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How eSolidar is uniting business and philanthropy

Marco Barbosa

Marco Barbosa,of eSolidar, discusses how his company was set up to allow philanthropy and business to co-exist

In May 2014, we officially launched what we call a “solidarity ecosystem”, so that technology could empower social impact (and vice-versa), connecting and engaging the different actors of the social economy.

eSolidar is a two-sided online marketplace that combines charities and their communities, by offering easy ways to raise funds and awareness to amazing charitable causes.     

We found that what's currently wrong with charitable giving and fundraising is that approximately 90% of all donations go to 5% of UK charities. Individuals and the corporate sector struggle to navigate the complexity of the charity world, with more than 80% of small- and medium-sized charities struggling to raise the funds they need to survive.

Many charities have yet to fully grasp the opportunity that technology offers, both to enhance their fundraising strategies, and to boost their ability to engage with individual and corporate donors.

In a world where hotels, music, gaming and taxi cabs have all been disrupted by socially based systems using technology, why has the charity sector not done so, too? Why aren’t we effectively leveraging the mutual desire from celebrities, brands, companies and consumers to expand their commitment to social responsibility? And how do we centralise the fragmented field of charitable giving?     

We decided to try to bridge the gap by allowing people to shop, sell and donate to their favourite charitable causes. At the same time, the platform enables charities to diversify their fundraising base and reach new audiences through online charity shops, donations and special charity auctions with celebrities/brands.     

Our goal is to provide a platform that enables all members of the charitable community — particularly the charities themselves, as well as individuals and the corporate sector — to transact in a single marketplace. By consolidating the interaction between these groups, we expect that it will enable charities to increase their resources and help individual and corporate donors to make informed choices about how and which causes they should/want to support.     

These income sources don’t compete with those that small charities normally tap into, and they allow charities to connect to potential supporters already registered on eSolidar. So, rather than promoting competition between the bigger and smaller charities, there is a chance to connect with and tap into a community of people who care.     

“We’ve seen how digital has disrupted the music industry, taxis and how we consume media. Surely the same mechanisms of personal choice, connection and user reviews can only benefit small charities," says Devi Clark on The Huffington Post.         

It’s a nice theory but does it work?

Within the past two years, we are fortunate to have a community of close to 40,000 people and to have supported more than 700 charities. We had the privilege to work with partners like Impact Hub, Rock in Rio, TAP, Delta and Vodafone, among others in order to empower their brand awareness and employee engagement. We’ve been working with several music festivals and have done initiatives involving 100-plus celebrities, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Elton John, Johnny Depp, Mark Knopfler, Maroon 5, Metallica, Muse and Lady Gaga.     

Furthermore, we’ve been selected by the European Youth Award as the Best Business Potential 2014, and by Forbes 30 Under-30 in Europe for Social Entrepreneurship earlier this year, which gives us confidence that we are on the right track.     

“If they carry on this rate, maybe eSolidar will inspire a revolution in online fundraising. That’s certainly a good news story for all of us!” said Mike Zywina of GoodNewsShared.

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