Category Archives: Tips & tricks to help you

Stuff that will save you time, money or sanity. Tips and tricks about our apps, and about useful digital democracy tools from other people.

Sitting in on Defra consultation training – part two: things I learnt about running a training session

Policy officers are regularly on the move in central government. This presents a challenge for effective consultation, as their knowledge and skills travel with them. In order to begin sharing the skills for great consultations, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) piloted their first workshop on ‘consultation procedures and principles’ with colleagues.  What can other central government departments learn from running a session like this?

Defra consultation event pic

1) Establish your processes before the session and stick to them

Often, consultation processes can be improved ‘on the fly’, which is great for group input, but it can be confusing to have frameworks and guidelines ‘designed by committee’. A good idea is to have the current procedures used by your department fully documented and readily available. It’s useful to have a consultation lead, who can advise on queries and help clarify any uncertainties. As an example, during the Defra session, the current processes were included as handouts.

2) Don’t be afraid to use examples

Looking back at examples of what has gone well and badly can help colleagues learn how to consult effectively. During the session, one attendee cited an example of running a consultation for four weeks over the summer period – this was pulled before the House of Lords as it was felt four weeks wasn’t a long enough consultation period for the particular issue. Sharing this kind of information about potential hurdles could save colleagues from spending time and effort repeating mistakes.

3) Lay all of your tools on the table

Many departments have lots of ‘tools in their toolbox’, ranging from software applications to the personal skills of the team. Look at what you have at your disposal and combine these to produce the most effective consultation. A mixture of both on and offline tools can help you to reach a wider audience. During the session, it was decided that events such as ministerial road shows are part of your consultation toolkit and with the right planning can lead to great results.

4) Get a facilitator to help run the workshop and continually improve it

When you are close to an issue, it can sometimes be hard to run the session from an objective point of view. Getting an external company in can help you to present the bigger picture. Having run a variety of consultation training sessions, one of the most useful things is getting objective feedback and coming back with ideas for additions or tweaks to improve the day.

5) Ensure the next steps are clear

Once the session has finished, it’s important to ensure colleagues know where they can access help from then on. Get all your guidance, tips and tricks in one place – your organisation’s intranet is a good one. Then you need to let everyone know where it is and how to use it.

As policies increasingly span multiple departments, it would be great to see an increased sharing of best practice and acknowledgement of learnings and failures in consultation across government. In an ideal world, amassing a small army of consultation champions (perhaps as one part of a related role – social researcher, analyst, policy or digital lead?) who represent the key teams in their department and could then be linked up pan-governmentally to share ideas and best practice would be fantastic.

With that in mind, we’re putting together Citizen Space user group meetings so that our users can share best practice and stories amongst one another – if you’d like to know more about any coming up, please ask your friendly Delib account manager!

Sitting in on Defra consultation training – part one: 5 things I learnt about consultation

Working with Defra for the past 18 months, I was pleased to be invited to one of their department training sessions on running effective consultations (including using Citizen Space). Here are some tips I picked up:

Defra online consultation event

1) Don’t ignore your users; bring someone in to represent them

Consultation should be considered from a user’s point of view – which sounds obvious right? But this is all too often forgotten amidst the document creation, planning and bureaucracy. To help solve this, Defra invited Ruth Chambers, Vice Chair of Defra’s civil society advisory board, along to the consultation session. Ruth highlighted the importance of setting out expectations early on and sustaining engagement. She also advised that departments should be honest with stakeholders about changes or challenges to help ensure they are engaged in both the topic at hand and the process.

2) Don’t get stuck in a silo, bring in skills from across the organisation

Defra are fortunate enough to have a dedicated consultation co-ordinator and better regulation unit. However, there are many other skills within the organisation which can be drawn upon to aid with the challenges of effective consultation. During the session, one of the policy officers on my table cited an example of a consultation which was run using solely paper-based methods with no forethought to analysis. The consultation attracted a large number of responses, which they are now struggling to collate and analyse. Sound familiar? It often is in many departments – but how many times can such mistakes be made, and could more case studies of how not to run consultations help with this?

3) Don’t get too comfortable, bring in a ‘devil’s advocate’ to keep you on your toes

Consultation has the potential to be a lengthy and involved process, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the nuts and bolts of it. During the session I sat with two policy offers – one of whom had been working on a consultation document for over a year. Bringing the document to such a session meant the attendees could offer some fresh-eyes on how to progress, especially when it came to the actual consultation questions. When asked for my advice about document creation with the view of consulting online, I recommended that the document structure could be clearly presented in chapters – a framework which can be easily mirrored in an online survey. In terms of setting the right questions, piloting with colleagues and any relevant stakeholder groups can help on this (see points one and two!).

