Xploro’s Crowdfunding Journey

Lessons learned in our mission to fund a brothers and sisters companion app for Xploro.

For some time now we’ve been keen to create new functionality for Xploro to address a problem which often goes unnoticed and is rarely tackled, when a child is being treated for a serious illness like cancer. That problem is the effect such a devastating diagnosis often has on the brothers and sisters of the child going through treatment.

Xploro CEO, Dom Raban, has spoken many times about his own family’s experience when his daughter Issy was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer at the age of thirteen but it’s only recently that Issy’s little brother, Oscar, has had his story brought to the fore.

Oscar, who was eleven at the time, was, by Dom’s own admission, largely forgotten about when it came to his emotional needs and struggles during the year Issy was undergoing treatment, and this, unfortunately, is the case for many youngsters in a similar position.

Xploro can help me stop worrying about my little brother

It’s completely understandable that when parents face the stark reality of losing a child every ounce of their being – their time and attention as well as practical and emotional resources – focus on doing whatever they can to support them through their journey, but this naturally robs their siblings of much of the support they need as children, not just in their everyday life but also when it comes to understanding what’s happening to their brother or sister.

These kids all too often experience feelings of fear, guilt, resentment, confusion, anger, loneliness and grief, feelings which they need to address and work through with their folks at a time when they sometimes just aren’t available.

How hard can it be?

That’s the background to why we’re crowdfunding; Xploro already helps children with a serious illness and now we want to expand that to help their siblings too. 

We weren’t completely naive when it came down to it – we knew we could only do this once, and that we would be relying on people’s goodwill at a time when the wolf was at the door for many of them. We also knew that developing the siblings companion app with a hospital as partner, as we had with Xploro, was unlikely to happen for some time as resources were being diverted to the Covid 19 response not just here in the UK but globally.

So we pressed ahead.

We set out with two targets. The first was £7,500 which would enable us to do some basic things like change our subscription model to offer Xploro to all the children in a family rather than just the child undergoing treatment; extend our chatbot to include answers to some of the most commonly asked questions of siblings; allow brothers and sisters to play multiplayer games together; and to share calendars so they can see what each other is up to.

The second more ambitious target was £37,500. Reaching that would unlock a whole load of cool stuff like allowing siblings’ avatars to interact in augmented reality; letting the avatars leave virtual gifts for one another and messages on an in-app blackboard; and creating an emoji based messaging system. Each of these features will offer reciprocal support for the children in question and ensure that nobody is left out.

Xploro is crowdfunding

First things first.

Dom recorded a video for the campaign and set up a page, we used our social media channels to get the word out and had some initial success. Next we approached our personal networks and were buoyed by the response there too. We were thrilled by the number of people who wanted to make personal donations either because they understood the mission from first hand experience or because they believed so much in what we wanted to do.

With only four weeks in which to hit our target we figured a great way to get there would be to talk to businesses who might want to be involved in the journey so we approached our professional networks too. We offered organisations the chance to be an official Xploro Supporter for £500 or even an Xploro Patron for £1,000, and we were fortunate enough to have some very generous donations to the fund. We were on fire at the beginning of the campaign!


Hard Times Ahead

Unfortunately, despite our brilliant start, donations began to slow down after the first week. The stream became a trickle. 

‘It’s the bank holiday,’ we said. ‘It’ll pick up again in a few days.’ 

So we carried on pumping out social media messages.

‘It’s just a lull,’ we said. ‘All campaigns dip after the initial progress.’

And we went back to our little black book.


Then the trickle dried up and we went a few days without a single donation. That’s when we started to worry and whilst we never doubted the importance of the potential outcome to the boys and girls who will use the app, we did begin to doubt ourselves and how we were going about it. 

We asked ourselves what we were doing wrong. Were we spamming people? Were our followers sick of the increased output on social media? God forbid we’d become annoying and nagging!

Then we looked outside at what was going on in the world. Is it a case of bad timing? With so many individuals and businesses struggling with the fallout from the pandemic is it any wonder we’ve hit a tough spot?

Where are we now?

With only a few days to go till the campaign closes we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we’re not going to raise the full amount this way. Short of a flurry of donations we’re going to struggle to even reach our lower target – in which case all those generous people will get their cash back. 

But, ever resilient and never ones to back down from a challenge, we will continue to the end and if we can’t do it this way, we’ll find another. For us it’s too important to leave kids like Oscar struggling when we know we can help. So by hook or by crook, we’ll eventually get there whether it be through crowd funding or another way entirely.


Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Let it not be said we didn’t try our hardest, so, if you’ve donated already, thank you so much, we’ll let you know how it turns out; but if you haven’t, what have you got to lose? You could be one of that flurry of people who make all the difference.

So for one last time: we’re looking for individuals or businesses who can help us reach our Crowdfunding target.

The closing date is Friday 25th September 2020 at 7.00pm and we would really appreciate your support.

Please donate here

Richard Douglas - Studio Manager / Writer

Richard Douglas
Studio Manager / Writer