Education), Heart for Health (Health and Medicine), Eco-Warriors (Environment), and Guardian Angel (Youth Empowerment). Based on our insights from researching development challenges and meeting with non-profit and social enterprise partners in the Philippines, we believe that addressing poverty and other social and environmental challenges in the Philippines requires a holistic approach which we feel our five categories are key interventions that can do this.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I was inspired by Kiva, an online lending platform that connects online lenders to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Kiva’s 2011 Annual Report also showed that the Philippines has the most number of funded microenterprises. In 2012, I entered the business plan that Julia and I worked on at the Melbourne University Entrepreneur’s Challenge (MUEC). “SocialProject.PH – Crowdfunding a Better Philippines” won the top prize.

How big is your team?

We have a pretty lean team. Our team is composed of myself and my co-founder Julia, a PT social media and PR person, as well as Plus63 design co. and Nadarei Inc for the website design, development, and maintenance. We also have a few volunteers that help in PR/marketing.

How do you sustain yourself?

We charge a 5% admin fee after Paypal fees if a project reaches a milestone or is fully funded.

 What is your long term plan with SocialProject.PH?

There are many different verticals we can pursue with this venture whether it's partnering to provide social and eco-tourism with partners, gamification, and mobile. We also are looking into a social enterprise consultancy in the areas of digital marketing, social media, strategy, operations, and market access. There is also opportunity to expand into social good projects in the ASEAN and Asia region, as well as to delve into equity crowdfunding. There are plenty of opportunities, we're just focused on proving the basic crowdfunding model and seeing where to pivot next based on insights from our beta users and partners.

What is your big vision with SocialProject?

We envision a first world Philippines free of poverty and led by empowered Filipinos through social enterprise. Our mission is to grow, develop, and support social entrepreneurship in the Philippines as a sustainable means to poverty alleviation and nation-building.

 Are there are any similar projects in Philippines?

There are hundreds of crowdfunding platforms globally and in the Philippines I know of three- one that focuses on artists, another on fundraising students for medical school, and another which features creative as well as community projects.

Anything else you want to share with us?

We've gotten a lot of positive feedback and comments via email and social media during the pilot phase. And we just recently completed our first round of pilot projects and currently fulfilling those updates and rewards.Asides from our five pilot partners and projects, in our pipeline we have over 50 credible social enterprise and NGO partners in the Philippines with an estimated 100+ potential social good projects for the Philippines.

Website: https://socialproject.ph/

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