Based in Swansea, the social enterprise Phoenix Subscriptions aims to help tackle the funding problem that small charities often face by enabling students to set up a monthly donation through the site to the organisations they connect with.
Students that use the site then gain access to discounts and deals from local businesses and online.
The platform comes just at the right time when charities are facing funding cuts and trying to secure more consistent as well as sustainable sources of income and regular volunteers. Brexit also raises questions on how this will impact the third sector and the amount of available money.
Canisha Chakadya is the founder of the online platform and has made the commitment to run the new start-up during her placement year. It was during a module in her second year titled ‘Business Planning’ that the idea was explored. A simple premise on how to raise money for charity and also get something back as a student. The idea was then pitched to a panel of judges organised by Swansea University in December 2017 and was awarded seed funding to get the idea off the ground.
From then, Canisha has secured 3 partnering charities and organisations for the platform- Surfability, Matthew’s House and Discovery SVS, with the goal of having 4 at any one time in a town. This gives each charity an opportunity to stand out and be able to benefit from the most amount of donations. The promotion and marketing on Phoenix Subscriptions website and social media channels also spreads the message of these charities far and wide. The platform also signposts students to volunteering opportunities in these organisations. After completing a certain amount of hours and logging this on the site, users are also entered into a prize draw. Through this, students can become more connected with the local community. There are also no fees charged to the charities and Phoenix Subscriptions does not take a cut from the donations. The only deduction is to cover processing fees.
One charity that is part of the platform is The Hill Church with a focus on their initiative Matthew’s House. The initiative provides hospitality and hope for the most vulnerable in Swansea. Already Matthew’s House runs ‘Matt’s Café’ that provides fresh cooked meals on a pay-as-you feel basis and has aims to open other facilities in the building in the near future.
Thom Lynch, Project Manager for Matthew’s House said-
“We love people believing in us. It is another blessing to have Phoenix Subscriptions get involved too. The financial sustainability is key and core to what we do, especially to be available for the most vulnerable people in our city. As we start to grow the shower and laundry project, our outgoings will increase, therefore, increasing our believers like having Phoenix Subscriptions on board will help us continue to grow”
It is not just the local charities that stand to benefit from the online platform as local businesses that provide discounts and deals can hope to see an increase in their sales and connect with more students. Canisha has made quick work to score some great discounts for students and hopes to continue to grow this over the coming months. There will also be deals from online retailers but a greater focus will remain on the smaller ones.
The venture has received support from the university in the form of access to desk space at the Student Incubation Hub on Singleton Campus and support from the enterprise team. Most recently, some money from the Santander University Seed funding was granted to Phoenix Subscriptions to help with marketing costs and promotion. Canisha also attended the Big Ideas Wales Bootcamp in November 2018, joining a cohort of 40+ other aspiring entrepreneurs.
The message is clear, Phoenix Subscriptions is a platform that champions small charities and small businesses. It also empowers students to make an impact and be part of change movements from as little as £5 but knowing the collective impact this has. Canisha hopes to roll the platform out to other university towns and spread the power of giving.
The new website and platform will be live from 22nd January 2019.