I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help

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.

Organisation Questions

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. mySociety's primary 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 ODPM's 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 Mike Bracken, Edmund von der Burg, James Cronin, Francis Irving, Chris Lightfoot, Etienne Pollard, Richard Pope, Matthew Somerville, Tom Steinberg.
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 our servers). 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 illegal behaviour.
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.

International Questions

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 help page.
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.

Privacy Questions

Please see our separate privacy page.