4) Do run training sessions, but don’t stop there

Workshops or formal training sessions are just one part of the picture. BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) for example, run weekly digital surgeries where a member of their digital team will sit and allow colleagues to drop-in on sessions. BIS are also running their digital fortnight in October – a great opportunity to weave in online consultation. Related to this, one of the policy officers attending the session also suggested the idea of having consultation leads (or champions) within each team, so that consultation is managed and the issues being consulted on are kept at the policy level.

5) Don’t make it impossibly broad – be clear about the purpose of the consultation before you start

Where possible, thinking about the output early on and planning ahead for the different eventualities will ensure a smooth consultation analysis and reporting period. Summarising the outcomes of something which doesn’t quite fit into your original research question will prove much more challenging and could potentially invalidate your outcomes.

If you are reading this from a central government department, feel free to get in touch and share your experiences of similar challenges or your organisation’s approach to consultation.

 

Why share consultation results?

So, your Citizen Space consultation is closed and the results are in and analysed, but what can you do to share the results and outcomes?

Why Share Outcomes?

Most respondents who take part in a consultation want to know that their time is being valued. One of the best ways to ensure that these individuals both want to take part in your consultations and will keep coming back in the future is by publishing the outcomes of the consultation when it has finished. This way you can ensure that your constituents know that you are listening to them.

When respondents know that their participation is being taken seriously they are more likely to get involved in future consultations, as well as encouraging friends and family to take part. They will feel that their individual response has been valued, and, in turn, they will enter into the whole process with a more open and serious attitude.

We Asked, You Said, We Did

One of the features of Citizen Space is the WAYSWD section. This allows you to feed back once the consultation is complete, and lots of our Citizen Space customers use it to good effect. It allows you to quickly remind those who took part what the consultation was about, summarise the general feelings of respondents, and explain what has been done as a result of the consultation.

Many of our customers are already using this feature to keep respondents abreast of what has been done as a result of their feedback. For good examples of how organisations are already using the feature, see the following:

Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Barnet Council

More Detailed Reporting

We Asked, You Said, We Did is great for giving respondents a simple update, but sometimes a more detailed review of the results and outcomes may be required. If you have run a controversial consultation, or one that has involved large numbers of respondents, you might want to give a more detailed report of what was said, and what has and will be done as a result. A number of our customers offer detailed reports after their consultations, and these three are great examples of the different ways in which you can approach a report:

BBC Trust
We Are Camden
Bristol City Council

Reports can range from 5 pages to over 100, and vary in style and substance. Some are very data heavy, publishing large amounts of data that the reader can interpret as they wish. Others are very text heavy, having already extrapolated the data, summarising it and making it more accessible. They vary from very stylised to very functional, very complex to very simple. There are no hard and fast rules for what a report should look like.

One thing is certain: publishing a report doesn’t have to be as excessively arduous or time-consuming as it may, at first, seem. There are plenty of things you can do to make your life easier when you’re trying to break down responses. The “Request Summary Report” feature in Citizen Space allows you to quickly overview the questions you asked and turns qualitative responses into useful graphs and charts. You can also export all of the responses from a consultation in .CSV format, which can be opened in a number of different programs including Microsoft Excel and Google Drive.

Consultation reports do not just benefit stakeholders; they can also help you to reflect on what you are going to do as a result of their participation. The process of writing a report encourages you to consider how the consultation has (or, in some cases) has not changed a policy decision, and how best to tell your stakeholders and constituents what part they have played. Ultimately consultations are all about engagement, and publishing your outcomes can keep stakeholders, voters, and other members of the public involved in the decision-making process.

For more on why consultation analysis is important and why prior planning is key to a good consultation, see Ben’s article on the Democratic Society’s Open Policy Making website.

Introducing survey cloning in Citizen Space – 5 example uses

We’ve recently released the ability to clone existing online consultations in Citizen Space and already we’re seeing an increased number of uses for the feature, as well as positive feedback from current Citizen Space customers:

“The ability to clone an entire survey is something many of our users here in Sutton have been wanting to see, so the fact that this is now a simple to use feature within Citizen Space is great news. This will save us significant time when running repeated surveys, as well as making sure everything is as consistent as it needs to be. Another very, very welcome development from Delib.”

