Are you considering funding GoSafer.Online? One of the things you probably need to know is how much belief we have in what we’re doing. We’ve demonstrated a measure of confidence by covering all the expenses to take the company to where it is right now. The benefit of this is that we’ve got through the period where big decisions still have to be made, and where there’s little to show for any investment. Although we intend to work with the community rather than simply adding another E-Safety web site to the dozens that already exists, we had to re-engineer everything once Covid-19 arrived, and we’ve been able to follow a clear vision to get to where we are today.
We believe that businesses should spend money carefully, and in the case of non-profits it’s even more important. Businesses are responsible to their shareholders, who make take a relaxed view of what was spent to make a profit, as long as their investment is growing or returning a good divident.
We don’t have shareholders, but we do have a comparable responsibility: to those who fund our activities. There’s a clear understanding that what we receive will be used effectively for the purpose that we stated when we invited contributions.
We take that responsibility seriously, and we’ve put systems in place that allow us to account for what we’ve spent and what the purpose was.
That doesn’t mean being “penny wise and pound foolish”. Take the example of web site: for most startup non-profits , a site-builder service like Wix is a good choice. Since we have professional IT experience, the speed and ease of use is less of an advantage: we already have a tools that speeds up development: building a site from the ground up gives us the flexibility to make any change we want, without being limited by the capabilities of the site builder service.
A custom-built site has to be hosted, and for that here really isn’t an alternative to cloud hosting these days. The main choice is between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. AWS is generally reckoned to be cheaper. On the other hand, Microsoft Azure is easy to use, especially for professionals who work in the Microsoft eco-system. Labour is a big cost, so we chose Azure.
Having incurred that extra cost, we’ve still economised. For example, our current plan is to have two web sites, one for emergency advice and one for background information. These were originally hosted on two Azure “web apps”. We wanted to reduce the cost and maintenance burden, so we re-coded it and both web sites now live on one web app, reducing cloud charges by almost half. We continue to look for ways of speeding up what we do and reducing our expenses.
We have two aims: to help people get started on protecting themselves and then keep going. A course may last for a day or more and the enthusiasm for putting ideas into action tends to drain away in the weeks afterward. We want to reach out regularly for short periods of time. How can we do this? We've got the website, but that won't bring people back. If we can reach community workers they'll be able to deliver the message on a regular basis. Instagram and WhatsApp are better from that point of view. We're going to explore the Q + A feature of Instagram.
Charging the end user for our services did not seem like a good model. Working with schools for example, we'd probably find a very small group of enthusiastic customers who for some reason were able take up the offer, but no impact on others permanently bogged down in financial or contractual issues. A big part of the value comes from the website, and it's difficult to charge for that without creating memberships and log-ins, which (apart from the GDPR issues), is against the spirit of what we want to do, which is make information available to as many as possible.
Our experience seems to back up this insight: our relationship with beneficiaries is much simpler if we finance it elsewhere. Of course, if something costs nothing, the person receiving it may put exactly the same value on it, so we need to move on if there's no commitment.
You're most welcome to contact us for more information.