The SOUP movement is a network of community-run crowdfunding events, each celebrating and supporting local projects in their area. The concept is simple: local people donate a small amount (usually £5) for an evening of live music, delicious food and good company. During the event, four local people pitch an idea to improve their community - anything from planting flowers, to running a kids’ club, to establishing a community cafe. Attendees listen to the pitches, then vote on their favourite. The winning project takes away all the donations to make their project happen, then return to a future event to report back on how they got on. Inspired by the original event, established in Detroit back in 2010, SOUPs have now sprung up all over the world, and in Scotland in Stirling, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Moray.
I founded Stirling SOUP, back in 2016 (it’s now run by a new team of volunteers), and was always struck by the power of local people choosing to invest their own money in local projects. For many winners, the vote of confidence from local people putting their trust in a project was the boost they needed to take their idea to the next stage.
Savi Maharaj made the winning pitch at the first Stirling SOUP, on behalf of local charity Stirling Citizens for Sanctuary (since renamed Forth Valley Welcome). She said “this has been an amazing initiative, providing not just a novel fundraising opportunity for local charities, but also giving them greater visibility and a chance to network with each other. The £500+ prize pot was very helpful for the work we do to befriend and help Syrian refugees resettled in Stirling and Clackmannanshire. But the money was not the only benefit we received. We also made many new friends, attracted new volunteers, and made useful contacts with other local charities and social enterprises”.