Frequently Asked Questions
- What is PledgeBank for?
- PledgeBank is a site to help people get things done, especially things
that require several people. We think that the world needs such a
service: lots of good things don't happen because there aren't enough
organised people to do them.
- Can you give me some examples?
- Sure. 'I will start recycling if 100 people in my town will do the
same'; 'I will organise my child's school play if 3 other parents will
help'; 'I will build a useful website if 1000 people promise to
contribute to it'.
- How does it work?
- PledgeBank allows users to set up pledges and then encourages other
people to sign up to them. A pledge is a statement of the form 'I will
do something, if a certain number of people will help me do it'. The
creator of the pledge then publicises their pledge and encourages
people to sign up. Two outcomes are possible – either
the pledge fails to get enough subscribers before it expires (in which
case, we contact everyone and tell them 'better luck next time'), or,
the better possibility, the pledge attracts enough people that
they are all sent a message saying 'Well done—now get going!'
- What can I ask people to pledge?
- Pretty much anything which isn't illegal, and which doesn't incite
people to commit illegal actions. Anything too obscene might also be
taken down—this is a family friendly site!
- How can you be sure people will bother to carry out the pledge?
- We can't; PledgeBank is based on a psychological bet. We believe that
if a person possesses a slight desire to do something, and then we help
connect them to a bunch of people who also want to do the same thing,
then that first person is much more likely to act. We have some
success stories for a variety of pledges from the site,
and we have also
surveyed many of the money-based pledges that have succeeded, and found that
payment rates vary from 50% to well over 150%, with three-quarters of
people paying being typical.
- What do I get out of it?
- As a well intentioned subscriber, you get insurance against being the
only person to show up to the demo in the freezing rain or against being
the parent who discovers they've just volunteered to run the entire
school play on their own. As a pledge creator—you get a greatly
improved chance of achieving whatever change it is you want.
- Is it free?
- The site is free to use, no matter how big a pledge you create. PledgeBank
is run by a charitable organisation, though, so if you want to run an
especially big pledge, and feel like making a contribution, please
contact us or
make a donation directly.
SMS messages to PledgeBank (available in the UK only) cost your normal text fee.
- Who built PledgeBank?
- This site was built by mySociety.
mySociety is a charitable organisation in the United Kingdom, which has grown out of a community of
volunteers who built sites like TheyWorkForYou.com.
mission is to build Internet projects which give people simple, tangible
benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives. Our first project
was WriteToThem.com, where UK citizens can write to any of their
elected representatives, for free.
- Who pays for it?
- PledgeBank has been built by mySociety thanks to the effort
of a combination of paid core developers and unpaid volunteers. The
core developers were paid for by the
e-innovations fund in partnership with West Sussex County Council.
- Do you need any help with the project?
- Yes, we can use help in all sorts of ways, technical or non-technical.
Please see our volunteering page.
- Where's the "source code" to PledgeBank?
- The software behind PledgeBank is open source, and available to you
mainly under the GNU Affero GPL software license. You can download the source
code and help us develop it. You're welcome to use it
in your own projects, although you must also make available the source code to
any such projects.
- People build things, not organisations. Who actually built it?
- OK, we are
Edmund von der Burg,
- Translations by
Nic Dafis (Welsh),
Hugo Caballero Figueroa (Spanish),
Tim Morley (Esperanto),
Diego Galli (Italian),
LaPingvino and Leo De Cooman (Dutch),
Creso Moraes (Brazilian Portuguese),
Alexander Markushin (Russian),
maidan.org.ua team (Ukrainian),
Hugo Lamoureux (French),
Oliver Ding, Isaac Mao, Danny Yu, Nan Yang, Jacky Peng (Chinese),
Aliaksej Lavońčyk (Belarusian),
Jaroslav Rynik (Slovak).
- Thanks also to
Tangent Labs (for SMS in the UK),
the US military (for the world gazetteer),
CIESIN (for population density data),
Ordnance Survey (for UK postcodes),
Ben Furber for our favicon,
the entire free software community (FreeBSD, Linux, PHP, Perl, Python, Apache,
MySQL, PostgreSQL, we love and use you all!) and
Bytemark (who host all
Let us know if we've missed anyone.
