Streetbank News

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But how does Streetbank make money?!

One of the first things people ask about Streetbank is “how do you make money?” It’s an excellent question

There are two answers depending on the spirit behind the question.

1. Getting rich?

Some people mean “how are you going to get rich?” and the answer is simple - we’re not. We’re a grassroots movement that encourages people to be generous. We’ve always felt it would be wrong to make a profit from people’s generosity and we’ve been working very hard to become a charity (something we hope to be able to announce in January!) At the moment, we’re a Community Interest Company which you can read about here.

2. Getting sustainable? Yes… exactly.

Other people mean “how are you going to make Streetbank sustainable?” and that is very good question - one that we have grappled with ever since Streetbank started.

Like any website, Streetbank has running costs. We’ve always hoped that we could cover these costs through voluntary donations. Wouldn’t it be great if Streetbank, a movement to encourage generosity, could be powered by all of us giving a little to sustain it?

Some people think that vision is mad. “People don’t pay for internet services” we’ve been told. And yet we have been encouraged and heartened by the fact that, every month, over 100 people have so far chosen to give a total of £1,000 entirely voluntarily. For that, we want to say a big thank YOU!

Making up the shortfall

Running a website of Streetbank’s complexity and scale is expensive. Just to keep Streetbank going we need close to £4,000 per month, which is unfortunately almost £3000 more than we’re currently receiving in donations.

We are hugely grateful to you for your donations, don’t think we’re not and please do keep giving so generously! However, we need to find a way to make up the shortfall.

We think the best way is to allow people to pay for classifieds. There is a neat logic to this. Streetbank is a site that allows you to offer things and skills to your neighbours for free. However, if you want to charge for them, you have to pay to post.

What do you think? How you would feel about Streetbank if there were a small number of paid for posts. We’d really value your thoughts!


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on October 2 2016 Conrad Wilson said:

Go for all types of funding including classified. It’s not fair when some users on this site say classified ads is not the way to go when you have to find £4K per month for them to use you for free! Nuts

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on January 24 2015 greg stanton said:

if people in a community share things, then the community is richer, because they dont have to buy them. if we shared every thing we would not have to buy anything.

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on January 16 2015 Angela Valentine said:

As an example that people do not really want to help for nothing is the recent ad I placed on Streetbank for an ACER laptop engineer…I had 3-4 messages almost immediately. I contacted one of them who asked me to drop it into his workshop. I went along with the laptop to the workshop and got a general diagnostic but then found out he would charge for the service. He was helpful of course, perhaps as I might be a potential customer and told me what he thought the problem might be…but of course there would be no way of knowing unless the repair work actually started and I would have to pay. I said I would consider it and after I mentioned, to the other three who had replied to me, what the problem might be with my laptop and asked for their help, I have heard nothing more, but its early days yet ! I dont think sharing of skills really works in its true sense……it all revolves around making money in some way or another! fortunately for me I had purchased a new laptop late last year which I am now using so I will keep my repair pending for now!

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on January 15 2015 Eoghan Parle said:

Sorry guys but I think this is a terrible idea.

It goes against everything the site stands for and will erode the ethos of the community.

It is a difficult challenge to try to do something in this world that breaks free and remains free form the global economy but it is worth doing because of that.

Instead of trying to come up with a way to earn money to pay for services that keep the site up and running I think it would be a much better idea (if more difficult) to try and find a way to get the services required without having to pay for them.

It might mean finding a hosting service that will host because they are nice (and would like to be able to say they do it, which is good for their business)

You may need web developers / designers who will work on the site because they like what you stand for and / or need the experience.

Whatever the costs are there must be at least some ways to reduce those costs in ways like these.

Keep up the good work!

