Sunday Assembly

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Sunday Assembly: Live Better.Help Often.Wonder More.

London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Sunday Assembly is a joyful congregation that celebrates life. We empower people to create radically inclusive communities which help everyone.Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfil their full potential. Our vision: a joyful congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could adapt the best bits of organised religion to create radically inclusive, resilient communities in a secular age
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Weak communities and social isolation are amongst the greatest challenges facing Britain and the world today. England is more segregated than at any time since the 1960s with 1 in 10 people having no close friends. Isolation has been linked to depression, anxiety, declining mobility, high blood pressure with an impact on mortality that is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Weak communities and social isolation have come about as a result of the decline in relevance of the institutions which used to underpin strong communities, most namely the church. The Sunday Assembly adapts the community building institution of church, and repurposes it for the 21st century. We hold regular services with wonderful songs, amazing speakers and tea and cake accompanied by a range of voluntary groups. Our model allows anyone to start an Assembly in their town, providing them with a website, format, branding and marketing support and setting up small groups, activities and volunteering opportunities to help the disadvantaged. There are now 63 assemblies in 10 countries worldwide with 4500 regular participants.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Steve Beck, who attended a service in London: “I've been with my wife over 9 years now but we've been having a bit of a rough time lately. The message behind the assembly on Sunday struck a significant cord with both of us. The last few days have been amazing. We're actually working together now to help make each other happy and we've realised how much we were taking each other for granted." Antonia Turner had this feedback: “The Resolve group was a timely and great thing for me. This was a bunch of supportive, open-hearted listeners, cheerleaders and challengers. The process of checking in each week and sharing our victories and vulnerabilities was such a lovely outlet for connection and (dare I say) communion with others."

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In August 2014 we conducted a 350 person survey of our network consisting of people who had attended Sunday Assembly but also from Sunday Assembly supporters who did not live in towns with a Sunday Assembly. 87% of regular attendees (5 or more events) said Sunday Assembly made them happier. 88% of regular attendees said Sunday Assembly has made them more part of a community. On average our regular attendees made 3.5 new friends through their involvement with Sunday Assembly. On average each of our 63 assemblies contributed 308 hours of volunteering hours to their community in the first 10 months of 2014 with 75 different charities. We are also developing partnership with housing associations to turn Sunday Assembly into a community cohesion tool in deprived communities across the UK.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our target is the 1.1. billion people around the world who have no religion. Our lightning growth over the past 18 months suggests that there is huge demand for community building institutions in a secular age. Our projections are that there will be 400 assemblies worldwide by 2019 with 80% of these in US and western Europe. We are investing in support staff, an improved digital platform and a marketing to maintain momentum and make the process of starting an assembly quicker. We continue to refine the model through our flagship assembly in London.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have three core revenue streams: 1. SA Service Delivery - payment from public bodies to improve wellbeing/mental heath/loneliness by creating resilient and inclusive communities 2. SA ‘Network’ - Membership and ‘subscription’ fee to be charged for services provided to local chapters 3.SA 'Brand' - Festivals, corporate events, global tour, merchandise and book publishing built around power of SA brand identity.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We are the global leaders in adapting the best bits of traditional religion to develop inclusive communities in an increasingly secular age. Our approach synthesises solutions from churches such as Hillsong, humanist and atheist movements such as Skeptics in the Pub, educational organisations such as TED talks and wellbeing movements such as Morning GloryVille and 5Rhythms to provide a holistic experience which offers an answer to the human search for meaning, purpose and community.

Founding Story

I started the Sunday Assembly to answer a personal desire for community, personal growth and a place to celebrate the incredible gift of life. The congregational community model seemed to meet all of those needs. I saw that if it worked in London it could work all over the world and pushed to scale as quickly as possible. My own background makes me uniquely suited to lead this movement. Having worked in sales at the Economist, worked as a professional stand up comedian, and with a life long interest in digital start ups made me unique suited to this movement. My sales skills allowed me to connect with organisers, my stand up to communicate with the congregation and my start up background to concentrate on scale."


Sanderson Jones - co-founder/CEO (full time) - stand up comedian, Economist digital innovation team Jack Reynolds - COO (full time) - trained on Government Faststream, co-founder and former COO of Football Beyond Borders Ben Matthews - Digital lead (part time) - Director of Montfort digital comms agency We are recruiting for CMO and CTO. Board of Trustees include Ben Southworth, former deputy CEO of Tech City and Julie Simon, Young Foundation
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Organization Country

, London

Country where this project is creating social impact

, London

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, Businesses, Customers.

Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

NESTA 50 New Radicals who are changing Britain for the better in 2014

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Changemaker CEO

Tell us about your partnerships:

Delivery partnerships with Housing Association Charitable Trust to create a Sunday Assembly product for service delivery of social services. Pilot in development with Poplar HARCA.
Rider Publishing and Ebury (subsidiaries of Random House) publishing a Sunday Assembly book.
Wilderness Festival - event partners with whom we are developing a Sunday Assembly location for their festival.

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Over reliance on CEO - This has been mitigated through the appointment of an experienced COO to work alongside Sanderson, the recruitment of an experienced team to the management board and board of trustees.
Rapid spread of assemblies dilutes the brand’s value – We have grown quickly and now has 63 assemblies in 10 countries. We are introducing an accreditation process to ensure all assemblies are of the quality we require.
Unable to get sufficient revenue to support mission - We are creating a trading subsidiary which will deliver events and products which draw on SA brand.