Public scrutiny of charities has never been higher. The collapse of Kids Company, the bombardment of vulnerable elderly with fundraising requests and the relationship between Age UK and E.ON have led people to question the values driving the sector. Charities face a dilemma – the demand for their services remains high but funding from the public sector is being cut. How can they raise funds in a way that is ethical and transparent?
As a start-up charity this question is at the forefront of Hubbub’s mind. Obviously the priority is to ensure that every pound raised secures maximum impact and Hubbub has delivered a huge amount in its first 18 months with a core team of just 8 employees.
Virtually all their funding is from the private sector. They are transparent about who funds them and why. Inevitably tough questions are asked about the impact this has on their independence and priorities. Hubbub’s safeguard is a fully engaged and experienced Board of Trustees who scrutinise and question their corporate relationships. Despite this, critics still find it hard to believe that there is a clear distinction between organisational independence and funding sources.
The charity also know that exclusive reliance on corporate funding can restrict their innovation and desire to explore approaches that fall outside the interest of companies. It is for this reason that they have launched Hubbub Enterprise.
This new social enterprise is a separate company wholly owned by the Hubbub charity. Its aim is to take their best ideas and explore whether there is a commercial market that will take the idea to scale and generate new revenue for the charity. If successful the relationship will create a virtuous circle of increased impact, greater revenue and inspiring new concepts.
We are delighted to announce that the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation has had sufficient confidence to provide a £50,000 grant that enables Hubbub to test the approach. Rebecca Dove has been appointed to run the enterprise and she has already started to turn the concept into reality.
The first product is the Ballot Bin. This idea was created as part of the Neat Streets anti-litter campaign. It encourages people not to drop cigarette buts on the floor by asking topical questions such as ‘Who is the best footballer in the world, Ronaldo or Messi?’. People canvote using their discarded cigarettes.
On of these bins were created for the Neat Streets campaign and the interest it generated from around the world was enormous. Based on this, they developed a version of the bin that can be mass produced and built a web-site to generate sales. It is early days but orders have already started and Hubbub are confident the Ballot Bin will create positive social benefit and income.
The Ballot Bin is the forerunner to a number of other products and services created by Hubbub that will gradually be handed over to the enterprise company over the coming months. If you would like to hear more about what’s coming up, feel free todrop Rebecca a line.
As with much of what Hubbub has tried over the last 18 months, the creation of the Enterprise arm is a leap of faith. There is a huge amount to be done ranging from negotiating the cultural fit of the two organisations through to the more prosaic financial arrangements. What they do promise is to openly share all that they experience – good and bad – hoping that their approach is something that other charities could replicate to help them in these austere financial times.
This blog originally appeared on Hubbub.org.uk. Greenhouse have been working closely with Hubbub on their innovative campaigns, such as Neat Streets, Fuelling Connections and the re-fashion workshops. We look forward to spreading the word about the incredible work that they achieve over the coming year.