A survey of Lambeth schools showed that there were over 8500 children in the borough lacking sufficient access to computers and Wi-Fi during the first COVID-19 lockdown. So, in autumn 2020, Lambeth Council launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to purchase laptops, tablets and internet access for young people in education in the borough. It raised over £50,000 in 55 days and approximately £120,000 overall.
Lambeth Council did not consider crowdsourcing devices because of the resource and time needed to coordinate such a project. As one council officer put it, “It’s almost like launching a new service”.
To achieve project approval, Lambeth was able to give examples of successful crowdfunders run by other boroughs.
Lambeth secured the support of a non-profit organisation that agreed to match fund the first £50,000 donated to the campaign. To formalise this arrangement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was put in place with an agreement that, even if the Lambeth Appeal did not meet its target, it would still receive a donation from the partner organisation.
Lambeth Council used a variety of communications channels, some of which were more successful than others. It found that targeted emails brought in the most donations and that social media was the least effective channel.
The funds raised contributed to the Lambeth Digital Inclusion Fund. Grants of up to £5000 were given to eligible Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations planning to support digitally excluded residents in the borough. The full eligibility criteria can be found on the Lambeth Council website.