Featured Image: Weston super-Mare Grand Pier: The Curious Pixie

Avonmouth Docks, Bristol

AskingBristol wants to level up the Third Sector so that the smallest voluntary group has the same opportunities to ask for support as the largest charity.


While High Sheriff of Bristol, John Manley saw that small community grants can have an extraordinary impact on local voluntary groups. These groups typically ask for no more than a minuscule fraction of what organizations, businesses and individuals donate to national charities, yet they have enormous trouble in accessing funding and other help. In fact, research done by Community Foundations in Ceremonial Counties showed that 80% of giving (money) went to 4% of charities.

Seeing this undemocratic nature of the Third Sector, John created AskingBristol; a series of experiments focused on creating a bottom-up matching service for asks in the Greater Bristol area. The aspiration is to enable asks from all sizes/types of voluntary/community groups and charities to be routed [bottom-up] through the SuperConnectivity of Bristol to the best people to fulfil that ask. Using this approach, different communities, individuals, businesses and organizations become connected in new ways to the benefit of the whole City.

Previous experiments have narrowed down the types of ask in the system to four categories:

Things, Expertise, Services, and Time.

Current Focus

The current phase of the project is focused on identifying whether the supply can meet the demand. With over 4,000 charities and countless voluntary and community groups in Bristol, there is the potential for the network to face tens of thousands of asks a year when launched at scale.

In order for the network to truly level up the Third Sector it needs to be able to meet this demand. This is why the final AskingBristol experiment is aimed at working with Givers to create successful matches based on Things and Expertise to understand the true capacity of Bristol to fulfil the likely scale of asks.

The Future

Launching AskingBristol at scale across the Greater Bristol region is our priority. We believe that Bristol has the connectivity required to become the world’s first HyperConnected city, where groups can interact and support each other without barriers.

This idea is not limited to Bristol, however. If we can show that the system works, then other cities will be able to adopt it, and Third Sector levelling up will occur across the world.

To learn more about our journey so far, find a downloadable guide to AskingBristol below, including the conclusions of our previous phases/experiments and aspirations moving forward.

'Social Infrastructure Platforms' - Professor Martin Parker's (University of Bristol) Academic Publication on AskingBristol is Live.