Subscribe to industry newsletters

A Different Life 'insures' customers feel good

Different Life may be relatively new to the insurance industry but the online company is transforming the way life insurance policies play a part in people's lives: the company has taken its business online to make buying life insurance simple, transparent and affordable.
A Different Life 'insures' customers feel good

Raising funds for worthy causes

But beyond this, Different Life is maximising impact rather than profit via its crowdfunding platform - - which helps raise funds for various worthy causes run by credible NGOs. Plus, for every life policy bought, Different Life allows the policyholder to donate their first premium and every anniversary premium thereafter to one of the worthy causes on the platform. "This means that while Different Life's clients get to look after their own families' futures, they are also making a difference to somebody else's," says Ryan Sobey, Operations Manager at

The brainchild of Different Life founders Philip and Atholl Tomlinson, this concept sees this business giving some 10% of its pre-tax profits every financial year to philanthropy. "Currently, the donations from policy holders have been incredible and we have seen many of the worthy projects on our platform receive the funds they so desperately need," says Sobey.

Take for instance The Grace Factory in Gauteng, which runs the Giving Hope to New Mothers project by providing survival packs to new moms who are unable to afford basic baby care essentials. The organisation joined the platform to raise funds for more baby products to go into the survival packs. "We support children's homes in need with the basic necessities such as nappies, formula, clothes, blankets and more. We also distribute maternity packs to mums in government hospitals and clinics," says Amy Westerman, who runs the project.

They were able to make 600 maternity packs from the funds raised via "It was such a pleasure partnering with the organisation. They are 100% transparent in the way they operate - their main aim being to make a difference - and they are fully committed to this. And it helped that they have a great team and effective marketing tools," concludes Westerman.


Another beneficiary which has found success on the platform is Paradigm Shift's Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship programme in Tembisa, providing comprehensive training to entrepreneurs making less than R100 a day. Paradigm Shift field agent Peter Langley likes the fact that's focus is purely funding. "This is crucial to getting a project off the ground," he says, while adding that he appreciates the fact that also plays a vital role in creating awareness around the campaign. "I am hoping for Paradigm Shift to get some good business exposure, and through that exposure for people to realise the importance of a project like this and to ultimately donate to our cause."

With the help of funding received via, the Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship programme has achieved notable success. Currently 19 people have been through the first module of the Entrepreneurship programme and at the end of the nine weeks, the entrepreneurs' report showed that there had been a roughly 40% increase in overall revenue generated. On average, each entrepreneur supports four other people, underlining the importance of the increase in revenue.

"I know that the people behind truly believe in the causes in which they become involved. Their hearts are behind making an impact rather than a profit, yet they understand and place a high level of importance on having an economically successful model," concludes Langley.

It's because of their presence on that the Children in the Wilderness' Library Rebirth project has managed to complete a major revamp of the library at Vululwazi Primary School which serves the Mqobela and Mpukane communities in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. "It had fallen into disrepair and was being used to store broken and unwanted school supplies," explains Janet Wilkinson, Programme Coordinator of Children in the Wilderness.

Together with, funds were raised to cover the costs of all the building materials. Now the school children and the community as a whole will benefit from the upgraded library as books for all ages are available there.

Making a credible impact

Not just any charity organisation gets to participate on There is a stringent process in place to verify the credibility of the causes wanting to receive funding. "Donors need to know they are making a credible impact on a charity that is genuinely making a difference to lives," Sobey explains.

"We look for projects which fall into one of five major categories," explains Sobey, "Our focus areas for philanthropy are: poverty alleviation; job creation; healthcare; education and the environment."

To join the online platform, charities must make an application and then be vetted before a decision is made. Once a charity is given the nod of approval, it will appear on the website and receive some marketing to generate awareness around the cause. This not only helps it raise the funds it requires, but puts it in touch with the right networks too. Once the charity's goal has been reached in terms of funds raised (approximately three months), it will leave the platform to make room for other worthy causes.

From a donor's perspective the process of monitoring their donation is really simple. "One of the aspects of the initiative that people find really appealing is that they are kept up-to-date with regards to the lives they are helping change for the better. They get to see the process and how their donations are being used," Sobey says.

And if a Different Life policyholder refers a friend or family member who also buys a policy, the referrer gets to donate another month's premium to their chosen cause.

While everybody benefits from a Different Life insurance policy (, anyone can donate to a project by visiting

Let's do Biz