Garage Gang – BIG IDEA
Garage Gang is a Ukrainian NGO set up in 2009 to support creative cities and a resilient society through social innovations and entrepreneurship, crowdfunding, and venture philanthropy. With its online platform BIG IDEA, Garage Gang also seeks to spread ideas of sustainable development and build bonds between civil society and business. BIG IDEA (or Spilnokosht) was started in 2011, initially as an information, discussion and networking platform. It was the first Ukrainian-language portal to report on new themes and trends in social innovation and entrepreneurship. BIG IDEA launched a crowdfunding platform in 2012 to help local initiatives and innovators raise funding for their projects. Today, BIG IDEA is the biggest and most popular crowdfunding site in Ukraine, and it has helped hundreds of culture, education, media and human rights projects take off. BIG IDEA generates revenue from users, who are asked to give 7% of the funds they raise on the platform for their own initiatives back to BIG IDEA. In 2020, this model generated revenue beyond what was needed to cover the costs of the platform, yielding a surplus which was used to expand and develop the platform. Garage Gang is currently expanding the model to allow businesses to match donations made by their employees and customers to projects they care about, thereby generating trust between business and society while creating meaningful change.
In response to Covid-19, the BIG IDEA platform was used to crowdfund for a campaign to produce and distribute protective plastic shields for medical staff across the country. Some $3,000 was collected to develop and distribute more than 1,900 protective shields in various cities.
Theory of Change
An environment of constant learning, mutual responsibility and exchange of ideas empowers citizens to develop their own ideas, energy and creative potential to develop activities together and achieve social change.
BIG IDEA is serving to help develop projects that provide legal advice on civic rights, investigate abuses and corruption in the Ukrainian judiciary, protect the lives and health of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia or Crimea, help underprivileged children develop entrepreneurial skills, etc. Even the famous Hromadske TV, a new Ukrainian public broadcaster founded in 2013 amid the tumultuous events of the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv to serve as an alternative to the country's oligarch-controlled media, launched with initial funding raised on BIG IDEA. In addition to crowdfunding, the “Opportunities” section of BIG IDEA offers news about grants, internships, educational programs, while the “Practices” section reports the latest trends in social innovation and entrepreneurship. Besides BIG IDEA, Garage Gang also leads several other projects, like “Sunday Borshch,” a mini-grants program where participants join a lunch for an entrance fee and review a “menu” of proposed projects. Participants vote on the best projects and the winners are award a mini-grant raised from the entrance fees.
The BIG IDEA platform has grown from a small networking site for local initiatives to become the country's leading crowdfunding platform. BIG IDEA has hosted crowdfunding campaigns for 410 successful projects. More than $1.2 million have been collected on the site since 2012, through a total of 54,000 individual donations. Apart from facilitating innovative projects, the platform has nurtured a new culture of giving in Ukraine. BIG IDEA has expanded into a dynamic platform for innovation in general. Its journal of social innovation (“Practices”) has published 1,221 articles featuring creative ideas and innovation. Most recently, BIG IDEA has added a new “Workshop” section for social innovators to share ideas, trainings and partnerships to boost collaborative social change in Ukraine.