Make donating to nature accessible, engaging and meaningful

About Sumthing
Published on
July 30, 2023

Our mission is to make donating to nature accessible, engaging and meaningful.

Let’s face it. Nature’s not doing great at the moment. And while we all work hard to change the way we live our lives and run our businesses, we can’t sit idly by  waiting with making a real, positive impact before we've ruled out all the negative ones. When it comes to a more sustainable world we talk so much about NOT doing things anymore, that we almost forget there’s a ton of things we SHOULD be doing to restore and reverse damage done!

The IUCN tells us what those things are by specifying the key issues nature faces and quantifies their yearly magnitude. Now we’re not about to let those massive numbers depress us, so we’ve turned them into goals. For example; about 14 billion kilograms of plastic ends up in rivers and oceans each year. If we can take as much plastic out of the oceans as is landing in it each year, at least we’re not harming nature further. And once we overshoot those goals, we can even start to think about cleaning up the mess that’s already there.

Now getting there has a price tag: according to the United Nations needs 3 times as much financial support as it’s getting today, and it better get there fast.

We realised that to make this plot-twist happen, we need to make donating to restoration a much more rewarding experience than it is today. We're going all-in with technology to make restoration accessible, engaging and meaningful. Let’s unpack;

  • Accessible - we want to make it as easy as possible to do Sumthing for nature! That means getting great projects to your fingertips so you can donate with just one click
  • Engaging - nature’s comeback story is worth telling. Our project partners show you the impact made with each donation, and keep you updated on the cool stuff happening at their restoration sites.
  • Meaningful - we ensure your money makes its mark at the most relevant projects, ultimately building an ecosystem where project funding is determined by their effectiveness and not their marketing budget.

When we started out, the first thing we did was talking to a variety of nature restoration projects around the globe. Doing so gave us a few crucial insights about how we could change the game. The 7 key insights we found, still form the core of our platform and business today.

1. Build it once, build it well

Many projects would like to operate more transparently by showcasing their results in a digital environment. But is not efficient if every project builds their own. It wouldn't just be wasteful, but it would also result in a pretty bad user experience (think different log-ins with passwords you’ll keep forgetting).

We realised that although the projects may have a different focus, their needs for a transparency infrastructure are very similar. Whether it’s proof of a planted tree, or a restored piece of coral, the infrastructure to share it with donators could be the same. If we can build a platform that all projects can leverage, this stack can continuously improve and evolve into the best platform out there.

2. Get everything in one place

If a project operates a digital platform on its own, it will have a really hard time integrating more advanced but very costly verification technologies like satellites, drones, bodycams, underwater cams and AI into its operations.

But if tens of projects unite in one place, we can make those technologies accessible to all. Looking at the income side of things; bringing projects together also makes it much more interesting for larger organisations to integrate donations into their business. Think of places where money is already moving, and where people are willing to go the extra mile to be more sustainable, like e-commerce, travel bookings and other payments.

3. Ensure someone is paying for the tech. And it’s not the projects.

Nature restoration projects should be using the funds available to restore nature, not to buy technology. Thus the Sumting fee was created: for every 5 euro donated, customers pay 1 euro to Sumthing, so projects can use the platform for free. Read more about our business model here.

4. Curate projects at the gate 

It can be pretty daunting to find and contract the projects that are actually healing the planet. By scoring and selecting the projects for you, and sharing our findings transparently, we avoid that everybody has to do the extensive research themselves. And remove a ton of friction from the process. 

5. Standardise prices and enable comparison 

There’s a massive variance in prices projects ask for their work. Putting them next to each other allows for more easy comparison. We decided that each project should break down how they spend their donation. This not only shows the emphasis each project has on important components like preparation and maintenance, it can also explain any variations including local buying power. 

6. Maximise impact by coordinating supply and demand 

Multiple projects in one place allows us to route donations to maximise impact across geographies, seasons, and operational constraints This also makes the experience for businesses and individuals easier, because they can simply go to one place where they know they’re money will make the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time.

7. Securing the core transaction; the AI referee

We found that it’s really important to know that every donation’s result is unique and would not have been achieved without the donation otherwise (the fancy word for that is additionality). We can bring technology in to do this automatically, checking each proof’s metadata and the images themselves with artificial intelligence. Because we know when and where the impact is made, we can track impact from miles away with other technology like sensors and satellites.

There’s more where that came from! If you’re into technology and want to get specific, keep reading about how we’re using tech for good.

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