This site is completely free for individuals to use, so you may be wondering how it is financed.
We made a decision very early on that World Changing Me would be neither a traditional profit making company or a charity. Rather we set up as a social enterprise (specifically as a company limited by guarantee). This means that we must make a profit, however those profits must be put back into World Changing Me to fulfill our social objectives. We chose to be a social enterprise so we could legally embed our social and environmental missions at the center of our company and because we fundamentally believe that companies can and should be profitable while not destroying the health of people or the planet. We believe that this is the future for all companies.
So how do you (intend to) make money?
In the first instance we will follow the “affiliate link” example set by Martin Lewis for MoneySavingExpert.com.
An affiliate link works in the same way as a normal link but but if someone clicks through, the link is tracked and may generate a payment to the site. The details vary - sometimes the payment's per click, per user, per sign up, percentage of purchase or any combination.
Essentially we will write quests and other guides to help you become the change you want to see in the world. Then once the words are complete we will look for ways to find affiliate links to products in the article.
There are three issues we can see with this approach. The first is that most of our articles won't be about buying stuff, so there may not be very many instances in which we can place a money making link. Even when there is an item or two that you might need to complete the quest, we'll give you links to places you might be able to borrow, rent or swap something for the items. The second is that many of the items that we include within the articles could be purchased from any number of outlets, from small family firms to large multinationals. In these instances we will give you links from a range of different places that have affiliate deals knowing that you can purchase it from wherever you wish. Thirdly currently we cannot test all the products available on the market. So in many instances we will link to a site where lots of people have reviewed the product type so that you can identify the specific product for you based on your needs and other peoples reviews. What and where you actually purchase is up to you.
Doesn't linking to large companies like Amazon compromise the site?
Yes, and er no …
Of course we'd prefer that you make, borrow or purchase things from your local company wherever you can, but we are realists and we know that it's a big step to get rid of your Amazon/someothercompany account if you already have one. We offer the choice and it's your choice. We hope that Corporations will become a force for good, and some already are the likes of LUSH for example. For Corporations to change though, we as customers need to be more particular with our purchases. Please don't feel that you are helping us because of the Amazon* affiliate link they don't really give much of a price percentage compared to smaller companies. You can always give directly to us via our online donations if you'd like to support us.
If, like us, you are trying to wean yourself off Amazon/someothercompany then just use that site for the customer reviews and purchase the item guilt free elsewhere. If you do end up buying from Amazon/someothercompany, use their customer feedback process to tell them about the things about their company that concerns, upsets or annoys you.
As with all things you should shop around for the best deal for your priorities (cost, value, ethics, environment, local, etc). We cannot compare the prices of the products against all of the independent shops in your local area to help you keep the money circulating where you live. But you can!
Sounds like you don't expect to make much money from affiliates …
To be honest, at this moment we don't know. If you are happy to buy from the affiliate links, great – it will help us pay for this site. If you want to buy from your local ethical independent shop or join a community tool-sharing site that's even better. If you are happy about the work we are doing you can always help us along by donating money to us to help us pay for our servers and time. Although as previously mentioned we are not a charity and therefore any donations would not be tax deductible.
We have other ideas for making World Changing me profitable that we will roll out over the course of the next few years. We're going to keep quiet about that for now, but rest assured it will not involve selling or passing on your data to a third party.
How will I know if it's an affiliate link?
We have adopted the standard of putting an aesterix * at the end of the link to indicate an affiliate link. So you know which links contribute to World Changing Me and which don't.
Have you received any grants or other funding?
For this website, no. We applied for a couple of grants from big Foundations, but were not successful, so stopped. It was difficult to pigeon hole ourselves into the funding criteria and that didn't seem right. Perhaps there is other funding out there, if you know of any please let us know! So we've been building the site for free while covering living costs and the external costs (servers, domain names, electricity (from Good Energy*) etc) with our savings.
We have received a small amount of grant money (£150.00) to run a taster session in Carmarthen about the website and adult learning. The money will cover the cost of venue hire, food, materials etc.