Interview: How Kay Addman Raised £5,500 From Complete Strangers Through Crowdfunding!
Kay Addman is the founder of a wonderful organisation called ‘Our Sisters Network’. In our ongoing interview series we’ll find out how she managed to raise £5,500 from complete strangers through crowdfunding!
Choose from video, podcast, transcript below.
DamiLola: Kay Addman is the founder of a wonderful organisation called ‘Our Sisters Network’. I’m here to find out how she used the power of crowdfunding to make this a reality by raising close to £5,500 mostly from complete strangers.
What is Our Sisters Network?
Kay: Our Sisters Network is a social enterprise and learning community, where continuous learning is embedded, within 3 hubs which are Professional Development, Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. We offer workshops and webinars, and coaching for anyone looking to learn new things and take their lives forward. We cover different areas, for different types of women including the woman that works a 9-5. The base of it all is personal development as I believe we should always be developing as a person. This covers health, mental health and more. So with OSN always feel supported, and have women that understand you, get you, and you always have that personal connection.
DamiLola: What was the inspiration behind it?
Kay: When I first moved to UK from New York I had no friends or family, so joined ‘Meetup’ attended different networking events but I realised that I would go and get lots of information and inspiration and you’re really fired up, but I didn’t have anyone to speak to when I left those events. There was no space for continuation, so you back into yourself and feel alone, not feel supported and not know what to do next, or pay ridiculous amounts of money to acess the person that gave the information. So the seed was planted for OSN.
I love Black women and I wanted to inspire Black women, but I also want them to always be learning something new and applying this knowledge and growing.
I started talking to women to find out their issues and what was holding them back, and they said a lack of information, not feeling comfortable in certain circles, not feeling represented. I launched the first ‘Sister Talk’ session in London which was an intimate conversation with women and it was amazing!
DamiLola: When was this first launched?
Kay: That happened in 2017 so it was a while ago, and it has been 8 years in the making altogether. In between marriage, having kids and working, but the first event was 2017.
I also took some time to learn things and focus on my own personal development. But 2020 is go time.
DamiLola: So that it’s absolutely clear, who is ‘Our Sisters Network’ for?
Kay: OSN was built to help Black women, but it’s inclusive for all women, but the heart of it is for Black women advancement and having our space. We need our space to say, this is what we do, this is the people that I connect with, I understand your struggle girl, I understand those microaggressions in the workplace. But anyone can join as long as you completely respect and understand this, anyone is welcome to join and help fight against the struggle.
Black women have a whole different set of issues. People say it’s really hard for women, which is such a sad statement to make even in 2020, but I do feel we have come leaps and bounds. However Black women have an extra layer because we are not only women, but we are Black. This comes with extra issues that we have to combat in the workplace, as entrepreneurs, trying to get a bank loan, finding resources, all this comes with extra barriers for us. We have to work and fight 3 times as hard as others. We have a glass ceiling sometimes. There are expectations in the workplace at times, to advance only to a certain level or point, then we have to come down to make others feel at ease. We need to empower each other to get past these issues and get to the next level. It’s important to show each other that there are women who have gone to the next level. Representation is a huge thing for me, sometimes people don’t know if they don’t see, they don’t believe it, they don’t know it can also happen for them.
DamiLola: What do you say to people who feel that having something somewhat exclusive is a bad/negative thing? Or those who say its ‘reverse racism’?
Kay: It depends on who the comment came from. If it’s someone outside of ‘the oppressed’ for example, my first comment would be that it can’t be reverse racism. I don’t believe I can be a racist because I’m Black. I have experienced people in my inbox say “ why are you doing this?” “why is it only Black women”, and some of this was actually from Black women.. I do find a lot of women in the UK cringe compared to in the USA. Like they don’t want to be put in the spotlight.They are afraid it may be offensive. But I wear it on my sleeve, I am Black, I am a Black woman and do not apologise for being Black or for supporting Black women. There are so many resources out there that do not cater to us so I will not apologise for creating something that does cater to us.
DamiLola: In America there seems to be a higher level of Pride when something is catered specifically to the Black community, or Black women. They are proud to have their own organisations and spaces. The attitudes in the UK are a little bit behind. Why do
Kay: I understand why that is, because culturally in the UK we are a lot more diverse here, than in the states and it’s a beautiful thing. In America there is still blatant racism and segregation. So here, some feel that it’s not necessary to have our own things. But people need to understand that here in the UK the racism etc is very micro. Always hidden and covert. But nowadays you have people hired in the workplace to champion ‘diversity and inclusion’. It’s in fashion now. But usually when they talk about a diverse workforce they usually mean the Black janitor or admin or receptionist. You go higher up and it just gets more and more ‘washed’. Blak women are doing amazing things and are the biggest market in terms of entrepreneurship so this conversation needs to be had.
