Meet The DoNation, a social enterprise with action at its heart

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November 15, 2014 by Tess Riley

When Hermione Taylor decided to cycle from London to Morocco in 2009 with her friend Sara, their aim was simple: to raise sponsorship for a cause they felt passionate about – the environment.

They realised, though, that they didn’t like the idea of asking their friends for money as, in their own words, “the environment needed people’s action more than it needed their money”.

The result? They decided to ask their friends to sponsor them by doing simple green actions instead.

The ride raised ‘sponsorship’ from 216 people and saved over 16 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 84 flights from London to Morocco. With that (and a fair bit of elbow grease!), The DoNation was born.

The whole point of The DoNation is to enable people – and now businesses too – to form healthy and environmentally-friendly habits that, in turn, inspire others to do the same. In a world grappling to cope with climate change, biodiversity loss and heavily polluted drinking sources to name a few, individual action at both a personal and business level is a key part of the very complex jigsaw.

With just two days to go until their crowdfunding campaign closes, I caught up with The DoNation’s Harriet Rockliff to find out more:

I describe The DoNation to my best friend as…

a great way to get people thinking about sustainable living – especially those who wouldn’t necessarily think about it normally.

I describe The DoNation to my granny as…

the same as above! My granny is pretty down with these things, but sometimes I frame it as a way of preserving resources as that resonates more with her.

We’ve now also set up Do Good for Business which… 

helps companies to engage their employees in simple actions. Teams of employees compete against one another to make the most pledges and save the most carbon by doing things like cycling to work, eating less meat or using video conferencing instead of flying.

The DoNation and Do Good for Business teams now consists of… 

five people. For a while it was just Hermione (our lovely founder) and me, but then we hired Martin (CTO) & Jesy to help us build Do Good for Business, and Richard to help us win more clients! We’re also expanding the team – we’re currently looking for a Marketing and Communications Manager and a Junior Developer. Drop me a line at harriet@thedonation.org.uk if you’re interested!

Our greatest achievement to date has been…

In a couple of days, hopefully I’ll be saying ‘raising £150,000 through crowdfunding’! Right now I’d say getting onto the Wayra UnLtd accelerator programme, which really helped us realise our business model, find Martin and launch Do Good for Business.

When the internet goes down in the office, we usually… 

re-locate to the nearest cafe! We like this as that means we get a steaming cup of coffee and a croissant as well!

Three other social enterprises we love out there are…

Good Gym – Bringing fitness, socialising and volunteering together. Hermione and I are both regulars (or at least we were until crowdfunding took over our lives!) and love it. Highly recommend it!

Do the Green Thing – They design amazing and hilarious posters around sustainability. We use a lot of them to promote our DoActions and they are simply brilliant!

Streetbank – We love these guys and everything they stand for – and there have been some interesting outcomes from meeting our neighbours through Streetbank!

If we had to pass on one piece of advice to an aspiring social entrepreneur it would be… 

… that’s a tricky one. I’d say don’t just aspire ‘to be a social entrepreneur’ as that alone probably won’t drive you. Some the most inspiring social entrepreneurs I’ve met are those who are intensely passionate about the social issue they are helping to solve, be it sustainability, homelessness or mental health. The key thing is to find something that really fires you up and use that energy to drive you to making it a success.

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