When £1000 could mean two months rent including all bills for the school in the slum; or being able to hire another teacher for ten months, or purchasing three very much needed laptops…it’s a very hard amount to lose which is why a couple of weeks ago we were in a very hard position when our sponsor pulled out about a week before we were meant to fly out to India for our official launch in the Dharavi Slum of Mumbai.
After posting on Ada’s List that we were in need of a new sponsor, I was amazed by the response we received from the community:
“as an individual, I would be more than happy to contribute to a crowdfunding / just giving fund to make sure you get there to deliver the training. I’m also happy to share with my network who I’m sure would be happy to contribute to such a great cause. Keeping my fingers crossed for you x”
“I second this– I can donate personally but would not be able to get corporate funding. Recommend you start a CrowdFunding?”
“I can’t speak for others but I wouldn’t expect anything in return – I look at this as paying it forward. A way of saying thank you to all those who’ve helped me on my journey as a woman in tech.”
“I’d be happy to help what sounds like a fantastic project”
“I’d happily contribute as well. Let us know once you’ve set it up or if you need help in doing so.”
“Put me down on the list too it’s a great cause and I just got back from India where donations to a hospital ward made every difference will share with my network too.”
For me, it was a beautiful moment of realisation that I wasn’t the only person who believed in what we were doing. We had the community and a hell of a lot of love behind us.
— Alison Coward (@alisoncoward) September 23, 2016
— Unlimited Lab (@UnlimitedLab) September 21, 2016
So, we took the advice and kicked off a crowdfunding campaign using Justgiving*. The response was amazing. We reached 25% of our goal by midday of the day we launched it.
At midday, we have raised 25% of our target! Thank you all!!Can you help us reach 50% before the end of the day!? https://t.co/Srqtn3Qdw4
— 23 Code Street (@23codestreet) September 21, 2016
We also had tonnes of people reach out and tell us they loved what 23 Code Street was all about, we had people emailing asking us about the next course and, excitingly, we found a sponsor!
FreemojiLottery.com, a company set up by the incredible people behind freepostcodelottery.com, read my email plea for help and saw the crowdfunding and immediately decided to get involved in some way. Chris Holbrook, the founder, is a self-taught developer and has an incredible story of how he got to where he is now. They’re a company I’ve been following since pretty much day 1 (credit to my mum for being on the pulse with this one!) and one that I will definitely dedicate an entire blog post to soon. Keep your eyes peeled.
Long story short, I grabbed a coffee with two of the team, Will and Grace (I kid you not!) on a lovely sunny day on a pub terrace in Old Street, London. We shared stories of what we do and why we do it and, by the end of it, they told me they wanted to help us reach our goal and come on board as partners for the long run. I got something in my eye at that point, it must have been all that pollen…
In conclusion, it’s got to be said that losing our sponsorship was, actually, a serious blessing in disguise. We are happy that we did! We got to see that our community was way bigger that we realised, that people really want us to succeed in our mission, we got to talk to people and build relationships we probably otherwise wouldn’t have and we got to add another partner to our incredible family.
*If someone has a better platform they use, I’m all ears. I definitely was not feeling the 5% fee.