Brexit. You couldn’t escape it in the UK last year. It split the country down the middle and trampled the status quo of British politics.
The idea of ‘taking back control’ was a central tenet of the Leave campaign, becoming one of the driving forces of Brexit but what does it actually mean?
The truth is there’s no simple answer. But when it comes to crowdfunding in a divided world, it’s far more straightforward.
It’s given people a powerful voice at a time when confidence in the established systems is fast diminishing. People are taking control themselves and getting their voices heard.
We’ve seen thousands of people use our platform to raise more than millions for projects spawned by world politics, establishing us as the home of disruptive statements on both sides of the argument.
Some are serious. Others less so, responding to the big issues with some humour. All matter to the people behind them.
Either way crowdfunding is propelling more and more people into the heart of political discourse in an increasingly tribal world.
All you need to hit the ground running on Crowdfund.ca is a good idea and the confidence to share it with the crowd. We’re not here to take sides. We simply give ordinary people a platform to support theirs. That’s what we do best and there have been thousands of projects, but these are the ones that have really caught the imagination.
‘Making asses of Westminster’: Led By Donkeys
Led By Donkeys, based in London, had a Brexit. Like all great ideas it started out as an idea over a pint and it rapidly became the biggest people funded political movement in British history.
They pasted politician’s spurious Brexit Twitter statements on gigantic billboards in all four corners of the country. It took off, reaching millions on the streets and billions worldwide. At the time of writing more than 30,000 people have pledged almost £1.5 million ($2,558,794) to fund one of the most imaginative and celebrated campaigns of the year.
So far the project has consisted of more than 400 billboards across Europe, three spoof websites and massive projections in Westminster, Brussels, on the white cliffs of Dover, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. There has been a sand sculpture visible from space and the defining image at the People’s March rally in London, attended by a million people. There’s no sign of them letting up, much to the chagrin of the leading Brexiteers.
Changing the history of protest: Trump Baby
Trump Baby changed the history of protest forever. When it comes to biting political statements it’s hard to look past the hugely controversial blimp ahead of the American President’s divisive visit to the UK last summer. It was something we’d never seen before and it even touched a nerve in the Whitehouse, further proof that when a great idea is backed to the hilt it can go global and reach the smartphones of our world leaders.
It splashed on the front page of every major newspaper across the globe, trended on social media for days and was used by a major British news broadcaster to brand their coverage of the visit, enhancing crowdfunding’s growing reputation as a very modern marketing tool. It sparked a copycat project to float a balloon featuring London mayor Sadiq Khan, raising twice as much money for a counter protest. Both caught the public’s imagination as well as the attention of the Museum of London, who will add the balloons to its permanent collection.
“We think they’re really important objects that symbolise a key moment in London’s history of protest,” Vyki Sparkes, Curator of Social and Working History told Sky News.
“The blimps symbolise a key moment. If it gets people talking and thinking, then great. Protest is a big part of London’s history and we’re just bringing that story up to date. It’s living history, about expressing how different people feel and bringing that to life. 2018 was the year of the protest balloon. These were the two key blimps that sum up this change in protest and they way it’s then repeated online and across social media. For us, it’s an important moment.”
Over £130,000 ($221,762) was raised to fly the two blimps last year.
Ball v Johnson
Lawyer Marcus Ball took a different tack. A more traditional approach from inside the system. The political campaigner was backed to the tune of over £500,000 ($852,931) to bring about a private prosecution against Boris Johnson over his EU referendum bus claims. In May 2019 the now Prime Minister was summoned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to answer the allegations of misconduct in public office, leading the news around the world for days, but the decision was later overturned by High Court judges. The fight continues. “This isn’t over, we are not giving up,” Marcus said outside the court.
All the money Marcus is raising is being spent on legal fees, communication, research and upkeeping costs and while we see many people turn to the platform to fund legal causes, this is by far one of the biggest and newsworthy in the post-referendum world.
Better together: More United
More United have turned to Crowdfunder on no less than five occasions, raising a staggering £684,000 ($1,166,810) thanks to more than 18,000 supporters in the past three years. The organisation was founded as the dust settled on the UK’s Brexit referendum to encourage MPs to work across party lines at Westminster.
The organisation have drastically grown their membership in excess of 150,000 supporters, using their crowdfunding campaigns to spread their message about the things that matter to them including the National Health Service (NHS), disability rights, plastic pollution and immigration.
They have used the money to fund 54 candidates across five Parliamentary parties, all of which carry the message of the More United members to secure debates and influence policy change where it counts. That’s real change, from the bottom-up.
The kids are alright: Our Future, Our Choice
Our Future, Our Choice is a group of young people committed to a final say on the Brexit deal. Spearheaded by Femi Oluwole, a British political activist and co-founder of the pro-European Union advocacy group, they’re building a national movement of young activists who overwhelmingly voted to remain part of the EU back in 2016.
They’ve sparked a surge of young voter registrations, mobilising a generation to take action at what they believe will be a devastating divorce from the European Union (EU). It’s paid for boots on the ground, visiting schools, colleges and universities across the country to spread their message and protest. They’re also finding more creative ways to mobilise their supporters and it’s crowdfunding that’s driving that momentum. In total they have raised £100,000 ($170,586)in four campaigns by 3,000 supporters, using crowdfunding as a force for good for engaging young people with politics.
Party politics: the people’s representitives
Changing it from within the political system. It was a truly extraordinary year in British politics.
We have seen Conservative, Labour, Green Party, Scottish National Party and UKIP candidates crowdfund over 700 election deposits, raising well over £1 million ($1,705,863) for fighting funds.
Crowdfunding is the foundation for political change, opening up the process to more and more people to get involved.
It’s real democracy in action.