In times of flood, fire, tsunami and other natural and man-made disasters, the broader community is called upon to give to the relief effort. But much of the “effort” to be initiated is undefined, and the progress of fund raising for this effort is largely withheld from the public. Crowd funding now offers the crowd the ability to direct their funding to relief packages that they feel most passionate about, whether it be rescuing animals, addressing the personal human toll, or projects to fix infrastructure.
For many who support relief programs, they give generously, but they do not know how their money is allocated. If we take the recent Bundaberg Floods, there were numerous flood relief appeals run by government, charitable, and private organisations. Most of these were fairly generic in their approach, with the public asked to give to flood disaster relief rather than specific remediation projects. Would it not be more engaging to have projects with which the public could better relate? Surely if projects were broken down into categories that resonate with the passion of the giving public, the public would be more engaged to give and to become advocates for the campaign.
Crowd funding not only breaks down the relief effort into projects, but also allows the public to see how fund raising is going against the requirements to fund the specific initiative. Such transparency would allow people to see how fund raising is progressing to rehouse displaced families, or rebuild local schools. Their fervour could be piqued to push for the last few remaining dollars required to clean certain houses, o r buy the effected school the new books they need. The public is empowered and engaged to promote the funding campaign to their networks as the pressure (or excitement) mounts to raise the final dollars required to meet the target within the funding timeframe.
Crowd funding platforms such as Queensland-based iPledg makes it possible for those seeking funding for disaster relief to engage the crowd by raising money for specific projects. The crowd can then give to the campaign that best touches their heart. The crowd can watch how the campaign progresses during the funding campaign, and get involved by further promoting “their” campaign to networks on social media or email databases. It is true direct involvement and engagement.
Project creators with their specific disaster relief campaigns also become more accountable. Relief projects are properly costed, and the crowd engaged to raise precisely the monies required to make the project happen (although it is still possible for campaigns to be overfunded if the crowd feels it is warranted). The monies raised are then spent where they need to be, and where the crowd has wanted it to be spent, rather than disappearing into an unaccounted-for pot of funds. Monies are not loosely allocated as determined by administrators, but right from the start the crowd has a say in what relief projects will actually initiated simply by the projects they support. It is real governance of the community by the community.
Truly global sites like iPledg allow for broader engagement, with the need for assistance being able to be spread to a worldwide audience more easily, and enabling a connection with anyone anywhere in the world to support a campaign specific to their interests.
Crowd funding now presents a wonderful and powerful opportunity for funding specific funding relief programs, with transparency and accountability that engages a caring public and allows them greater ownership and involvement in helping communities get back on their feet – more quickly, more effectively , and with greater involvement from an engaged crowd.