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What Are We Raising Money For?

At the start of the week, I sent an email out explaining why we are raising money. It went like this:

“Hello there,

You might have noticed we’ve been talking about raising money with a crowdfunding campaign. I’m sure lots of you are thinking but what is that money for?

That is a very good question. After all we will be trying to raise £500 000, which is a lotof money (always ask why someone needs half a million pounds).

Here goes: We are raising the capital to create a custom designed, digital platform that will allow us to quickly and efficiently launch joyous communities that BELIEVE IN GOOD (sort of like how Kickstarter enables the creation of projects).

A website is the best way to encourage the sort of mass self-organising that we want to facilitate across the world. At the moment, it is I, Sanderson Jones, who goes through a list of people signing up, then puts them in touch with others in their area. This takes time and is inefficient.

The platform will automate as much as this as possible and allow the millions of people who believe in good to connect with other like-minded people, and build wonderful life-giving congregations.

It is quite impressive that we’ll start 30 Assemblies in our first year, but if we were to have a site like this we can help start thousands.

In a nutshell: The Sunday Assembly platform is the best way to help you have a godless congregation in your town as quickly as possible.

Please ask if you have any questions. Have a super day. Oh, and remember we are livestreaming on October 20th (though the vid will stay online for all those in the wrong time zone).

The number one response I got from this email was ‘Where is the link to contribute to the campaign?”. There isn’t one, because we are going to launch the campaign on October 20th. The other one was, “£500 000 seems like a lot?”, so I thought I’d explain in a bit more detail.

It will come in two parts. Firstly, why raise money for a platform? Secondly, why so much? The reason we’re going digital is because we want to help as many people as possible to start their own godless congregations. This is because 1) it is a worthy thing in and of itself to help those people who attend the services live better, help often and wonder more 2) each congregation will then help those less fortunate in the community around them.

This is in line with our vision ‘A Sunday Assembly in every town, village and city that wants one’ and our mission ‘To help everyone live this one life as fully as possible’.

A digital platform is the best way of doing this because it reduces the cost of collective action. We will be a market that connects people who want non-religious community with people who want to organise non-religious communities. To begin with we’re going to use the site to help create Sunday Assemblies but, in time, we will host all manner of different types of godless congregation.

We can’t wait until their are different varieties of congregations competing for the attention and attendance of non-religious folk. A flourishing marketplace of ideas and solutions will pop up, as folk work out how to do community without the supernatural. I believe we are on the precipice of the Fourth Great Awakening, when the spiritual fervour is rational, and joy logically achieved.

Why not use existing services? Because they are not optimised for congregations and there is a big enough market (300 million people worldwide are non-religious), that it would justify building a whole new eco-system.

So, how would we build it? We would start with a lightweight three person team (positions: UX guru, Product Manager, Technologist – we’re hiring!), which this would fund for the first two years, with some developer support from Eastern Europe if poss. Each London based person paid £40k a year (plus £20k/a on outsourced coders, if we have enough cash).

In order to raise this money, we are using a crowdfunding website who will take 5% in fees, 3% handling fee from the bank (that would be £40k).

Now, we need to think about the rewards for the crowdfunding, on which we think that an 80% margin on the rewards is fair. We’re not a t-shirt company, we’re a company selling t-shirts to raise money to change the world. 20% of £500k = £100k. Then there’s sales tax which, we’d only have to pay on UK products, so we’ll call that 10% of the total raised though it is hard to tell where the money will come from (what happens if the Tajiks go crazy for SA?).

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping score, but that doesn’t leave much left, and we have yet to find a salary for Pippa and I, or hosting costs etc. We still think that this is the 100%, best most efficient way to spend money, but we want to make clear that there are no bank accounts being filled.

Also, apologies for not writing this up better, but it has been sitting unpublished for a few weeks and instead of polishing it up I am just going to ship it. You get the message: we are spending the money on something awesome that will transform the world. We are spending it efficiently. We are not making cash.

TLDR; you’re great don’t let anyone tell you any different.