Glen Ocskó, Community Involvement and Innovation Manager, London Borough of Sutton

In order to celebrate the release of this awesome time-saving feature, we’d like to highlight 5 initial example uses:

1) Set up templates for online consultation which can be used to help standardise consultation processes.

In the past, customers such as Environment Protection Agency in WA have used their Citizen Space instance to enable information gathering through the online survey feature (as opposed to more formal consultation). Now with the ability to clone consultations, such exercises can be easily repeated. What is more, creating a survey based on a pre-existing template is quicker and simpler than creating one from scratch, meaning that subsequent consultations could be run by more junior staff members, saving EPA both time and money.

Citizen Space customer Stockport CCG who run a number of patient panels, can now also use the survey cloning feature to clone existing panel consultations. Newly cloned consultations can be easily tweaked and quickly re-published as a forthcoming consultation.

As well as cloning existing consultations, skeleton consultation templates could be created by Citizen Space users or consultation leads to ensure best practice. If template consultations are marked clearly, for example with the word [template] at the beginning of the title, other users can quickly identify and copy them as the basis of their own consultations.

2) Run quarterly surveys or annual consultations with the same question and answer structure, enabling longitudinal analysis.

Citizen Space customers such as London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham often run customer satisfaction surveys. Consultation cloning enables customers such as LBHF to run the same online survey at regular time intervals, ensuring results exports use always exactly the same column headings. Exported responses can then be merged, allowing direct comparison of service standards over time. Such longitudinal studies help to ensure that improvements are met within an organisation over a specified period of time.

3) Run multiple geographically specific consultations.

Customers often ask how they can ensure questions and consultations are relevant to respondents at a level which is meaningful to them. Citizen Space customers such as East Sussex County Council, for example, have used their instance to allow residents to have their say on street-lighting in different geographical areas. Such online consultations can now easily be created just once and then copied – simply re-naming for each geographical area of interest. Local level trends can be identified and published for each consultation, and higher borough-wide trends can still be identified through amalgamating the results data.

4) Run a private and public consultation with the same survey questions included.

Consultations often need to be open to the public but also target specific stakeholder organisations or individuals. By setting up a public-facing online consultation initially before cloning the consultation and choosing to add further questions applicable to respondents who may be responding in a private manner, consultations can easily be tailored to the needs and interests of both a broad and targeted stakeholder group.

5) Run two consultations in parallel with slightly different stakeholders in mind

Previously customers such as Leicester City Council often ran slightly different targeted consultations with stakeholders on service use. The ability to clone consultations now enables one consultation to be created for one target audience before a second is made and tweaked for a slightly different target group.

Are you a current Citizen Space customer and have a use for Survey Cloning which we haven’t thought of? If so, we’re always interested in hearing about innovative uses of our apps – please get in touch by emailing Rowena, one of our Account Managers, at rowena@delib.net.

 

Establishing Citizen Space & consultation standards – people, process & tools

Your Citizen Space instance is online and the first consultation has been built. What’s more, it has started receiving responses… excellent, but what next? How can your organisation fully adopt Citizen Space and maintain the positive start? Of course, every organisation is different, but I would argue that it all comes down to the right balance of people, processes and tools….

People, processes and tools source

Image taken from Seapine Software’s guide to “scaling agile for product teams

  • People – establish a consultation lead or Citizen Space advocate as the ‘go-to’ expert and individual on all things consultation.

    Customers such as Defra and Birmingham City Council have recently adopted a consultation lead. This individual gains full visibility on any up-and-coming consultations, catching their existence early and advising on structure to ensure quality and consistency. They also advocate the use of Citizen Space within the organisation, perhaps focusing on the app’s time-saving, value-adding nature.

  • Process – add standards to your organisation’s intranet & ensure staff have visibility on the existence of a consultation tool-kit, with Citizen Space a key part of this.

    Delib customers such as LB Hammersmith & Fulham and Staffordshire County Council raise the visibility of consultation standards on staff intranets, in meetings and via the newsletter. Stockport CCG have also ensured that Citizen Space is included as part of their existing Communication and Engagement Strategy.

    Alternatively, to help ensure consultations are of the highest quality, it may be useful to set up a consultation ‘check-list’ to act as a memoir for each time an online consultation is created:

    – Does the consultation include all of the key information that a respondent needs to produce an informed response?
    – Does the consultation include some contextual and visual information such as images or videos to make it more engaging?
    – Have the consultation questions been tested with a small sample group to ensure they make sense? Has the consultation flow been tested both online and offline?
    – Does the consultation have a key strategy and overall aim?
    – Have the questions and answer components been set up with reporting in mind and are there plans in terms of collating consultation results and feeding back to consultees?

