Updated: Sep 24, 2019
When I first fundraised £1,000,000 (why £1 Million? DETAILS HERE) to build a home in Swaziland (for 8 homeless disabled people) back in 2014, I still had a lot to learn about making/raising money…. Despite the support of SO many kind, wonderful people - from my Patron, Richard E Grant to Jools Holland and Sir Ranulph Fiennes - my fundraising efforts were a terrible, heart crushing failure.
What it took me until this year to understand (and I owe it to working with the incredible Kat Byles) was that the principle behind the fundraising effort back then (that all humanity was born equal) was still valid AND one of the core beliefs that I had actually held my entire life. #Equality
Having turned vegan in 2014, this idea of ‘equality’ had expanded within me even further to become a deep, resonating recognition of the equality of ALL life, no matter its form.
Recently, I've also been able to newly recognise the passions that I've been living by (and that are still all important to me) my whole life, previously subconsciously…. #Equality #Freedom #Togetherness #AFairChance
Being a ‘People Person’, I decided to have a second go at raising £1,000,000 (in person this time, not online) by hitting the road in a Campervan - Millyonaire Milly - in November 2018. My very first Sponsor - Bird & Wild - suggested that I set up as a vegan/cruelty free/eco friendly stall/coffee shop as I travelled, so that I could fund my travels (and live my principles) without taking from the donations.
What I didn’t anticipate was that I would fall absolutely, head over heels in love with focusing on nature/animal welfare: wildlife, animal life, fish life… ALL life!
Swaziland was always at the back of my mind - but I had given myself 3 years to raise the money so felt no immediate pressure - and then a few weeks ago (out of nowhere) suddenly a lot of people FROM Swaziland - old friends & previous work colleagues - started to get in touch, all in the same week (for all sorts of different reasons) and the same question was being asked on all sides… “Have you just given up on Swaziland?” And then, “Why don’t you just give up on Swaziland? Are you only holding onto it because you’re being stubborn?”
It really upset me but it forced me to be honest with myself… The result? No matter what, I was still 100% committed to the home. This home had even now developed further in my head: having experienced for myself the healing power of nature, the home would be a ‘wild’ place, a refuge for countless wildlife as well as 8 disabled people to benefit from.
By now (August 2019) my vegan/eco friendly stall/coffee shop had grown into on online scheme, switching 100s of businesses over to more ethical products AND I had stumbled across and launched a plan to rewild urban areas across the UK.
I had a vague suspicion that the community I was establishing in the UK would some day fund the Swazi home but I wasn’t sure how and I put it to the back of my mind.
Then one afternoon - standing by the sea in Anglesey - I was speaking to one of my Partners, explaining how I had stopped using the van as a stall/coffee shop (selling only at live events) because sales had been too minimal and instead had set up the online ‘Eco Intent Scheme’ (selling £1000s worth of compassionate, planet friendly products/services to a UK wide commercial market) and how actually everything was set up to run passively, to build on sales exponentially.
As I spoke, it hit me… I had accidentally created a position where I could run/grow my animal welfare (AND my conservation work) in the UK about 50% passively and 100% remotely, which enabled me to continue my efforts in the UK from anywhere in the world: from Swaziland, if I could think of a way to raise the money for the home sooner…
I genuinely felt like I had been led to be in this unique position (through no conscious actions of my own) either through fate or my own subconscious drive...
So now that I could PHYSICALLY head to Swaziland as soon as 2020 (still overseeing the growth/flourishing of Pocket Protection & Eco Intent in the UK) was it time to take a fresh look at HOW I would fund the home?
And then another truth occurred to me: what I had thought was a diversion (a sideways drift into animal welfare/conservation and what began PURELY as a way to fund my travels) had actually been the education I needed on how to make/raise money, to build the Swazi home in 2020.
More importantly, the new fundraising plan that came to mind was absolutely (as I had previously suspected) founded on the community that I had built in the UK through my animal welfare/conservation work…
In a beautiful twist of ‘fate’ (if that’s what it was) I saw that I had come full circle…
I had hit the road to raise the £1,000,000 and because of that, brought together a community of Partners (whose eco/compassionate products I would sell) to fund my travels as I fundraised. This taught me how to make money effectively/create a sustainable business model. All of my travels caused me to stumble upon a rewilding idea that others hadn’t been on the road to notice. Wanting to maximise the positive work that I was doing (on animal welfare and now conservation) I established an online sales scheme (AND a Nationwide infrastructure for the conservation work) to allow the projects to grow very quickly and mostly passively AND from which I could take an income. This now allowed me to work remotely, from Swaziland, in fact…
#Community was another word I lived by: I had created a community of Partners/Supporters. This had unexpectedly provided me with the audience I was missing during my 2014 fundraising campaign, so…
Here’s how I suspect (unless further evolution occurs) I am going to fund the Swazi home, ‘Wild Anchor’…
The ‘Wild Community’ (also continuing to grow as Eco Intent & Pocket Protection do) allows me to offer 200 ethical, UK companies (complementing the Partners I already have) significant sales/promotional opportunities AND corporate BENEFITS for £1000 each annually - raising £200,000 per year.
(Win/Win! - I will only be working with UK companies whose products/services will be of genuine interest/benefit to the Wild Community).
(£100,000 the first year funds the land purchase, the house build and the first year’s costs, with £100,000 going into savings.) £160,000 the next year moves into savings (£40,000 for house running costs) and so on for 6 years. This funds the annual running COSTS of the home for 6 years whilst building up a £1,000,000 LUMP SUM to be invested to yield 4% annual interest, to fund the home permanently from then on.
And how is the £1,000,000 invested? In property to be used to allow people to tap back into their ‘inner wild’… Homes and buildings to be used for ‘wild’ retreats, hired by companies selling foraging, wild swimming and other ‘wild outdoor’ services/events. This income provides £40k annually to fund the home in Swaziland WHILE aiding people in the UK to live warmer, richer, healthier and more aligned lives, tapping us all back into nature. (Partners who have paid £1000 to be in the Mission Milly Club get discounted rates off hiring fees too).
And how do I know this investment will yield 4% interest? Because I have spent the last 9 months working with companies who would either hire these spaces or who run similar ventures themselves. Spooky!!
Finally… WHY is it still SO important to me to build the home in Swaziland?
After speaking about it at length with a friend, it became clear…. Firstly, I had made a promise and there are some promises in life that you don’t break, not if you can help it. I know that I’m only helping 8 people in Swaziland initially BUT - as my friend pointed out - a home is someone’s whole world and I would be providing that 8 times over AS WELL as providing a safe space for local wildlife to thrive too.
Really, creating ‘homes’ and ‘safe spaces’ is all I’m doing, across all 3 complementary/intertwined projects: a safe space for wildlife/nature (and greener spaces for humanity) through Pocket Protection, cleaner waters (homes for aqua life) and ceasing the suffering of animals in labs (to live, knowing that they are safe) through the Eco Intent Scheme and - of course - building ‘Wild Anchor’ for 8 - human and in need - disabled Swazi youngsters.
I know from travelling in the Milly Van that as nomadically or freely as we can all live, we all still need a safe space, even if that’s wherever we set up each night. We all deserve that.