Introduction to Civic Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding platforms have attracted attention for their capacity to bring together like-minded people from far-flung corners of the world. What we are examining today is the ability of crowdfunding to bring together neighborhoods and communities. In the past few years, citizens and community groups in cities worldwide have planned, funded, and carried out a growing number of neighborhood improvement projects with the help of civic crowdfunding. Our Crowd Rocks wants to bring civic crowdfunding to the West Louisville community to begin to make resident led improvements, but to use technology to make West Louisville a true community where we work to build a better future for our family and children. civic crowdfunding represents an exciting new model of community development—potentially allowing citizens to lead the physical improvement of neighborhoods and building long-term community capacity.
A Perspectives on Civic Equity Crowdfunding
The civic crowdfunding model we discuss includes resident-led, resident-funded projects that may include, but do not require, government, foundation, or corporate collaboration. These projects can be viewed from three perspectives. At first glance, civic crowdfunding resembles the crowdfunding model ubiquitous on social media, but for us the changing investment rules are opening up a market for equity crowdfunding, allowing businesses to bypass the venture capital stage to raise investment capital directly from small investors. This type crowdfunding vehicle has the power to unite the West Louisville community to create new community funded businesses and to build wealth as a community. According to a report from One West, there is $ 217 million of retail leakage from the West Louisville. Crowdfunding created business would allow recapturing some of this leakage to build wealth for the community.
Civic Crowdfunding A Local Connection
Civic crowdfunding projects serve the public good and are most often place-specific. Their network of supporters is also typically local. Civic crowdfunding projects more often originate from place-based communities and organizations, ranging from incorporated nonprofits to loosely affiliated community-based groups or networks of neighbors. As a result, civic crowdfunding is often intimately linked with existing, offline relationships. Because they are driven by a shared interest in a place, and in offline networks, civic crowdfunding campaigns more closely mirror other forms of local civic engagement and community development than they do other forms of crowdfunding.
Civic Crowdfunding and Community Development
Civic crowdfunding looks to the field of community development as a source of inspiration. Community development has been defined as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.” The field encompasses diverse models of community change, including social action, mass mobilization, social planning, and locality development. Face-to-face meetings and a shared focus on the physical and social health of a specific community typically anchor community development work. The most ambitious community development projects work to achieve comprehensive community change through multifaceted efforts to transform life in distressed urban neighborhoods.
Civic crowdfunding is a promising method for community development for three reasons. First, it provides a convenient way to raise a small amount of funding to use directly or to use the matching funds often required by grants. Second, it provides a way to enlist broader support in community projects—both as funders and participants. And third, civic crowdfunding can build social capital, a desired outcome of many community development efforts.