The Our Pledge ecosystem consists of three key elements: a crowd-funding website and app, a digital loyalty card scheme and a network of partners.
The Crowd-funding element
This is the central part of the ecosystem: a website and app that features campaigns launched by consumers, employees and businesses. If you are disappointed with the behaviour or choices of a business or brand (whether you shop there or work there), this is your starting point. It works much in the same way as any crowd-funding platform:
Identify your mission eg. to persuade and support my favourite local cafe to abolish single use cups
Create an Our Pledge account and state your campaign parameters eg. food industry, single use plastics, local business. Our relevant account manager will be in touch.
The Our Pledge account manager will then work with you to draft an approach to your target business. We’ll contact them and explain the situation and ask them what’s holding them back from change. Depending on their response, we will negotiate a figure at which their plastic cups policy can be abandoned eg. £500, and together we will set up your Our Pledge page and the campaign is made live online and in the Our Pledge app.
The business officially accepts your challenge and pledges to change if the campaign is a success
At this point, all work is done by Our Pledge in collaboration with you to persuade other customers - or ‘pledgers’ - to ‘pay it forward’ until the £500 threshold is reached - just like any other crowd-funding campaign. In this case, each amount pledged by a customer would be quantified against an advance order up to a £500 cap (indeed, one person could buy 200 coffees at £2.50 in advance!). The system logs a pledger’s card details in the system and when eg. the £500 is reached, the money is collected, each pledger is issued with a voucher and the company is now obliged to use that cash to switch to compostable cups.
In an ideal world, each pledger receives not only a voucher to exchange for coffee, but extra bonuses from the business (eg. a branded keep-cup). In addition, they will gain 25 ‘loyalty card pledge points’ for every successful campaign they support, which can be used against purchases elsewhere within the Our Pledge Network…
2. The Pledge Card Loyalty Scheme Element
This is the part that expands the Our Pledge concept beyond single campaigns, and embeds pledgers within their local communities. Inspired by the Transition Town and Hull Coin concepts of local currencies, as well as the LETS scheme, this digital loyalty card system is designed to encourage spending and exchange between local businesses. It works as follows:
In the pilot, local businesses will be invited to sign up as partners to the Our Pledge loyalty card scheme: the Pledge Card. It may be a reflection of eg. a local residents’ association, or other LETS scheme, or an entirely new concept. Upon joining the network, businesses will be represented in a listing on the website and app.
At a basic ‘bronze’ level, partners to the Pledge Card scheme will offer a straightforward 10% discount to all Pledge Card holders across some specified purchases. ‘Silver’ partners will offer 10% across all purchases. ‘Gold’ partners will accept pledge points in exchange for goods: they will be part of the digital local currency or exchange scheme. Pledge partners can offer special offers and discounts to Pledge Card holders at any time - which might be useful in cases of eg. over-ordering: a call can go out to all Pledge Card holders that all creme brulees must go and know that these customers will appreciate efforts to reduce waste.
Anyone who pledges money to an Our Pledge campaign is issued with a Pledge Card regardless of whether the campaign is successful, offering them the benefits above in return for their action. Pledgers who are part of a successful campaign, receive - in addition - 25 pledge points for each success, that can be spent or exchanged in return for goods and services.
Ideally, by being a part of the scheme, businesses will attract attention, loyalty and spending in return for their small discount offerings. Consumers will gain discounts, special offers and the satisfaction of knowing that they are supporting local businesses.
3. The Our Pledge Network
This is the part of the scheme that is almost squarely B2B and exists to offer businesses support and opportunities to make the changes that their customers might be demanding. It is here where businesses that are targeted by campaigns can go to seek advice, find discounted products and gain training and advice. It expands to include the following:
At the most basic level, any business who supports the Our Pledge card is automatically made a member of the network.
Beyond basic listings however, businesses can pay to be highlighted as ‘featured suppliers’, meaning that they will rise to the top for searches in their particular industry eg. compostable cup suppliers. Our Pledge staff can then direct targeted businesses to featured suppliers in their area who will be bound to offer a discount to Network members.
Our Pledge network members will also benefit from discounted events and training organised by Our Pledge regarding how to make your business both more ethical and more profitable by engaging with other local businesses and their local community.
Additional ways to engage
Once you’re engaged with the Our Pledge network, you can engage as much or as little as you like. As with all Crowd funding platforms, you can state your interests and seek out causes that you care about. If you’re a vegan, we can send you updates about vegan campaigns in your area (or anywhere) and you have the option to match other campaigner’s pledges to help them reach their threshold - and return build up your Pledge points.
Additionally, businesses can accept to use any additional funds that surpass the threshold to offer discounted (or free) products to eg. homeless people, benefits card holders or students. Making the usually more expensive ethical items accessible to all.
We will also share recommendations in our regular newsletter to showcase businesses that have made the change, so that Our Pledge members can seek out new places to eat and shop.