In a rapidly changing administrative environment, we should explore other funding models that could provide flexible financing options for public sector projects. One such alternative is crowdfunding. Civic crowdfunding could offer a powerful new way to support more public projects and encourage community involvement.
What is civic crowdfunding?
The term ‘civic crowdfunding’ refers to a subcategory of crowdfunding through which ‘citizens, often in collaboration with government, propose, fund and deliver projects that aim to provide a community service or deliver public value through a local-area-improvement project.’ Typically, project ideas are sourced from the crowd and placed on Internet-based platforms, where potential funders are able to search and make financial contributions to projects that resonate with their areas of interest or values. Together, these actions represent a new model of community involvement, allowing citizens to take an active role in the physical improvement of neighbourhoods.
Why is it being adopted by authorities?
Civic crowdfunding is still in the early stages of development and the market is growing rapidly. The approach is increasingly being adopted by local authorities due to the numerous economic and social benefits it can deliver.
These benefits include:
- The ability to leverage additional funds towards local-area-improvement projects.
- A new approach to citizen engagement and involvement.
- The ability to inform smarter investment decisions.
- The ability to increase innovation and experimentation while reducing risk and cost of failure.
- Improved community cohesion and resilience
While civic crowdfunding may have begun as a method of alternative finance, its true implications go far beyond fund-raising. From a citizen perspective, it provides a far more robust and satisfactory method for involvement in civic affairs. From an authority standpoint, it is able to foster more engaged and resilient communities and the projects it supports and funds will be more alert to public demand.