Crowdwish uses digital community to make dreams come true

Forget wishing upon a star, a new site has hopefuls wishing upon the kindness of crowds instead

“Everyone, from an orphan in Tanzania to an affluent hedge fund manager, likes to feel someone is listening to their hopes and dreams; to feel they’re not alone,” says Bill Griffin, founder of website Crowdwish.

Set up in January 2014, the site invites everyone to post their wishes, and every day Griffin and his team do their best to make the most popular one – voted by Crowdwish members and followers – become a reality.

Not all wishes have social change at their core – see the person who wanted to become a unicorn – but many centre around positive social deeds and activism. For example, a wish for help by the friend of a woman whose house was about to be repossessed saw Crowdwish set up a crowdfunding page which eventually bought in $1,210 (£768) in donations. This paid for the woman to move into a friend’s house and provide her with some initial financial support.

“Everyone, from an orphan in Tanzania to an affluent hedge fund manager, likes to feel someone is listening to their hopes and dreams”

After the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls in June, a wish was posted asking that the Nigerian schoolgirls be returned safely to their families. The Crowdwish team – often made up of students and interns – left 180 Post-it notes on the door of the Nigerian High Commission in London, each with a name of a missing girl on it.

Other wishes have seen sleeping bags offered to homeless people, free fruit given to those who need it and the wish that ‘the media would focus more on the good things that happen in the world’. This saw Crowdwish make a light-hearted dig at the Daily Mail, when a large notice was stuck on the paper’s building suggesting that women, emo bands, job seekers, wind farm enthusiasts (and others) use an ‘alternative entrance’ away from the main door.

“What we do doesn’t have to be huge,” says Griffin. “I’m happy with the subtle ways we grant wishes. It’s important for people to feel they’re being listened to and to feel someone is empathising with them.”

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This is the first startup venture for Griffin, who has a media and advertising background. He has received some investment and hopes at some point for the site to finance itself.

A pool of around 10,000 registered users vote on their favourite wishes each day, but this is also a community of people with ideas and resources who can help each other, and, as Griffin says, provide an antidote to clicktivism or armchair activism, because “It gets people out and involved in doing things for others”.