Why are we creating Milkywire?
The charity industry is one of the largest industries in the world. As an industry, it’s often characterized by inefficiency, loss of public trust and lack of innovation. What people generally don’t know is that most of the hands-on work in the field is done by 10 million unknown local organizations. Right now, studies show that as little as 3% of the funding reaches local NGOs. In the case of humanitarian aid, the UN has set a goal that at least 25% should reach the local level. That’s why we are building Milkywire, a platform for impact that turns this model on its head: at Milkywire a minimum of 80% of your support will go directly to the organizations in the field - and you choose to which ones.
We exist to empower and inspire everyone to make a positive impact on our world. Our mission is to revolutionize 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 seven key problems that can be summed up into two areas;
A lot of people want to change the world for the better but don’t know how (and therefore don’t take enough action)
The current market structure does not benefit small nonprofits at the local level (preventing them from doing their critical and urgent work)
Both of these problem areas are headlines for many sub-issues, and you can read more about the seven problems we are trying to solve below.
The problems we are trying to solve:
1) A lot of people want to change the world for the better but don’t know how
Supporting local charity is close to impossible: The experience of engaging in charity (searching for the right organization to give to, vetting them, connecting with them, engaging, communicating, donating, and then following up) is REALLY complicated and time-consuming. One out of two people give up whilst trying to donate online. We work hard to make the full experience easy: one place to find great local organizations, connect to them directly through the app, provide a reliable donation flow, and provide the behind the scenes and updates from the impacters’ progress and important work
Trust has never been this low: When asking people, the number one reason for not donating to charity, is a lack of trust in charitable institutions. When you give you want to know where your money goes and what results they enable. We solve this by connecting you directly to the grassroots, with funds going directly one way and updates from the field the other.
There are too many psychological barriers: There are too many perception barriers against giving to charity such as the feeling of ‘my contribution will not make a difference’ or ‘why should I give when my neighbour doesn’t?’.
Charity should be a fun experience: Many donors feel like distant spectators, not being a part of the progress and solution. On Milkywire, over time you will get to know the impacters you support and you can see their work on an ongoing basis
2) The current market structure does not benefit small nonprofits at the local level
Not enough money reaches the local level: Only a fraction of charitable donations end up with the people on the ground doing the majority of the work that drives change. It should be the other way around. Therefore we ensure that at least 80% of your support goes directly to the field.
Little to no stability for small local organizations: The organizations on the ground often spend more than half of their time applying for funding. Yet, only parts of their budgets are covered and every year their fundraising starts off at zero. We want to make sure that they can focus their efforts on the actual work and plan more than a few months ahead at a time. The solution to the problem is continuous long term funding. That is why we offer monthly recurring donations to our users, and help fundraising organizations to set up and manage their campaigns from start to end.
Small organizations need you, but can’t find you: Small organizations rarely have the resources or capacity to compete for the same attention, awareness and thereby public donations that the big international organizations can go after. If you are small there is a constant compromise of time between working with the cause hands-on and working to survive as an organization. Milkywire help impacters punch above their weight so that they can find you, while avoiding the costs and a shift in focus.
How we select our impacters
All impacters on the platform have been approved through Milkywire’s screening process. Most of them are or have worked with big international donors and gone through their vetting process. Still, as with most small organizations, not all information about their operation is publically 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. In later versions, this information will be available directly in the app.
Where does your money go when you donate to an impacter?
As a part of our mission we are working hard to connect you directly with local impacters. We are cutting out the middleman, flipping the average charity model on its head and fundamentally changing the way funds normally reach the grassroots. Because we are cutting out layers of middlemen we can guarantee that at least 80% of all donations go directly to the specific impacter’s projects that you have decided to support.
Because we believe a minimum of 80% of all donations must go directly to the local impacter in the field, all other costs associated with bringing Milkwyire to you must ALWAYS fit within the remaining 20% of the donations. Our goal is to minimize this number as we grow, and we never add any hidden fees to your donations.
As part of our solution, and unlike most crowdfunding services, we do a lot more than just provide a platform. Here is a list describing what we use the remaining the 20% for.
1. Continued development and upkeep of the Milkywire platform: to deliver the best possible experience for you as a user, regardless if you are on the web, in the app, or on social media
2. 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
3. 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
4. Full screening process: of the impacter, to ensure they are legit and have a proven track record. Read more about our rigorous screening process under the “How we select our impacters” section of this page
5. Build and manage the impacter’s fundraising campaigns: because we want them to spend their time on important research and work, not to plan and execute fundraising strategies
6. Content produced by Milkywire to help tell the impacter’s story: 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 updates from the field
7. External marketing support: for the impacter to help raise awareness around their work
Finally it’s worth noting that we work 100% on commission. Meaning, we only cover our costs if our impacters are successful in raising funds.
Our short history
Milkywire was founded in May 2018, in Stockholm. A lot has happened since then. We got to know our first impacter. Then we got to know fifteen more. We developed our own content format and tested it. We learned a lot. We built the platform from the ground up, the development team has gradually joined the team since January 2019. We released an early version of this app in Q1 and learned some more. And after a year, we are still both doing a lot and are nowhere close to being done. So keep an eye out for the next release and if you have feedback please share it with us.
We're an independent, founder-controlled company working in close association with a nonprofit foundation. We spend our time designing and building Milkywire, connecting people and projects that can change the world to create a more sustainable future for everyone.
Today we are a team of 18 working together in Stockholm. We’re developers, designers, editors, producers, impact managers, content specialists, marketeers – you name it. And together we’ve onboarded 25 impacters (with plenty more to come).