Village People

New Zealanders have strong local identities.  So when it comes to making a campaign like Bikes Welcome national it can be a bit tricky.  So why a national campaign, and why is funding it a challenge?

Why Nationwide?

When I’m asked where Bikes Welcome is based I’ve started to answer “a desk in the corner of my family room”.  It is the same desk where I used to run global projects from, which accounts for part of the reason why I want Bikes Welcome to be a national initiative (well global actually, but you’ve got to start somewhere!).  The other part of the reason is economics.  For Bikes Welcome to be really great for bike users and business we do need some pretty good tools. Those are fixed costs that seem a bit expensive just for one town or city, but manageable when spread across multiple towns and cities.  And it is about impact too.  Why limit what we can do to one town when the opportunity to get more people biking for transport exists everywhere?

yes_i_bike_grey-and-green_whitebg

Why is Funding a National Campaign tricky?

Let me try and distill the funding ‘conversation’ for you:

Bikes Welcome: “We want to do this cool thing, can we please have some money?”

NZTA: “We give the money to the councils, go ask them”

Councils: “Um”

Wellington City Council have been the exception, as we’ve received funding from them via their ‘communities on bikes’ program.  The thing is, I only applied for Wellington’s share of the fixed costs (Website, Design) and their Direct costs (printing).  So without the other councils coming to the party we have a problem, as you can’t buy a quarter of a website or a quarter of a design.  (And this is a good place to say that we are not talking gold plated solutions here, I’ve kept the budget really low).

Okay so let’s try other funders…..so I wrote dozens of funding applications and here are the responses:

“You are not based in the area we fund”

“You haven’t been going for long enough, we don’t fund start ups”

“You are not our type of thing” [sports clubs, kindys, etc]

Thankfully Wellington Community Trust said yes and provided some funding for Lower Hutt, but once again I only applied for a ‘fair share’ of the funding.

Shop Local, Think Global

So that is why we’ve turned to crowd-funding.  It will enable us to fund some of the shared  costs.  If we are really lucky we will raise enough to get fully up and running.  Once we’ve successfully implemented our first campaign we won’t be a start up anymore, and it should be easier to fund other campaigns via councils and funders.  $3000 was our minimum target to get our campaign ‘funded’ at Pledge Me – meaning it is the minimum amount we needed to raise to get any of the money.  Pledge Me get a small cut, that is only fair, and there are transaction costs and postage to cover too. And guess what? We’ve made it and hit that  $3000 target,  awesome, thank you. 

Let’s keep going! we do need more to fund the complete model, especially the website part.

 Our Pledge Me Campaign Goals

If we can raise a total of:

Then we can do this:

$3,000

We can design, print and post window stickers out to Bikes Welcome Businesses

$4,150

As well as the business window stickers, we can design and print postcards for bike users to handout to businesses, inviting them to find out more about the why, what and how of bike-using customers and bike parking.

$4,600

We can spread the word further and wider with posters and marketing material to enlist more bike users to be Bikes Welcome ambassadors

$11,310

We can get a hugely better website up and running, including a searchable on-line directory of bikes welcome businesses and an electronic ‘invitation’ to businesses

$13,670

We do all of the above plus we can produce a short video helping businesses recognise the value of bike using customers and the business benefits of becoming a BikesWelcome business.

  • These totals include the Pledge Me campaign overheads

Plan B

Of course there is a plan B, that is how I roll.  But it won’t be as good as plan A by a long shot, and it will really limit where and how we can roll out.  Plus it will have me trying to develop my IT skills instead of talking bike parking.  I want to get out from behind this computer and help make Bikes Welcome a reality.  I want time to talk to bike parking manufacturers to see if they will take a ‘no wheel benders’ pledge.  I want to work with design schools on a student design challenge to create better bike parking which is more cost effective to install (current designs often cost double to install).  I want to engage local people to talk to the businesses they support and let them know that bikes mean business.

How are you doing all of this?

For perspective, I pre-wrote this at 4 am.  Like most people I am a busy person.  I have a family to raise and a few extra challenges on that front.  I’m looking forward to getting beyond start up mode so I have time for other things in my life again, like sleep.  My husband and I are currently funding all of the administration costs, as well as the time commitment.

Why are you doing it?

Because I passionately believe in active transport.  Bikes are a great option.  Cars aren’t bad, but using them too much is bad for us and our planet.  These days biking is seen as a recreational activity and sport.  I want to help change that and make riding a bike for transport normal again.  It is good for our health, our planet, our communities and good fun.

vpstarfrontThe Village People: All kinds of people

So what now?  And what has it got to do with the Village People?

New Zealand is a collection of villages.  Sometimes we are good at looking beyond the boundaries of our village, and sometimes we aren’t.  When it comes to biking, most of the challenges we face on a daily basis are local, so we look for local solutions.  So let me assure you, Bikes Welcome will be a local solution.  It will be your tool for engaging your local businesses and council and asking for good quality bike parking, for raising awareness of everyday biking in your community and for getting a bunch of bike friendly businesses in your local area.  It will be a way to show that all kinds of people ride bikes for all kinds of reasons.  To get Bikes Welcome up and running we need to share the costs among our villages, hence the Pledge Me campaign.

Our Pledge Me Campaign has finished.  The funds raised form the foundation for securing funding in future, so that we can run further campaigns aimed at workplaces, schools and universities.  If you’d like to donate to bikes welcome you can do it via Give-A-Little, and we also welcome any inquiries about other forms of support and mutually beneficial relationships.

See also:

Why Crowd Funding?

About Bikes Welcome

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