A new type of organisation is on the verge of launching with an aim of encouraging people to help the environment.

Edge Pledge, the brain child of Samuel Marwood, has already found partnerships with Conservation Volunteers Australia, the Mount Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre and others, for which it hopes to raise critical funds for saving threatened species (as well as other worthy projects).

One of the keys behind making the concept work is Edge Pledge’s ‘challenge generator’, which allows people to essentially take on or give dares to a friend, the website then acts as a platform for you and your friends to raise money for one of the affiliated non-profit organisations. In many ways, Edge Pledge can be seen to be facilitating the original concept of adventure-based fundraising, making it easier for anyone to start up their own event or project.

To find out more about how Edge Pledge works, as well as how far off completion it is, Wild recently interviewed Marwood, resulting in the below Q&A transcript.

Samuel Marwood

Samuel Marwood presenting his concept to conservation groups.

How did this idea initially come about?

The idea came about when I was writing the draft policy for threatened species for the Victorian Government and we wanted to find alternative sources of funds to support all the work needed to save wildlife on the edge. We know what to do. There are hundreds of great environmental organisations out there who know what is needed – they just don’t have the funds to do it. So I sat with some great friends (Carys Evans, Nadia Nath and Dan Eason) and came up with the concept of Edge Pledge.

We wanted to be the environmental equivalent of Movember, but we knew it had to be different. So, using our scientific training we unpacked all the challenge-based charities out there and found two world-first concepts that we could utilise as our point of difference:

  1. A challenge generator that can find three unique challenges for anyone in minutes
  2. A voting process where your friends decide with their money for which of the three challenges you end up doing

So we plan that these features will make Edge Pledge really social and interactive – where you get to participate in your friends challenge/journey, rather than just handing over money.

We also knew we didn’t want to be the ones doing the on-ground works – we wanted to work with environmental organisations who know what to do and were already doing it; they just need a boost. So far we have seven great and trusted environmental partners on board who will also help us spread the word (Zoos Victoria, Taronga Zoo, Earthwatch, Greening Australia, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Mount Rothwell Conservation Centre and Albury Conservation Company).

What work has been done to ‘test the model’?

We have completed testing out on the streets of the concept and with our beta web app. People loved going through the challenge generator and finding challenges for their friends and doing that together. Lots of laughs and gasps at the idea of completing some of the challenges.

The point of failure could be that the site is too complex to follow. Finding three challenges and friends voting is additional to most challenge-based and also fundraising platforms. But we think this is a great and fun point of difference – so we need to make sure it is intuitive, fun and addictive.

We haven’t launched yet as we are still getting the website established. We have managed to get pro bono support to build it – which has been massive – Andrew Croome is the guy who has helped us get this far. We have found some startup cash and now we are polishing things off. We are hoping it will be ready to launch in a few months.

This is a .com venture currently. Does this mean you’re not a non-profit?

We are a social enterprise. We have a hybrid business structure – sister companies working in tandem to meet our goals. A not-for-profit and for-profit. This is similar to the STREAT model. We would not have been able to get the web app build if we were a straight not-for-profit and have secured an impact investor to ensure we will launch well.

Our aim is still to raise a lot of awareness and funds for wildlife (more than 90 per cent going to projects). We have just been creative with business structures available to us to get there the best way.

The administration fee goes towards us re-investing and refining the web app. We are definitely going for a the minimum viable product for the launch. There are so many great features we want to build in to make sure we create a social movement. So that will be where the funds go.

Your dare generator has a lot of preset dares, but can people set their own dares?

Definitely. The challenge generator is about helping people come up with challenges. We found that no challenge-based charity makes it easy and fun to come up with challenges. So we created the generator to prompt people. We hope people come up with even more creative and fun and unique challenges once they start using the generator.

Visit the Edge Pledge website to stay abreast of announcements or to test out the challenge generator.