Why are we creating Milkywire?
In a time when the world needs positive change more than ever, our vision and reason for being is to empower and inspire everyone to make a positive impact. We want to do so by disrupting the charity industry through digital innovation so that everyone wants to and can contribute to direct action for a better world. To do so we are addressing many problems that can be summed up into two areas;
No 1. Most people want to take a more active role in improving the world but don’t know how
Generally speaking, the process of finding and supporting high-impact projects in the field; searching for the right organization, vetting them to make sure you can trust them, connecting with them, donating, and then following up, is nearly impossible. Because many of the organizations you would be looking for have limited resources ( mainly focusing on their charitable work rather than marketing activities) they will not show up on your regular Google search.
Milkywire makes it easy and engaging to get involved in real change, bringing you some of the best NGOs to discover, support, and follow their work over time. New projects and causes are added every month and we take pride in screening all of them.
No 2. Charitable grassroots organizations need you, but can’t find you
If it’s hard for you to find them, it’s practically impossible for them to find you. All grassroots projects are in need of stable continuous funding to be able to do their work. Yet, their reality is the opposite and many projects are constantly underfunded to a point where key staff don’t even get paid. Often, a lot of money never reaches the local level, and some studies show that as little as a few percent go all the way. Although hard to believe, even the best grassroots NGOs working to make the world a better place struggle financially - and yes, that includes those whose work is showcased in prominent TV series and news articles. This constant lack of funding prevents them from carrying out their urgent work.
Milkywire helps impacters find people like yourself, who share their passion for a specific cause. Our focus is to help impacters go digital through the Milkywire platform and provide them with the tools to connect with and gain support from people who care. On our team we have content producers to coach the impacters how to share their story, we have editors who create content that explains their work, and we have marketing specialist who work to connect them with potential supporters. Essentially, Milkywire helps impacters punch above their weight so that they can find you, while doing so at a much lower cost than they could by themselves. We cover our costs by charging the impacters based on commission and guarantee that at least 80% of any donation goes directly to the impacter and their project.
How we differ from other crowdfunding platforms
For us, it is not enough to provide our users and impacters with a crowdfunding platform. Many companies do that. We want to bring donors closer to the impact they are making, while making sure impacters in the field can spend as much time with their cause as possible.
Building trust through transparency
We believe that being able to actually see and follow the impact of your donations is crucial. The Milkywire platform is filled with people who do great things for the planet, and who are often among some of the best in the world at what they do. In the app they showcase their work to the world through weekly photo and video updates. Add to that, each and every impacter on Milkywire has passed our screening process, and have a proven track record to back them up.
Maximizing impacters’ time
Few have addressed the fact that fundraising takes time and effort. We want impacters to spend as much time as possible focusing on their important research and work, which is why we help them build and manage their fundraising campaigns from start to end, as well as create content for them to share in their own social media channels to create maximum reach. But we do not stop there. We also support them through digital marketing to build awareness around their work and to promote their fundraising campaigns even further. That is, in a nutshell, how our crowdfunding model differs from pretty much any other alternative out there.
The impacters and causes on Milkywire
An impacter is a person working for an NGO at the grassroots level, to make a positive impact on the world through direct action within one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Milkywire is currently focused on three of the UN Sustainable Development Goals; #13: Climate action, #14: Life below water, and #15: Life on land. Our long term goal is to cover all 17 of the UN SDGs. 100% of the impacters on Milkywire are working in the field, 80% of them are from the local communities that they serve. Around 40 impacters from 20 different countries are currently active on Milkywire, and our target is to more than double the number by the end of 2020.
The screening process
All impacters on the platform have been approved through Milkywire’s screening process. Most of them are working or have worked with big international donors and gone through their vetting processes too. Still, as with most small organizations, not all information about their operation is publicly available to potential donors. To ensure our impacters run legitimate organizations we collect, verify and analyze:
Publicly available information about the organization such as, geographic focus, cause and method of work
Non-public information provided by the impacter such as, founding story, work methods, statutes, annual and financial reports
Project descriptions and budgets, which must be updated annually
References and lists of current and previous sources of funding
In addition, an impacter can only crowdfund according to the budgets that they are required to submit. The purpose of the screening process is to make sure that we collect as much information as possible to make an informed decision about who can fundraise on Milkywire.
The Milkywire donation model
As a part of our mission we are working to connect you directly with legitimate grassroots NGOs and projects from all around the world. We are cutting out the middleman and changing the way funds normally reach the grassroots. At Milkywire we can guarantee that at least 80% of all donations go directly to the specific impacters’ projects that you have decided to support.
Our solution, unlike most crowdfunding services, is to do a lot more than just provide a platform. All costs associated with Milkwyire must ALWAYS fit within the remaining 20% of the donations. We work 100% on commission, meaning that only if our impacters are successful in raising funds, then we can cover our costs. There are no hidden fees and the model is audited every year. This is what the remaining 20% is used for:
External marketing support for the impacter to help raise awareness around their work.
Continued development and upkeep of the Milkywire platform to make sure we constantly improve our platform and add new relevant features to better support users of the platform and our impacters.
Payment processing fees for incoming donations, and fees associated with distributing funds to impacters all around the world (on average these costs account for 5% of the donation amount). Our aim is to minimize transaction costs so that even more funds reach the grassroots.
Full screening process of the impacter, to ensure they are legit and have a proven track record. Before conducting the screening process we do extensive research to identify and make an initial eligibility assessment of the impacter including information about their organization, international awards, previous sources of funding, and more.
Production of content to tell the impacter’s story to the world, explaining what they do and why it is important. That includes supporting the impacters in their storytelling and providing tips on how to make the most out of every update from the field. There are numerous producers and editors on the team to do this work.
Build and manage the impacters’ fundraising campaigns because we want them to spend their time on important research and work, not to plan and execute fundraising strategies.
Milkywire was founded in May 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden by Nina Siemiatkowski after she had spent six years engaging in conservation of wild lions in Africa. Based on her own personal experiences she realized there was a need for a platform to bring people who want to improve our world closer to the heroes in the field who are fighting for our planet day and night. Through her acclaimed photography project Book of Leon, she first-handedly got to see how some of the best projects to save wild lions were struggling financially and how they were in need of digital tools and marketing expertise to reach more donors. As a mother of three, a tech investor and former marketing executive she felt obliged to take action. The first employee joined the team mid 2018, and the first developer joined end January 2019. Milkywire’s first beta app was available in April 2019, and the beta app was released on the App Store and Google Play in October 2019. Currently 25 people work at Milkywire, the majority within tech, design and content creation. Milkywire remains an independent and founder-controlled company.
The Milkywire Foundation
Milkywire is contracted by the Milkywire Foundation, a charitable foundation to which all donations through the Milkywire platform go. Milkywire Foundation is a Swedish foundation formed in 2019 according to the highest possible standards. The donation model is audited annually.