In our travels, we often find terrific community programs that have been halted, primarily for the common reason of lack of funds. Despite passion and the greatest of intentions, community programs often don’t have the legs (financially) to see through the work they were set up to do. Crowd funding, if properly embraced, now gives community programs the chance to not only raise the required funding to undertake projects and continue providing the services they offer, but to engage the very communities they serve.
The types of community projects to which crowd funding can add benefit are endless. There are the programs aimed to help youth, the aged, the homeless, animals, sporting clubs, and environmental causes. Projects for these types of causes are flourishing as the economy tightens and the need for community assistance increases. Governments are increasingly under resourced and underfunded to fully support the sectors of the community that truly require their assistance. In addition, there may be political implications for supporting one cause over another, so governments are tending to err on the side of caution, and ironically opt to focus their budgets into areas other than community service (I say “ironically” as it was the community who voted them into government in the first place!). It is falling back into the hands of the community themselves to implement and fund the necessary activities required for a healthy and balanced society.
Community projects are never short of fans or supporters, and those who can pledge their support to a campaign. Many will make their pledge based around the benefit derived by the outcome of good community projects. Others need some further inducement to tender their cash toward such campaigns. It is in putting these rewards together that community projects can further engage with their “crowd”. Supportive businesses can offer to project owners some of the rewards that can be offered as incentives for people to pledge support to a campaign. In doing so, project owners are able to leverage greater returns than the actual cost of contribution (that is, the amount pledged is far greater than the cost to the business to donate the reward). In addition there are the underlying economic benefits to the community as businesses contribute rewards to a campaign – local businesses are promoted, money is kept within the community, the local economy is boosted, and each addition to local business benefits local employment in some way.
But it is in the area of spreading the word that the people really start to come together. Communities start to embrace a feeling of oneness as a community-based campaign can bring people together. A sense of ownership and of localised benefit can really create “buy in’, and get the word spreading quite quickly. Communities start to work together and get quite creative in publicising a campaign. Local media supporting local people tend to get involved quickly to showcase positive action by local residents, and help build initial momentum by regularly promoting the benefits to locals that the project will deliver. This creates a groundswell, a movement, that eventually gathers momentum and a life of its own, making success almost guaranteed.