  • Tools – Set up standard templates and ‘macros’ for consultation creation and reporting to help standardise the quality on this.

    Customers such as Rochdale Borough Council and Avon and Somerset PCC utilise a variety of the features & tools available in Citizen Space to improve their consultation processes. Our newly released survey cloning feature, for example, enables administrators to set-up pre-designed templates such as a ‘park satisfaction survey’ or ‘quarterly staff survey’ which can then be cloned, edited and re-published. For quarterly satisfaction surveys, results can then be collated outside of Citizen Space with reporting macros created and trends easily identifiable.

    Going to consultation can be expensive, and bad consultation can run the risk of jeopardising an organisation’s reputation. By ensuring that the right people, processes and tools are established and working in harmony around your Citizen Space instance, online consultation can be much more effective & efficient.

Social media record keeping for government – is it necessary?

The increasing use of social media by government agencies has not only altered how governments and the public interact, but the way governments conduct their business.

Agencies are using social media in a variety of ways: to deliver services, communicate information, coordinate resources in emergencies, and engage citizens and stakeholders in consultation processes.

There is no question that social media helps government to govern. Where there is some cause for concern however, is that when using social media applications government decisions are often influenced by or communicated via external web-based platforms or operated by third parties, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Online engagement tools like Delib‘s Citizen Space, Dialogue App and Budget Simulator are designed to be government records-keeping compliant, with all of the content from citizens and agencies readily downloadable in a format that makes record keeping easy.

Often though, government agencies using social media or other online engagement tools find themselves in the unprecedented position where the record of government decisions may not always be held internally, but owned and hosted by others. There is no guarantee these third-party hosts will keep or allow agencies access to these records indefinitely. In fact, you can almost certainly guarantee the opposite.

As a consequence agencies need social media records management policies and systems to capture and store these records themselves, just as they would any business decision made or communicated through other channels.

This sounds simple enough, but is it? The first challenge is in ensuring that staff using social media on behalf of their agencies understand what to record, and how. The second is to ensure that agencies know which tools they can use to capture these records.

A recent social media and record keeping survey conducted by NSW State Records found that 60 per cent of respondents were not capturing records of their social media interactions. The main reasons given where that they didn’t have the tools to do so, and that they didn’t think they needed to.

Each Australian state and territory has legislation requiring government agencies to keep comprehensive records of their activities. This legislation does not define a record by its format, and applies to all public records regardless of the technology used to create or access them. As such, records generated through the use of social media should be managed as part of existing record keeping frameworks.

Under such frameworks the obligation, as set down by the Australian Public Service Commission, is that all government agencies record information that provides evidence of key activities or decisions in a way that accurately preserves their context and significance, and store these records in a way that makes them easily accessible.

The difficulty many agencies face when it comes to social media record keeping is identifying when a social media channel contains information of importance that should be a matter of public record, and what to record.

To help, each state and territory has developed social media policies and guides to help employees navigate social media in regards to existing, legislated records management processes.

The Queensland State Archives’ Public Records Brief provides a useful checklist, stating that social media tools may contain public records if:

  • they contain information applicable to the purpose and works of the public authority that is unique and not available anywhere else (e.g. not duplicated from authority websites)
  • they are a primary source of evidence of a public authority’s policies, business, mission, etc.
  • they are used in relation to the public authority’s work
  • use of social media is authorised by the public authority
  • they provide information that is required as a business need.

A presentation from the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office clarifies this further and says that social media results in state records anytime it is used for government business, offering this helpful rule of thumb:

‘Responses to social media content created by agency staff as a part of their work, such as a comment on a blog post or a reply to a Tweet, are state records.

Any response received by agency staff—particularly where the responses feed into government policy or decision-making is a record. Irrelevant, off-topic responses can be culled under normal administrative practice’.

Context is perhaps the trickiest aspect of social media record keeping. How do you capture the context of a Facebook page? How should a Twitter trend be captured to ensure it is recorded accurately and in full?

The Victorian Government Public Record Office‘s social media record keeping policy makes the point that much of this boils down to risk management, assessing how sensitive and critical the interaction, or business need to which the interaction relates, is.

From there, it is up to the agency to determine if a social media post forms an accurate record on its own or if the context of the communication can only be understood alongside other users’ interactions.

