The company claims that the funding represents the largest sum for an early-stage start-up in the social impact space.
The Series A investors in the platform come from across the world of sport, the arts, business and technology. They include:
- Nick Mason of Pink Floyd
- Dario Franchitti, IndyCar champion
- Jeffrey Thomas, Lightful board member
- Annika Small, awarded OBE for services to social innovation and digital technology
Lightful offers charities, individuals and social enterprises a single platform that enables organisations manage their social media content, supporter relationships and campaigns from a single dashboard. Integrated with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, its tools include a story-builder, in-platform chat, and analytics tools. It can be used via desktop and by iOS and Android apps.
It was founded in 2015 to revolutionise the way charities and social enterprises drive genuine positive action through social media.
It was set up by Vinay Nair (CEO), Carlos Miranda (Chairman) and Johnny Murnane (COO), from Ireland, the US and Ireland respectively.
Nair previously worked for J.P. Morgan and Social and Sustainable Capital, one of the largest social impact investors in the UK, and is currently practitioner-in-residence at Saïd Business School, Oxford University.
Miranda, a serial social entrepreneur, is the founder of strategy consultancy I.G. Advisors and Social Misfits Media, where he consults a wide variety of philanthropists, foundations, companies, charities, and social enterprises, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UN Women.
Murnane had an extensive career in management consultancy, and previously headed up Bank of Ireland’s UK strategy division.
What is the funding for?
The money raised will be used to develop its core platform with voice recognition, ‘bots’ and machine learning projects. It will also enable the organisation to expand internationally, working with the charities and ‘beyond profit’ organisations (those who place purpose alongside profits) that make up the £1.5+ trillion social impact sector.
Lightful has already signed up 1,800 charities, individuals and beyond profit organisations to mobilise causes on social media, including partnerships with Comic Relief and London’s Air Ambulance.
In addition to its core platform, Lightful will be further investing in a full-service digital consultancy called Lightful Services. This will address:
- what Lightful describes as “the lack of innovation in the sector”, and
- build bespoke technology solutions (e.g. community portals, donation pages for digital fundraising campaigns) for clients
The funding will also help expand the work of Lightful’s R&D division, Lightful Labs, which is trialling experiential technology including artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots and voice recognition. Lightful is this month taking part in a charity tech hackathon with Comic Relief.
This week Lightful launched #ReclaimSocial, its movement to “reclaim social media for social good”, designed to tackle recent claims that social media platforms like Facebook are “destroying society”.
Lightful’s founders see its successful funding round as proof of interest in impact investing, following the £95m late-stage acquisition of JustGiving by Blackbaud.
Vinay Nair, CEO & Co-Founder of Lightful, said of the successful funding round: “With claims that social media is destroying society and acting as a purveyor of hate speech, there’s clearly a significant opportunity to bring about change – and we believe the social impact space has a vital role to play. With the fantastic support from our incredible investors, we’re excited to try to make 2018 the year we can finally reclaim social media – for good.”
Nick Mason, one of Lightful’s investors, said: “Many charities have been hampered by time consuming tasks and budget constraints which inhibit progress. The Lightful concept is easing some of these fundamental issues, and this is exemplified by the sheer number of organisations signing up to the platform. I’m excited to see what the next few months have in store.”
Main image: Lightful founders (l-r) Carlos Miranda (Chairman), Vinay Nair (CEO) and Johnny Murnane (COO)
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