When trust in so many institutions is falling, it’s heartening to learn that in Britain, people’s trust in other people is on the rise (from 47 per cent to 54 per cent between 2014 and 2017, according to recently published British Attitudes data). It would seem that, in spite of the apparently deepening divisions in “Brexit Britain”, if anything, people are becoming more inclined to trust each other, not less.
As Dr David Halpern, chief executive officer of The Behavioural Insights Team (also known as the “Nudge Unit”), writes: “Levels of social trust, averaged across a country, predict national economic growth as powerfully as financial and physical capital, and more powerfully than skill levels – over which every government in the world worries about incessantly.” In short, trusting each other is good for us.
Reading the stories on this year’s Independent Happy List, it’s easy to see why trust in people is increasing. From providing support for isolated members of their communities and campaigning for plastic-free goods to help future generations, to raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities and good causes, many lives have been made better because of the actions of others. The impact they are having in their communities and even further afield is immense. It’s that impact that inspires people’s trust and it’s no surprise to learn that The Independent was inundated with nominations that told stories of people the length and breadth of the country going above and beyond to help, support and enrich the lives of others.
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According to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), 20.1 million people volunteered in some shape or form in 2017 to 2018. So many of the individuals on the list work, volunteer or fundraise for small charities. Many have responded to a deeply personal experience by setting up a small charity so others don’t go through the same.
At GoFundMe we are constantly inspired by the dedication and commitment of those people who take action and help those in need on our platform. Since its launch in 2009, GoFundMe has become synonymous with helping others and has evolved into the web’s “take action” button. People often ask why GoFundMe has been so successful. Central to its success is trust and a belief in the power of the web for public good. GoFundMe has invested heavily in the trust, safety and experience of its users. When a person launches a campaign on GoFundMe they trust that our platform will provide the support they need, so it is our responsibility to provide the best experience for all and in turn, ensure our fundraisers are more successful.
Helping our community is what brings us to work every day and for Chi-Chao Chang, our chief technology officer, it’s what drives our product and design choices. As he says: “It’s imperative that we always think about how we are creating features and design elements that will make fundraising easier and faster for our community; connecting donors to causes they care about and making our organisers more successful. A cleaner design for our fundraising pages helps donors find the latest information faster. While increasing our page speed not only results in more donations, it also helps organisers with weaker Internet connections. This helps someone who has poor connectivity after a natural disaster access our fundraising tools when they need it most.”
Continued improvement of our product and allowing people to access fundraising tools where they need them is how a GoFundMe campaign launched by protesters in Hong Kong raised more than £1.5m in under 24 hours. And donors are always 100 per cent protected on GoFundMe. We are the only platform of our kind to offer such a guarantee, which means that donations will get to the right place or will be refunded. This means that when a kind-hearted stranger wants to start a campaign to help others, donors can give in absolute confidence that the money is guaranteed to get to the right place.
As was the case with Vicky Diplacto, who was able to raise more than £50,000 through GoFundMe for the family of the little boy who was allegedly thrown from the viewing balcony at the Tate Modern. Although she had no connection with the family, she was moved to take action because her own brother was left paralysed and in a wheelchair after falling from a height several years ago. Using GoFundMe’s tools, Vicky was able to invite the family to open a separate beneficiary account with GoFundMe which gives them sole access to withdraw donations. We built this tool to make it much simpler for the campaign organiser and much more secure for the person benefiting. In an update on the campaign page, the family of the little boy, wrote: “We thank you very much for your gifts and all your kind messages of support. You can not imagine how it helps us to see so much humanity in this tragic ordeal. Thank you very much; you help us to keep going.”
At a time of unimaginable heartache, Vicky’s action and the action of the 1,555 people who donated to her GoFundMe campaign have inspired trust in humanity for one family. Inspired by people like Vicky, the members of the Happy List and the many volunteers, donors and small charities around the country, GoFundMe will continue to work hard for its users and to create a more connected and more trusting world.
I hope you enjoy the 2019 Happy List and that together, we can spread a little more happiness.
Now in its 11th year, the Happy List shines a light on the great Britons whose extraordinary efforts are for no personal gain, and who often go unrecognised outside their own communities. Click in the gallery above or here to see the full list of 50 Happy List nominees.