Can Civic Crowdfunding Kickstart Urban Innovation?
Matthew Hall from the team at Neighborland has published a fantastic post on Shareable Cities outlining how civic crowdfunding platforms like Citizinvestor can help “kickstart” urban innovation. It’s a piece you can’t miss. Here are a few of our favorite excerpts:
Although securing funding for projects civic or otherwise is still difficult, crowdfunding sites can offer an alternative to the standard gridlock of funding public projects. Currently if an individual or nonprofit wants to get their project funded they have to raise the money through their connections. Putting their projects online gives them a better chance of reaching beyond the resources they personally know. Plus, sites that are dedicated to funding civic projects will attract people who are interested in those types of projects creating a multiplier where more projects bring in more people to fund them, whereas searching for grants and offline donations does not have quite the same effect.
Although crowdfunding can be an alternative route to getting civic projects funded, a frequent criticism of the crowdfunding model is that civic projects should be funded through taxes and managed by city governments. Caitlyn Duer wrote, “we pay taxes, we vote, and the person we vote into office directs our tax money into the projects we want to see.” The view that government should be able cover every civic need is unreasonably idealistic. It would be ideal if taxes paid for everything, but there is a difference between the way things should be and the way they are. Waiting for government should do a better job has proven to be an ineffective strategy.
Crowdfunding gives people the opportunity to decide the terms of their civic involvement. They can choose to support projects they like and this gives them a greater connection with their city and its future. Civic crowdfunding is an opportunity to engage more people in these processes and open up more financial resources so that more projects can be funded, not all but more.
Read the entire piece on Shareable Cities.