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on January 5 2015 Renuka Reins said:

Good idea re 1) Crwodfunding Funding
2). Ads in an ad section. -much better than Gumtree. Target £500pcm?
3)Pot Luck £300 to £500pcm? {icking up on the baked potato idea.
Monthly different places could host an evening. People attending donate a couple of quid or more to the operation. Not sure what the numbers are for people using Streetbank. I only just came across it . 3. As pot luck dinner locations may be limited how about having a regular monthly set up with a cafe/pub where people can pop in meet others and donate something £500-750 . Local cafe sponsor event as it raises profile locally. and SB could collect something substantial in sponsorship. say a £1k a month. 5) Grants 6) link up with local church they may give a hand or a grant. There are some local parish grants. Good luck Flowers

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on December 7 2014 Adrian Lobo said:

Thanks for responding. I realised recently that part of the impetus for charging for classifieds may be their recent increase on Streetbank – as the site doesn’t currently prohibit charging for goods/loans or advertising paid services.

Putting essential OpEx funding aside there’s no reason why Streetbank should allow classifieds; it directly contradicts its stated sharing ethos. So the starting position should be a ban on classifieds. And certainly a ban on mixing classifieds with the rest of the freecycling and free sharing.

Then, if due to exhaustion of better OpEx funding methods, there is a worthwhile market for paid classifieds then please:
(a) First consult the Streetbank community broadly as to their views
(b) Consider the value and interaction implications. E.g. Equity impacts to money-based exchange/interaction driving out free/donation-based
© Separate it clearly from the free listings
(d) Consider carefully if the types of classifieds are consistent with the values of the members attracted to the Streetbank site

Finally I realise not everyone comes to Streetbank with the same philosophy or neighbourhood aspirations. But there are much more popular websites that already meet the money-based or purely utilitarian exchanges (Gumtree, Freecycle, etc.). I personally would like Streetbank to proactively establish a niche around non-monetary sharing as means of building better neighbourhoods. This would mean enlightening some new users as to this purpose and protecting it with community rules. Not accommodating contradictory norms.

A great video of a real life neighbourhood example of this clash is worth looking at here:

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on December 2 2014 Nicole D said:

Like other posters, my main motivation for using Streetbank is precisely because there is no financial aspect to our neighbourly interactions: we borrow from each other, we give away items and all these small interactions are helping to build a community, one ‘share’ at a time. I understand there are sustainability issues, but I too worry that introducing a ‘fee’ element will completely change the nature & ethos of Streetbank…the last thing I’d want to see is advertising being introduced! I wonder if, with help from the community, your running costs could be in some way reduced?

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on December 2 2014 bo sanchez said:

could you show a breakdown of the cost that you have that add up to £4000 per month as freecycle do. If the community knew what the cost were perhaps they could help.
if it is wages – then as another post suggests then people could vulunteer to help – or if there is a lot of manual intervevtion that takes a lot of time then offer help to improve the automation of the site

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on December 1 2014 Tristan Mules said:

Why does it cost you 4000 a month?? That’s a lot of cash to run a website. If it’s for wages then consider split the roles and making them volunteers positions.

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on November 26 2014 Sam Nic, Tess, Alice & Rachel said:

Thanks Adrian – that’s interesting that’s a motivation for you. Charging for things definitely does change the nature of the interaction. If you rent your ladder, say, rather than lend it – you might end up a couple of pounds richer but you both miss out on the great buzz you get from helping and being helped. If classifieds were to be introduced we think that 97% of offers would remain free. But perhaps it would affect the ethos of the site to see that 3%. Or perhaps it would be the “thin end of the wedge” and we would find ways of charging for all sorts of other things… I hope not! Anyway, thanks so much for your thoughts. Perhaps we should do some fundraising events.

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on November 26 2014 Adrian Lobo said:

Personally, I use Streetbank (rather than the alternative sites) to give away and lend goods/services/skills because of its ethos (real sharing not “$ sharing”, non-commercial, creating social value, equity matters). See:

I do worry about opening it up to charging as that encourages more of the Airbnb interaction rather than Couchsurfing. Where users want to offer services or run workshops/activities that have costs they could do so via a more equitable donation model.
The exception to charging is for local government and other non-profit organisations that wish to reach their local Streetbank audiences. Streetbank should definitely actively pursue this as it adds value to neighbourhoods and these local governments, agencies and non-profits who expend money trying to reach their communities in other ways. Think of other ways to selectively tap into the value (hyperlocal audiences) Streetbank has to offer non-profit organisations.

