Pledgit: Philip Jenks

The father and son entrepreneurial duo talk about raising money for charity through their fundraising platform

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Name: Philip Jenks
Company name: Pledgit
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 3/12/15
No. of employees: 3

Tell us what your business does:

Pledgit is a charitable fundraising platform, similar to JustGiving but with a twist.

On Pledgit, fundraisers have to promise to match donations made by the public to the campaign, up to a set amount.

So, instead of saying, “I’m running a marathon. Please donate.” they say, “I’m running a marathon. For every £1 you donate, I’ll donate £1, up to £500.”

Where did the idea for your business come from?

My son and I signed up to do a 500-mile cycle ride in India this year for The Urology Foundation.

We thought of asking friends to donate, but knew that some of them would be thinking, “Why should I donate to send those two on a nice trip to India.” Better, we thought, if they knew we were taking financial pain too.

How did you know there was a market for it?

People are besieged by requests to sponsor sporting challenges and charity fatigue has set in.

One reason for this, is that the ‘challenges’ often seem rather good fun and even a bit like holidays. And the people doing these challenges are often a bit embarrassed asking friends to donate because they know that what they’re going on is a nice trip.

By insisting on a 1:1 match by the fundraiser, Pledgit re-establishes the relationship.

Fundraisers are happier to ask for donations because they’re promising to donate too; donors are happier to give because the fundraiser is putting his/her hand in his/her own pocket. And the charity raises double the funds!

What were you doing before starting up?

I set up publisher Hariman House and was lead investor for cycle clothing company Vulpine.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes always!

How did you raise the money?

From success of previous ventures, and from a private angel who is very involved with hospice charities (Shooting Star Chase).

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We charge 5% of the funds donated by the public. We do not charge any percent of the ‘pledge’ side ie. the amount donated by the fundraiser as the match.
These are very thin margins, but we’re fine with that.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Big technical start-up costs and the usual battle to get known

What was your first big breakthrough?

Persuading Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitte Shirts and husband of Chrissie Rucker (founder of The White Company) to put up a £10,000 pledge for Into University charity.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do your research. Check the competition and visit trade shows, before you commit, because it’s easy to think there’s a market gap when there isn’t.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We want Pledgit to be one of the 3 major charity fundraising platforms alongside JustGiving and Virgin, and we want it to have raised a ton of money for charities.

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