StoryLink - Technology tool for charities

StoryLink - Technology tool for charities: Directly funded products for children in need are delivered to their homes.

Ljubljana, SloveniaSlovenia
Year Founded:
2015
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Donors worldwide can directly fund products (e.g. fresh groceries) for low-income families which retailers deliver to their homes.

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

What if we could make thousands of kids in need healthier and happier by making sure they get exactly what they need - from fresh healthy meals to school supplies and other life necessities - delivered to their home?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Due to high costs of nutritious food one in five children in Europe doesn’t have the access to it. They lack basic necessities e.g. school or hygiene supplies. Charities mostly provide them with canned food and depend on donors to donate used products. Donors lack time to deliver the products and lack knowledge what children exactly need. At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.

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

StoryLink enables charities to submit low-income families who can anonymously share their stories and specific needs with donors worldwide. Directly funded fresh groceries and products are then delivered to children’s homes by retailers. We are collaborating with an influential charity partner in Slovenia and two charity partners in Croatia. StoryLink offers donors a simple and direct way to donate which is radically transparent since all our fund transfers are publicly shared. Also, donors get updates about families that received their help. Retailers gain the possibility to manage their supply chain effectively and use goods which may not satisfy appearance standards. We use retailers’ existing distribution channels.
Impact: How does it Work

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

A young family, Novaks, struggles to provide enough food and basic necessities for their children and seeks help from our charity partner where they submit them to StoryLink platform. We enable Novaks to share their story and tell exactly what products they need (e.g. groceries, diapers, school bag, winter jacket etc.). Donors worldwide directly fund those products and StoryLink orders the products from retailers. Retailers deliver the products to Novaks home address and donors get an update about what has changed for the Novaks since they’ve received help. All fund transfers are publicly shared so donors can be sure about how we spent their donations. Novak parents can also share their skills so potential employers could find them.

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

We have partnered with the leading charity organisation in Slovenia which has already started submitting low-income families to StoryLink platform, launching on 7th of December. We have personally visited 30 families to gain insight into their situation and needs in order to optimise our platform. They see StoryLink as a great solution providing help in acute situations. The expansion to Croatia is already in progress as three local charities expressed great interest for collaboration. In the next six months we aim to partner with at least 4 more charities in Croatia and countries from CEE region and expect to fund at least 350 families; 130 from Slovenia, 100 from Croatia and 120 from two CEE countries. Online giving is growing fast (8,9% in 2014 compared to 2013) and 57,4% of participants in our survey would donate more if they knew exactly how donations are spent, which we provide.

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

In order to achieve full potential we have made a 5 years projection plan. To not only provide help in acute situation, but a long-term solution, we will enable parents of low-income families to share their skills along with their story and therefore connect them with potential local employers. As underprivileged children often struggle with learning disabilities we will connect them to local tutors. We aim to include elderly in need as well. We plan to achieve this by expanding our operations. First, we want to cover the CEE region and then expand from Europe to Asian countries.
Sustainability

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

100% of every donation directly funds the products for the person in need. StoryLink covers its expenses separately by corporate donors, philanthropists, and donors who leave an optional tip during checkout. Tips are completely voluntary. We’ve received positive feedback from corporates and some of them already donated. Two international companies contacted us on their initiative to offer support and we strongly believe others will follow.

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

Instead of competing with, Storylink wants to empower charities and enable them to provide low-income families exactly what they need without additional stigma because products are delivered to their homes. StoryLink is customer driven and strives to involve all parties - charities, people in need, donors, retailers - in its decision making process. Crowdfunding platforms are a big player in the market, however they lack strict evaluation criteria for socio-economic background of members fundraising. StoryLink offers radical transparency so donors know exactly how their money was spent.
Team

Founding Story

In 2013 Nasti read a story about a boy whose family couldn’t afford basic necessities and who was bullied everyday and tried to commit a suicide. Since then she has been donating products to charities helping children from low-income families but she always wondered what is it that each child really needs. Also, she could only donate canned food which is not nutritious enough. She thought it would be awesome if you could order fresh groceries or other basic necessities online and retailers would deliver products to children’s home just like when you shop online for yourself. She assembled a team to build out a charity platform where people could directly fund products for children in need.

Team

Founder Nasti Šušnjara who is responsible for StoryLink operations, mainly product development and strategy, has a psychology background. Her experiences include internship at Oxford University and building an MVP for a startup while in the global accelerator program. Jan Mrhar is a lead developer who manages back-end and front-end development of the platform. Ivana Maček works on business and strategy because of her experiences in new products development and sustainable investing and financing. Adela Ficko is our legal advisor, who received an award from United Nations for her graduation diploma. There are additional 12 volunteers in our team who are covering design, public relations, marketing and community support.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

LinkedIn post

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Founder Nasti Šušnjara is leading the product development and strategy for StoryLink, and has experience in product management, having worked for a startup in a global acceleration program. She started her first initiative in a second grade of primary school when she fought for her gifted classmate who couldn’t get any extra lessons in school to unlock his full potential and his parents couldn’t afford to pay for a tutor. Team member and developer Jan Mrhar has worked as a software developer for several successful Slovenian companies. Ivana Maček, who is responsible for partnerships in Croatia, has worked on developing a student learning platform as part of New Product Development project in Singapore (NUS) and is also in charge of sustainable investing and financing for a healthcare startup in Switzerland. She holds a UN Academy certificate. Our team member and legal advisor Adela Ficko has been awarded by United Nations for her graduate diploma.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Our current partners are Impact Hub Zagreb and ABC Accelerator. We also have a mentor Dragan Stjepanović who has expertise in business development and sales gained while working for Apple and Oracle among many other companies. He prefers to call himself “a value proposition hustler”.

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