Regarding sustainable funding for Streetbank’s OpEx costs, I think there are various regular ways to raise funds. Quarterly in-person Streetbank local events (Christmas parties, etc) could raise quite a bit. Streetbank-organised donation based activities/events could also voluntarily contribute a proportion of the donations to Streetbank.
Thanks for your hard work and do keep us posted on how you tackle this.

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on November 25 2014 Sam Nic, Tess, Alice & Rachel said:

Thanks so much – this is fascinating and encouraging feedback. There seems to be three themes in the suggestions:
1. Crowdfunding… A while back we took a big strategic decision…. To be not-for-profit. That means we can’t offer a return on an investment. However, perhaps we could offer something else? Something non financial in return for donations – perhaps Tshirts? Neighbourhood sharing packs? Dinner with some celebrity?! Anything else….? This is similar of what we are doing at
2. Grants…. We have pursued a small number of grants – for instance we have received funding from Nesta and more recently the Tudor Trust. Our new charitable status will allow us to approach many more charitable trusts – so as you suggest we plan on doing more of this! However, these tend to be for specific projects – to improve Streetbank or get Streetbank going in specific areas.
3. Councils… Brilliant idea! We have received money from Camden and very recently Hounslow to get these London Boroughs sharing. Camden residents are already saving thousands of pounds every month and Streetbank helps in a small way build community spirit – again this is money that goes on running a specific project in a specific area.
All of these things we are doing in some way and are really helping – but they tend to be for specific projects – rather than the ongoing running costs – the boring but vital task of covering the costs of keeping the lights on! Anyway, thanks so much for the feedback so far and the measured, thought-provoking and intelligent debate! We are grateful….

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on November 24 2014 Neil Davies said:

Agree with Catrina – paid classifieds would be OK in a new section. I personally dread using Gumtree

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on November 23 2014 TerrieHS said:

Go for grants and crowd funding I say. I, and I suspect, many others would leave if we were bombarded with ads. Totally appreciate there are significant costs of running/administering the site, but suggest that, as part of a transition to a sharing economy, that we be creative about how we support this in a way that doesn’t support the "more is better’ economy. Not suggesting this is easy, but Crowdfunding could be an option worth trying.

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on November 18 2014 Paul Iribarne said:

In a scenario where sharing between neighbors is active, one of the mail beneficiaries (apart from each participant!) is the local council/ municipality, retaining people, improving social capital, and improving quality of life in general (could also even argue that it generates more economic activity as people stay in the neighborhood and are able to find solutions locally). So wouldn´t it make sense for councils to pay a monthly fee for this service? You could hace a scale with a different fee depending on the number of active members… Great job people. best

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on November 18 2014 Karim Eldomyati said:

These are 2 good websites for crowd funding
Top 10 Crowdfunding Sites, This list is based on independent traffic data found on Alexa & Compete.

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on November 18 2014 Karim Eldomyati said:

One thing that I love about Streetbank is that it is clean and empty of ads. and that makes it a special website so my opinion is to focus on fundraising and crowd funding instead of classifieds.

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on November 18 2014 Catrina Flynn said:

I think charging for classifieds is a good idea. The whole ethos of Streetbank is about sharing and giving things for free. If people want to charge for goods and services, then they should pay. From what I can see there are quite a few of them! I think the classifieds should be easily identifiable – perhaps in a separate section.

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on November 13 2014 jason palmer said:

Sounds like you need to apply for grants

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on November 11 2014 Sam McIntyre said:

Sounds like a great idea to me! You have to pay to advertise things on ebay.