So, once it has been decided to keep a record of a given social media interaction, what should it include? The general consensus from Australian state and territory policies is that the record should contain:

  • the content of any communication sent or received
  • the context of the communication i.e. why, who authorised the message, and the message purpose
  • date and time of the interaction
  • social media channel used
  • the format the content was sent or received in, i.e. video, text, photograph
  • the name of the communication creator/sender
  • the name of the communication recipient
  • any resulting decisions or recommendations made, and
  • the name of the authorising delegate.

Tips to remember

  • Government employees are required to keep full and accurate records of activities undertaken and decisions made in the course of their work.
  • Records management legislation does not define a record by its format.
  • You are not required to keep records of every single social media interaction. Some, such as ‘Likes’ or individual Tweets will be minor and not of any consequence. However, you do need to identify high-risk business operations and assess their level of sensitivity. The higher the sensitivity, the more crucial it is to identify what records will be necessary to act as evidence for your actions and decisions.

If you’d like to learn about different social media record keeping tools, stay tuned for our post: Social media record keeping for government –how to do it well.

How can online consultations engage hard-to-reach groups?

When running any public consultation, it’s important to gather a wide range of opinions from relevant citizens and stakeholders. Yet, it almost goes without saying that certain social groups are harder to engage with than others.

Although, if you consider why certain social groups are hard-to-reach, consulting online can only improve levels of engagement:

  • A lot of people are online. Specifically in the UK, the Office for National Statistics reported that over 85% of UK citizens had used the Internet, with access made easier by the expansion of broadband infrastructure, WiFi hotspots and mobile 3G networks. In other words, in the majority of cases, a significant proportion of your target consultees are likely to be online.
  • People are busy. Many individuals work long hours, have a fairly long commute and a significant proportion may also have kids to look after. These features of modern life then often becomes barriers to political participation. [1] Yet, hosting an engagement activity online helps these “time poor” individuals by giving them the freedom to participate over a significant period, and at a time which suits them, rather them requiring them to be free at a specific time or date.
  • People can’t always travel to participate. This is an issue for not only for the “time poor” but also those with little disposable income or mobility issues, such as disabled communities. Additionally, when Delib visited Western Australia, the benefits of digital democracy across such a geographically disparate area became clear. Hosting consultations online gives interested parties the freedom to participate anywhere they can find an Internet connection.
  • There’s a better chance of engaging with young people. The current generation of young people are often characterised as politically disengaged and therefore difficult to consult with. Yet, this group also happen to be extremely sophisticated at using the Internet. Whether young people are more likely to engage in political issues online is an area that needs more research but given that 42% of 15-24 year olds in the EU are using the Internet to express views on public issues (the highest percentage of any age group), the signs are encouraging. [2]

In addition, there are a number of ways that organisations running consultations can encourage participation from traditionally hard-to-reach groups:

References:
[1] Tonn, B.E. et al. (2011) ‘Community Networks or Networked Communities?‘, Social Science Computer Review, 19(2), p.202.
[2] European Commission (2013) ‘Flash Eurobarometer 373 – Europeans’ Engagement in Participatory Democracy‘, p.30.

A No-Nonsense Beginners’ Guide to Infographics

What are Infographics?

Infographics (a portmanteau of information and graphics) are a visually attractive way of displaying (often complex) data. An infographic can display a whole variety of data, from charts and graphs to timelines and flow diagrams.

In true Blue Peter fashion, “here’s one we made earlier”:

Government as a Platform (click to enlarge).

You can find plenty more examples and inspiration on websites showcasing infographics such as Visual.ly, Guardian Data (particularly good for political stats) and the Cool Infographics blog.

Why Should I Bother?

Given the popularity of visually-driven social networks such as Pinterest and Tumblr, infographics are a great way of gaining exposure. For instance, our Government as a Platform infographic received over 10,000 views on the graphic design showcase Creattica and has also appeared on the infographic gallery Powerful Infographic.

What if I Don’t Have Good Design Skills?

No problem! There are plenty of websites requiring little to no technical knowledge that can generate infographics out of your data.

Sites such as infogr.am, visual.ly and ease.ly provide a foolproof online interface for personalising a variety of pre-made layouts with your data. For interactive timelines, try Timeline JS or Wordle if you’re interested in creating ‘word clouds’.

Is There Anything to Keep in Mind When Creating Infographics?

Make the data interesting (but not too interesting!)

Have a think about what data would be interesting to your audience. For example, local councils would probably have plenty of interesting stats at their fingertips, from local budget numbers to crime figures to opinion polls. You could even share data from a recent consultation in an infographic.

However, interesting data may also be seen as “stuff you shouldn’t be sharing”, so remember to think carefully about the potential consequences of releasing that data to the public.

