We were honoured to be nominated by a member of The Funding Network and then very pleased to be selected as one of five social causes to face the ‘friendly dragons den’ that is The Funding Network. This all happened last Thursday evening. Our Chairman, Andy Chapman, made the pitch and he was supported by ColaLife supporter, Damian Radcliffe, who helped work the crowd!
On Friday we heard that Funding Network members had pledged a massive £10,260 to our core costs. No one likes funding core costs, everyone wants ‘projects’, so this funding is particularly welcome. So far, we have provided extremely high returns for those people who have given us unrestricted funding. The first significant blocks of funding we received: £6,000 from the Boulogne to Biarritz bike ride and the money raised through the Buzzbnk (£3,000), paid for the trip to Zambia to work with local organisations to co-design and develop the plan for the trial. With this plan we have raised £840,000 for the ColaLife Trial which starts for real in January, and £101,500 for development work in other African countries which will start in September next year. That’s a return of 10,400%.
As is usual, ColaLife got an overwhelmingly positive ‘why didn’t anyone else think of that’ response, with a sprinkling of one or two people suspicious of Coke’s involvement and others wondering why Coca-Cola wasn’t funding the trial themselves.
On the first point, despite the word ‘cola’ in our name, ColaLife is completely independent of The Coca-Cola Company. There are more than 200 ‘Colas’ in the world and Coca-Cola only owns one of them. And ‘Cola’ or ‘Kola’ is also a nut with big cultural (and relevant) significance in many African countries.
On the funding front, our strategy has been that we should not approach Coca-Cola for funding, at least in the early years. Instead, we wanted to develop our relationship with Coca-Cola as a ‘trusted third party’. We wanted to be seen as an organisation that could bring unlikely alliances together to do extraordinary things. In addition, we needed a relationship with the business side of the The Coca-Cola Company not the philanthropic side. And finally, we wanted to maintain our independence – always important for a non-affiliated charity organisation, but especially so when you need to show objectively whether an idea works or not. We are very vulnerable to being overwhelmed by organisations such as Coca-Cola and that would not be good, in our judgement, if the ColaLife concept is to flourish.
All of this doesn’t preclude Coca-Cola funding in the future but let that be a business decision they make based on the outputs of the trial.
So once again, many thanks to The Funding Network – your support is very valuable to us.