Pledge Creators' Questions
- What sort of pledges work and what sort of pledges languish in obscurity?
- We're not sure yet, but we reckon that there are some general rules
which will apply. First, the lower a pledge target (in terms of
numbers), the more likely it is to succeed. Second, the sheer energy
with which you push a pledge, whether your own or one you've
subscribed to, will have a big difference. If you are willing to take
a wireless enabled laptop from door to door, and get people to sign up
then and there, you're more likely to be successful than someone who
puts their pledge up and forgets about it.
- How many people should I ask for?
- We recommend that you pick the lowest target you can possibly bear to.
Choose the number of people for which you could only just be bothered to carry
out your part of the pledge. One more than the number where it wouldn't
be worth it. Don't put the value any higher than that. This makes it
most likely your pledge will succeed, and more people than you expected
can always sign up.
- Why does my new pledge not appear on the All Pledges page or in search results?
- New pledges have just their own page, and are not shown elsewhere on
the site, until a few people have signed up to them. This is to make
sure we only show good quality pledges, which have an active creator
and some support behind them. So get out there and tell your friends and
neighbours about your pledge!
- Do you remove silly or illegal pledges?
- PledgeBank reserves the right to 'backpage' any pledge which we
consider to be inappropriate. This means that your pledge will work, but will
not show up on the all page, or in the search. We will normally backpage
pledges which are really nothing more than advertising or propaganda, or which
are entirely frivolous. We will also delete pledges which promote or incite
- Why can't I modify my pledge after I've made it?
- People who sign up to a pledge are signing up to the specific wording of
the pledge. If you change the wording, then their signatures would no longer
be valid. You can contact us if there is a cosmetic
change that you need to make. For larger changes, you can create a new pledge,
and ask your subscribers if they want to move across. There's a link to do
this from the 'Spread the word' section of your pledge page.
- Can I contact the people who have signed my pledge?
- At any time, you can send a message to your signers so far. Go
to your pledge's page, and follow the link under 'Spread the word'.
If your pledge succeeds you will be
given a link to send a message to all your signers, including those who
signed up by text message. You should give your contact details, and ask for
theirs, so you can stay in touch as you carry out your pledge. If anybody
signs your pledge later, the last message that you sent will be automatically
forwarded to them, and they will be given a link to read older messages.
- Can people sign up by SMS (text message), and if so how?
- Yes, although only in the UK. If you'd like to help us organise
SMS for other countries, please contact us. The flyers for your pledge
describe how to sign up by SMS. So the easiest way to remember is to print some
out and carry them with you. You can find the flyers from the 'Spread the
word' section on your pledge's page. Otherwise, for people in the UK, it says what to text and
where to text it to at the bottom of each relevant pledge signup box.
- How do I add a picture to my pledge?
- Go to your pledge page and click 'Add a picture to your pledge
(creator only)' under 'Spread the word on and offline'. Either find a picture
of something to do with your pledge, or even just use a photo of yourself!
- Can you make a special version of PledgeBank for my organisation?
- Yes. We can group your pledges together, and alter the logo,
colours or complete style to match your branding. We can intimately
link PledgeBank with the rest of your site in any way you imagine.
We can make it public to the world, or private just for you.
We normally charge for doing this, via our commercial subsidiary (any profits
go back into mySociety). Contact us saying a bit about
what you are thinking of doing. There's a list of example special sites at the
bottom of this page.
- Can I put up pledges in languages other than English?
- Yes! We have several fully internationalised versions of PledgeBank.
If your browser is configured to use one of those languages, PledgeBank will
automatically appear in them. Otherwise, follow one of the links at the
bottom of each page. If you are interested in volunteering to help translate
the site into your language, please read our translation
- What countries does PledgeBank work in?
- All of them. We try to detect which country you are in
automatically, and show you only pledges relevant to your country. To see what
PledgeBank looks like in other countries, click on the country name at the top of any
page, just right of the PledgeBank logo. Please contact
us if you'd like to help get more people in your country using PledgeBank.
- Why do you only have UK postcodes?
- We'd be happy to talk to anyone who could help us extend
the postcode search overseas—please join this
email list to help us out.
- ... and SMS?
- Again, please contact us if you
can help add text messaging in your country.
Please see our separate privacy page.