The GFC saw the tide go out for many economies globally, exposing not only those who had been swimming naked, but dangers that were not evident in more buoyant times. Budgets that had previously been stretched, covering exposed areas, now shrank and funding was channeled to more needed initiatives. Whilst some countries suffered a loss of the bare necessities such as food and fresh water, all economies were forced to make funding cuts to health, education and public works. Crowd funding is now proving to be the bridge between the requirements of the community and the availability of government funding.
Third world countries, already struggling prior to the worldwide economic crisis of 2008, were now in a worse position as foreign demand for their domestic product had now seemingly evaporated, as had foreign aid. The provision of the basics such as food and water were difficult prior to the GFC, but become an impossibility without the little funding they were receiving from the government until that point. Crowd funding is now increasingly bringing order back to these countries, with projects like Opportunities For Life. Such projects connect with the passion of people around the globe to solve such issues, and provide the life necessities when a government is unable to do so for its own people.
First world countries are not exempt from such issues, albeit that their issues have less to do with the provision of life’s essentials and more to do with the provision of the needs of a healthy community. Cutbacks to schools and education are not uncommon, and crowd funding is again assisting education institutions raise the funding they require for equipment, infrastructure, external expertise, their cultural programs, and a raft of other initiatives from which governments have pulled funding. Schools, colleges and universities are rich in fans and followers, with students, alumni, staff and the local community all being prospective project supporters for the many crowd funding campaigns popping up to plug the whole left by governments withdrawing funding.
Healthcare also is now being subsidised by crowd funding, with campaigns like Bankrupt by Insurance Company and Choice for Maia raising funds to cover the gap between what public health will cover and the increasing out of pocket expenses that patients are left to pay as governments reel in the funding allocated to this sector. As more financial pressure is being placed back on the patients to find ways of funding their own treatment, an increasing number of people are being forced to look for alternative funding methods for their healthcare, and crowd funding is proving to be the way to successfully achieve the subsidy they need.
Funding for public works and community projects are usually amongst the first to suffer budget cuts from all levels of government. However, communities have found a new voice in crowd funding. In a show of the true democratisation of funding, perhaps the most famous of these was the crowd funding campaign conceived by Rotterdam design practice, Zones Urbaines Sensibles. Due to government cutbacks, the bridge which was to reconnect the city centre with the northern districts was going to be delayed. Given that the people could not wait, crowd funding became the way for the bridge to be financed in an alternative way so that construction could start decades earlier than otherwise possible. This project was the catalyst for many others to follow worldwide, and now crowd funding is no longer an alternative funding source, but a primary consideration for such works.
Sporting clubs have also felt the ire of government cutbacks, but they too are enjoying the benefits of projects made possible through crowd funding. Whether it be for equipment, to cover costs of touring, putting on an event, or for training needs, sporting campaigns such as SPC Gymnastics Parallel Bars and Conor and the Javelin demonstrate how crowd funding can unify people with a common passion to ensure that government cutbacks do not result in deserving people going without.
Crowd funding has proven to be timely. From third world nations to the economic super power of the USA, governments around the world are steering people to crowd funding to finance those projects for which the government is no longer able to provide funding. Testimony to this is the way in which the USA has implemented equity crowd funding, and expects it to bring $300bil in funding to small business and start-ups in its first year. Without one cent of this coming from the government, it has really made the administration of almost every nation around the world stand up and take note that crowd funding really is the way to fix disadvantaged and broken economies.