Social media fundraising platform Lightful secures £4m in funding from high-profile investors to transform global charity sector

  • Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti among prominent Series A backers
  • £4m funding represents largest sum for an early-stage start-up in the social impact spac
  • Lightful signs up 1,800 charities, individuals and beyond profits to mobilise great causes on social media, including partnerships with Comic Relief and London’s Air Ambulance
  • Money raised will be used to develop voice recognition, ‘bots’ and machine learning projects for £1.5+ trillion global social impact sector
  • Lightful spearheads movement to “reclaim social media for social good” amid recent claims that social media platforms like Facebook are “destroying society”

Lightful, a social media and campaign management platform for charities and social enterprises, has raised an unprecedented £4m in its Series A funding round. The start-up, which counts Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti among its high-profile backers, has already attracted more than 1,800 sign-ups from charities, individuals, and ‘beyond profit’ organisations – those placing purpose alongside profits – all of whom are looking to use social media for social good.

Lightful’s milestone funding represents the largest sum for an early-stage start-up in the social impact space – proof of growing interest in impact investing, as also demonstrated by the late-stage £95m acquisition of JustGiving by Blackbaud. Lightful’s high-profile investors span the world of sport, the arts, business and technology, including renowned entrepreneurs and Lightful board members Jeffrey Thomas and Annika Small, who was awarded an OBE in the new year’s honours list for services to ‘social innovation and digital technology’. Between them, they are backing Lightful’s goal to reimagine social media for a sector valued at an estimated £1.5+ trillion globally.

By integrating with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Lightful has created a single, unified platform that enables charities and social enterprises to effectively manage their social media content, supporter relationships and campaigns from a single intuitive dashboard – with tools ranging from a sophisticated story-builder, to an in-platform chat, and in-depth analytics tools. Available via desktop, with an app for iOS and Android, Lightful already has 1,800 sign-ups to its service, supporting the increased impact of multiple grassroots charity users such as Woman’s Trust and Migrant Family Action. These organisations are using the platform to strengthen relationships with supporters at scale, amplify high-impact stories, and raise support and funds for their cause.

Lightful Founders: Johnny Murnane, Carlos Miranda, Vinay Nair

Alongside its core platform, Lightful is also investing in a full-service digital consultancy called Lightful Services, to address the lack of innovation in the sector and build bespoke technology solutions (e.g. community portals, donation pages for digital fundraising campaigns) for clients including London’s Air Ambulance, The Big Give and School for Social Entrepreneurs. With stringent regulations facing charities – from GDPR to the new Fundraising Regulator – the services are designed to help charities adapt and thrive in the digital age, at a time when they are under more scrutiny and yet have greater than ever demands on their services.

The Series A funding will also help power Lightful’s R&D division, Lightful Labs, which is trialling experiential technology including artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots and voice recognition, for a sector that would otherwise risk falling further behind on the innovation scale. Later this month, Lightful will be engaging in a charity tech hackathon with its partners at Comic Relief.

Vinay Nair, CEO and co-founder of Lightful, said: “Charities and social enterprises have some of the best stories to tell, and we are excited that Lightful can help grow the potential of using social media for social good – we certainly need that to happen now more than ever. That’s why we’re also spearheading a widespread movement to #ReclaimSocial, so that countless examples of positive and high-impact stories can be amplified. With claims that social media is destroying society and acting as a purveyor of hate speech, there’s clearly a significant opportunity to bring about change – and we believe the social impact space has a vital role to play. With the fantastic support from our incredible investors, we’re excited to try to make 2018 the year we can finally reclaim social media – for good.”

Nick Masonone of Lightful’s investors, said: “Many charities have been hampered by time-consuming tasks and budget constraints, which inhibit progress. The Lightful concept is easing some of these fundamental issues and this is exemplified by the sheer number of organisations signing up to the platform. I’m excited to see what the next few months have in store.”

Dario Franchitti, another investor, added: “Media is changing rapidly, it’s vital that charities learn to connect with their audiences in a way which is simple, yet effective. Lightful’s platform caters to this perfectly, offering a really innovative tech solution that could reinvent the dialogue between great causes and the everyday people who support them.”