Innovation In Giving

Project Dirt is a social networking platform connecting community projects with green and social benefits. It is a knowledge hub for learning, sharing, encouraging, supporting and promoting great activities across communities.

Project Dirt believes in the power of people – in nurturing great projects and not reinventing the wheel. The organisation is about social networking for a purpose, aiming to be the central resource helping individuals, charities, communities, local authorities and companies make a big impact on all the social and environmental challenges associated with their local area.

The core objective is to make it easy for members to achieve tangible positive change in their community. There are two ways for this to happen. Firstly, individual projects can organise activities through project pages, promote activity or find help (expertise, advice, resources and volunteers) locally via the online platform.

Secondly, people interested in getting involved with a project can see who’s doing what in their local area – and connect with them.


Started in 2008 in south London, Project Dirt is now a national service with seven ‘hubs’ in cities across the UK, as of February 2014, with plans to become international within a few years. With nearly 9,000 members working on over 1,700 projects and at least 60 events a week, the focus is on what people and organisations do rather than what they say.

Companies are also in on the act. Timberland and Neal’s Yard Remedies have both used Project Dirt to provide micro grants and employees as volunteers to certain projects. The Mayor of London now has three programmes using Project Dirt and Camden Council has chosen to run its sustainability engagement through the site. Skipton Building Society has also created a network for its nationwide “Grassroots Giving” campaign through Project Dirt in 2014.

In an independent evaluation conducted in 2013, 94% of people interviewed said they’d been inspired by things they’d seen on Project Dirt, while two out of three project leads who were recruiting volunteers found some through Project Dirt.

The organisation was chosen as one of Deloitte’s Social Innovation Pioneers in its 2012/13 program, is shortlisted for a Sustainable City Award in March 2014 and worked with Neal’s Yard Remedies in its Bee Lovely Campaign, which won the Best Consumer Engagement Campaign at the Ethical Corporation Awards 2013.

Going forward, the focus remains on actively resourcing its community, with plans to reach 100,000 members by 2015.

The award

Project Dirt was awarded £110,000 in the first round of the Innovation in Giving Fund to support the rollout of Project Dirt and develop the functionality of the web platform, including a system for facilitating the giving of time, money and resources in direct response to project needs, a badge/reward system and a better matching service.

A further award of £24,000 was made to support the evaluation of Project Dirt.


Nick Gardner
Co-founder and Director

Mark Shearer
Co-founder and Director

“We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen by Nesta as a recipient of the Innovation in Giving Fund. We will now be able to expand Project Dirt further and deeper across the UK and also build better tools to engage people with local activity taking place in their communities.”
Nick Gardner

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