Obey the laws of statistics

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your infographic can be the most wonderfully-designed thing in the world, but disobey the laws of statistics and it becomes nothing more than a pretty picture. Irrelevant and misinterpreted data can be confusing for your audience and potentially embarrassing for you.

Some statistical issues are cleverly summarised by Rau Creative:

If you’re looking for a non-mathematical, common sense guide to mainstream statistics, I’d recommend having a read through of The Tiger That Isn’t.

Be sensible about colour schemes and fonts

In a similar way that having a great design and bad data is unhelpful, it’s equally problematic if you have great data and a bad design. Infographics need to be aesthetically pleasing to increase the likehood of being shared, but the design should make sure the data can be understood easily.

For eye-catching ideas and colour palette inspiration, try Colour Lovers or Adobe’s Kuler.

Also, remember to think about what fonts are appropriate to use. It’s nice to have a font that’s quirky and stands out but the novelty will be lost if viewers struggle to read it on a computer screen.

Finally, remember that no font is more controversial than Comic Sans. You have been warned!

How councils are crowdfunding community projects

Around the world, governments and government agencies are struggling to make ends meet. Some scrape by with what they’ve been allocated, but some are using innovative measures to raise money to make up for budgeting shortfalls. We are now seeing the dawn of government crowdfunding, and as this involves getting citizens truly engaged and excited about their communities, we’re all for it!

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding involves raising money for a project via a collective of individuals, promoted online or via local media, and people are invited to donate money towards the cause.

Online crowdfunding has been around for a while, and first began as a way for artists to raise money for various projects. It has evolved to encompass a huge variety of commercial and personal fundraising opportunities. Popular platforms that host crowdfunding ideas include Kickstarter (Global), Spacehive (UK), Indiegogo (Global) and Pozible (Aus).

Although it’s a relatively new form of financing, a diverse range of projects have already been funded this way, from innovative gadgets such as the Pebble Smartwatch to London’s first cat café. Yet, it’s not just small businesses and entrepreneurs that are crowdfunding. We’re increasing seeing that councils and community organisations are embracing it to replenish their budgets and finance new community projects.

Examples of Crowdfunding From Councils and Community Organisations

Mayor’s Fund – Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council are crowdfunding grants for local charities and social enterprises in as part of its ‘Mayor’s Fund’.

The grants for 2013/14 will fund work with disadvantaged young people and children in Bristol.

The Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson commented:

“We’re all feeling the impact of tough economic times. This impact is not, however, felt equally by all our residents and communities. Some are in greater difficulties than others and the disadvantages they face are deepening.

That’s why having a way to donate locally to help our city’s most disadvantaged people is important – and that’s why I have set up The Mayor’s Fund for Bristol.”

Free Public WiFi – Mansfield District Council

Mansfield District Council successfully used the crowdsourcing platform Spacehive to raise over £36,000 to install free WiFi in the Mansfield.

The funds will also be used to implement QR codes on signs and workshops for visitors on how to use/access WiFi in the town.

New York City Council & Kickstarter.com

New York City Council have launched an official page on Kickstarter to serve as a hub for crowdfunded community projects in low-income neighbourhoods.

Recently funded projects include an art school in Williamsburg, a rebuild of a restaurant damaged by Hurricane Sandy and a mosaic and mural at Newkirk Plaza Subway Station.

Power2Give – United Arts & Science Council

The Arts & Science Council in the US has launched the power2give website to exclusively crowdfund for local art, science and history projects from non-profit organisations.

The site is currently hosting projects for communities in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

Restoring City Centre Fountains – Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri has the second highest number of fountains in the world (only Rome has more). Around half of the 48 public fountains in are in need of significant repairs.

City of Kansas City had budgeted $250,000 towards repairs, but it is estimated that to repair just five of the fountains will cost over $1 million. Therefore, Kansas City’s The City of Fountains Foundation is looking to for the community to donate towards funding the repairs.

Pat O’Neill, a board member of the Foundation, believes the community will be willing to donate to the cause:

“We all love our fountains, but we often take them for granted. I think it’ll be well-received. Those fountains and our statuary are really signature pieces of our community.”

People want to help

Contributing to crowdfunding projects appeals to people who are passionate about the problem they will help to solve. People like to feel they are making a difference. They feel good when a target amount is raised for something they’ve contributed even a small amount to, and that project then comes to fruition.

Crowdfunding can be a great way to engage citizens and raise money for your organisation. Here are some other articles you may find interesting: