So we are nearly there - James (our no.1 apprentice) is just working on the final stages and I am busy working on the content... of what? Woodingdean in Business that's what.
Earlier this year I was chatting to Robert Griffiths, Director of Fundraising at The Martlets Hospice. He was talking about how hard it was to engage with businesses in and around the City (Brighton and Hove). And whilst I gave him as many suggestions as I could I knew that I hadn't really nailed 'it'. I hadn't really worked out a sustainable and relatively low maintenance way of engaging businesses and raising funds for the Martlets.
So the Summer came and went and Autumn firmly descended.
James joined Frank! in October and as part of his Business Administration course he needed to put together a database that we could use within the company. Trotting along to the shops that afternoon I was thinking about the sort of thing that it would be useful for James to do - something that would stretch him and add real value to the company. And like the preverbial bolt of lightening I had an idea. What if.. what if.. we set up a very local business website - one where all the local businesses including the shops, the cafe's the pub, the plumbers could have a listing - for free on the site - but we ask them all for a £25 contribution to The Martlets.
In return we publicise the site to the local people - through traditional posters and postcards that will be door-dropped locally and in addition we use twitter, facebook and twitter to encourage local people to visit the site. Everyone who has a listing can (if they so choose) upgrade it and have a page of their own to promote their business and to post special offers and news items. We will put together a quarterly newsletter with local business news and mail this out to our (by then hopefully) expanding user database.
We have worked with Sharon at cre8ideas to develop a design that is incredibly simple and could be ported across to any locality with very little effort, very simple, very clear - totally to our Frank! ethos (straight talking, smart ideas, real results).
Our next challenge is to start finishing the content management system, finishing the 'words' setting up a 'just giving' page so donations go directly to the Martlets and getting all the local businesses on boar - I use the words 'start finishing' because projects like this never actuall finish.
Our dream is to take this idea and really develop it, so that hospices all over the country could engage small local businesses by using this model. We are starting with Woodingdean - and if all goes well will look to Hanover, Patcham and other areas around our city - if (and it is only an if) the model works it will engage local businesses with the Martlets and help raise much needed funds - win win? I'll let you know.