Chuffed: be part of something good

By Prashan Paramanathan
Founder and CEO, Chuffed

I first met Rob Caslick in a hotel lobby in Sydney’s King’s Cross. Rob was a full-time engineer working in what seemed to me to be quite a demanding job. Somehow though Rob had found time in the evenings to start an Organic Soup Kitchen feeding the homeless in his community 7 nights a week.

Rob had come to me to talk funding. He wanted to start a garden on the rooftop of the Soup Kitchen. Asylum seekers from the neighbouring refugee service would tend to the garden, giving them something familiar to do in the 4-5 years that they were waiting around to be processed. The Soup Kitchen would get freshly grown organic produce to feed the homeless. A brilliant win-win.

The challenge though was that he needed $15,000 to get the garden off the ground and he had exhausted all the usual channels. Our task – help Rob raise $15,000 with no mailing list and no marketing budget.

Despite Rob’s superhuman-like organizing skills, Rob’s story wasn’t an unusual one. For months, a team of us had seen more and more people like Rob wanting to create wonderful social-good projects but getting stuck at the funding stage.

It made us think – what if we could create a platform that helped people like Rob create engaging, fun, online fundraising campaigns that people actually wanted to be part of.

This is how Chuffed was born.

Chuffed is Australia’s first non-profit crowdfunding platform for social good projects. It’s made so that people like Rob can create fundraising campaigns that people like you want to be part of.

In December 2013, Rob launched his campaign on Chuffed. In 50 hours, he hit his target of $15,000. By Christmas, he had raised twice that amount.

But that’s not the extraordinary part of this story.

Everyone wanted to be part of this campaign. The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food section wrote a piece about it. The 7:30 Report saw the piece and wanted to do their own piece. ABC Radio interviewed Rob and one of the refugees supporting the garden. And ABC celebrity, Costa Georgiadis, when he heard about the campaign, volunteered his own time to be part of it.

While that itself was extraordinary, my favourite moment of the story came after the campaign was over. It happened at their first design meeting for the garden. Here’s the story in Rob’s words:

“Prior to the design meeting, I briefed Laurent, an asylum seeker involved in the design, to think about some of the produce he would like to grow in our garden.

Laurent barely spoke during the meeting, listening to us brainstorming and occasionally jotting down notes. With about 5 minutes to go, I asked Laurent if he had any thoughts about what he would like to grow.

He produced this handwritten list. 33 fruits, 40 vegetables and 14 herbs. Laurent didn’t want to hand over his list as it was partly in French and written on scrap paper but to me this list is the essence of what we are trying to achieve.” 

Turns out, Laurent is an agricultural engineer.


Originally posted on Telstra Exchange March 11, 2014