Click, the Essex crowdfunding platform, is a relative toddler among fundraising programmes, but despite not turning three years old until November, it’s posting some seriously grown-up numbers. And today it hits another milestone, reaching £250,000 raised and 200 successful student projects. What was first devised as a small, student-focused funding programme (called “Click” to mean Clique), has grown into an international phenomenon, pushing its way to the forefront of university digital fundraising.
Through crowdfunding, Essex has revolutionised the way it supports student experience projects, helping more students, and a far wider spectrum of activities than ever before. So I wanted to use this post to highlight some of our top moments on the incredible journey
Where it all began?
Launch night was very important for us – taking the plunge on a brand new concept was a big risk, and we wanted to make sure our launch went as well as possible. We invited all the key players from our student, staff and alumni communities, and gave them the opportunity to see crowdfunding in a live, interactive environment. We were really grateful to have nine amazing projects to start off with; they all attended the launch and created a fantastic atmosphere, taking donations on the night, sharing their passion for their projects, with some even performing their work live to an enthralled audience. The success of our launch night put our platform and its first projects in a very strong position to be successful.
One of the main motivations for starting Click was as an antidote to issues we had encountered under previous funding mechanisms, primarily the perceived narrowing of the spectrum of students benefiting. An example of this were actors from our East 15 Acting School wishing to showcase their work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – an expensive but incredibly beneficial endeavour, but one that we previously were unfortunately unable to help with. The result of starting crowdfunding was it unlocked new opportunities for these talented students, and consequently we were very proud to help nine groups of Essex students fund an Edinburgh run, the most in the history of our University.
Setting the bar
Zizzy Bar is a mobile wedding bar that is turning heads as well as profits, earning rave reviews and recently featured in the Sunday Times. It’s headed up by Vicky Madzharska, who also works as our Philanthropy Assistant.
I first met Vicky Madzharska in December 2015, when she interviewed as our then crowdfunding intern. I’ve come to learn from that day that Vicky takes no prisoners, and expects the same high standard of me that she does of the students she helps on Click. In her time with us, Vicky has concurrently earned a distinction in her Master’s degree (her thesis was, of course, on crowdfunding), managed the day to day of our crowdfunding platform, planned her wedding, as well as running two crowdfunding campaigns to get Zizzy Bar off the ground.
Vicky is a real force of nature, a fantastic success story for Essex. I’m not sure what Click would be without her.
Click takes the gold (twice!)
There is no greater achievement than your work being recognised by your peers, and we were very proud to win both a CASE Award and the Heist Award for Click, as well as being nominated for a Times Higher. These represented the first ever fundraising awards that our office had won; a fantastic achievement. A great chance to celebrate and reflect, before knuckling down to drive Click forward once again.
The need for funding doesn’t stop, and nor do we. Click is available all year round, and we are always looking to fund more ideas, and find new types of projects to get involved with. Our diverse suite of student projects is at the core of our programme, and we are always looking to expand. As we say at Click: ‘If you’ve got a project that needs funding, help is just a Click away’. A quarter of a million is a great milestone, next stop £1 million!