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: