Manchester Veg People

Introduction

Manchester Veg People is a co-op of local organic growers and buyers who are working together to help develop a new model for the local food supply chain in Manchester. Having more storage space and their own van means the co-op will be able to supply more pubs, restaurants, canteens and hopefully schools across Greater Manchester and in turn grow more local farmers by paying them a living wage. 

They set up their campaign on Crowdfunder, an online platform that allows charities to create a time-limited fundraising campaign for a particular project and ask people to donate to it. Charities can offer ‘rewards’ for different levels of donation to help encourage people to give. If you don’t hit your full target, the money is returned to the donors. 

Over 300 people from across the UK made pledges from £5 to £1000. Hitting the target also meant MVP could collect £5,500 match-funding from Government department DEFRA through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), bringing the total raised to £22,000.
 

Publicising the campaign

Helen Woodcock of the Kindling Trust, which works closely with Manchester Veg People and helped run the campaign, said: “The key is to make the campaign message really simple but innovative and interesting. It needs to be a bit quirky and different to attract publicity.”

The group kicked off the venture with a publicity stunt to attract press interest. A team of people dressed as vegetables cycled a trailer of locally grown veg across Manchester to café bar and MVP member Common, where they cooked and served up the produce.

This helped start the campaign off with a bang, and donations were high for the first couple of weeks. A lull followed, so the group put in some money of their own to inject some energy into the campaign.

Helen said: “We also changed the focus of the campaign halfway through to show how improved equipment would help MVP supply quality food for schools. This meant potential donors could see the wider picture of what the money would allow them to achieve. “

The group used a variety of different marketing methods, including contacting local press, giving out printed bookmarks, a poster, and producing a good quality video promoting the campaign that could be used on the Crowdfunding website and on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They found social media a particularly effective way to get the message across.

Challenges

Helen said: “Setting up and running the campaign took an incredible amount of work. We think 6 weeks was probably too long a run as well – four would have been better, with a longer lead in. It was also hard to find enough rewards for donors - though in the end the rewards we got were really great.”

Rewards offered by the group ranged from goody bags to 'be a farmer days' to a 9-course tasting menu at an award-winning restaurant.

Advice for other groups

Helen said: “Some people don't like making payments online and prefer to put a cheque in the post so you need to make provision for this as well.

“We think the majority of support came from our personal contacts, and donors may have been encouraged by the fact that we had the offer of matched funding from Defra.”

Useful links

Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/

Manchester Veg People: http://vegpeople.org.uk/

The Kindling Trust: http://www.kindling.org.uk/