DamiLola: How and where did you first hear about Crowdfunding?
Kay: I knew about Crowdfunding for a few years now. Friends had done it before.
DamiLola: What made you decide to use Crowdfunding as your platform to raise money for your organisation?
Kay: I would complain a lot about not being able to get certain things off the ground, because of not having enough money. One day I realised I had to try this option, there is a solution for everything, worst case scenario it doesn’t work. You don’t need a bank loan. I had the fire in my gut, and I need to get this off the ground. A lot of people’s problems is funding, so I decided to use crowdfunding.
DamiLola: From deciding to use a crowdfunding platform to having your campaign go live, how long was that whole process?
Kay: That wasn’t very long, 24-48 hours. From the point I started to the point I submitted the campaign on the website was 2 days.
DamiLola: That’s amazing, that’s the fastest I’ve ever heard!
DamiLola: What was the first thing you did?
Kay: Once I decided which website/platform to use. It’s important to do your research. Some platforms are able to take you out of that huge scope and put you in a smaller bowl. You go on some and you might get lost in the trail. Then I went on and read their rules, then the hard part is obviously the write-up. This is like your ‘Pitch’. I had some content on my own website and my own library. It’s important to get this right but don’t think about this too much. Filling out the form wasn’t bad. Write what you’re doing, make sure your mission sounds right, make sure you get your point across about exactly what you’re doing. A lot of people get caught up with trying to differentiate themselves from everyone else so they get stuck and don’t continue. You have to be passionate and believe that what you’re doing is going to work. You’ll never reinvent the wheel, but the USP is that it’s you and your idea and whatever you bring to the table it’s going to add to the bigger picture. Go for it, don’t think about it too much, but make it sound interesting.
DamiLola: What advice would you give to anyone considering using crowdfunding as a fundraising tool but are still unsure if they can really do it?
Kay: Go for it, just do it. Spell check. Have someone read your pitch over. Be honest and bring your true self to the project, bring your personal story as people always connect with a personal story and this is your USP. Just don’t over-think and don’t do comparisons with others. Write exactly what it is you’re doing. Don’t be too wordy or confusing, make everyone get your mission clearly.
DamiLola: Your video was simple but effective. Most campaigns that have a video attached to it, do so much better than those that just have a write-up or pitch. Because people can see there is a real person behind the campaign and you communicate directly with your supporters.
Kay: I used the video of our first event because it wasn’t about the quality of the video, it was about the quality of what is being said in the video. It was a grainy video from 2017 having a chat with a bunch of women but what was being said resonated with a lot of people. In this society people don’t read much anymore, but video is still powerful.
DamiLola: You were able to raise £5,500 from strangers which is amazing and not an easy thing to do! It shows the power of crowdfunding.
Kay: I think it shows the power of word of mouth too! Friends and family will donate but only so much. I had complete strangers giving hundreds of pounds. Friends shared it with people at their workplace and several of their colleagues gave like 100 dollars. People will give. It’s hard to ask but you have to go for it. You don’t ask, you don’t receive!
DamiLola: Friends and family will be your initial supporters, as they should be, but after that what exactly did you do to market and share your campaign?
Kay: I was coached through the process and was taught not to go live with my campaign to social media or anyone, until I initially go to friends and family to get initial funding. Because then when I go live with complete strangers, it looks less like a scam. As there are actual people who have left comments and donated money which I thought was a great idea. Once I got my first £1,000 I then went to the wider masses. I used Instagram but mostly Facebook as it’s more personal. I posted in FB groups, I have a ‘Meetup’ group with 150 women, but most of it was word of mouth. I also used Whatsapp groups but was methodical about it because I don’t like to be overbearing. If you’re going to contact people on whatsapp, make it personal, not just a general group message to everyone or else 9/10 they’ll ignore it. Make sure people know when your campaign begins and ends. Keep people riled up and updated with your journey.
DamiLola: Why is a platform like BuildHer necessary?
Kay: The thing that I love is that it supports women especially Black women. It’s not so overbearing on BackHers and BuildHers. It seems like it’s a community within itself. It’s important because having more options allows people to be empowered and get on with it. Another key is you have no more than six (6) campaigns at a time which is amazing.
DamiLola: Because on larger platforms, you go on there and there are hundreds of campaigns, it’s death by too many choices. You don’t know who or what to support, unless you’re specifically directed to a particular campaign and I didnt want our women to get lost in the sea.
DamiLola: Where can people go to find out about you and your network?
Kay: You can head to our website www.oursistersnetwork.com . The best way to keep in touch is through the newsletter. It’s free to register. We are also on social media.
Join the network today: www.oursistersnetwork.com
Facebook: Our Sisters Network