Using Crowdfunding to support local community projects

Create a "One County" crowdfunding platform.

No_avatar_small Submitted by Adam Whittaker
Shift Surrey Challenge - Turning ideas into action
How can we make Surrey an even better place to live?

The idea behind crowdfunding is that individuals can make donate money in advance over the Internet to help fund an idea or platform. It is a growing mechanism has been used widely across different sectors, and there is growing usage for funding public projects.

Projects are posted online, with a description of what the project is, what it's designed to achieve and the financial target that needs to be met to deliver the project.

One example of the potential that crowdfunding has was a project in Kansas City in the US, attracting over $400,000 from residents for a downtown bicycle-sharing programme. The success of the scheme was based on residents being able to make a tangible contribution to something that they were passionate about.

Surrey could adapt the crowdfunding model so that it enables residents to make either a financial contribution or otherwise to a local project. This would mean that those people who weren't in a position to make a financial contribution would still have the opportunity to participate in delivery of the project through, for example, volunteering.

Financially, there would not be a minimum expected contribution for each person - residents would put in place any amount they could afford that would contribute towards meeting the target. Funding for these projects could also come from any source - whether it's Members, staff, residents or partners - everyone would have the opportunity to make a personal contribution.

This idea could: - Increase levels of resident engagement with the Council. The opportunity to contribute to the success of a project in their local area could motivate residents to participate further. This in turn could lead to improved relations between the council and partners as a spirit of trust and cooperation is fostered. - Generate savings for the council and partner organisations. Diversification of funding streams for projects and inviting people to make a personal financial contribution could generate savings. This could be beneficial for more than one organisation if the project is a joint endeavour. - Contribute to promoting a "one team" vision. If this platform is shared across all public services in Surrey, there could be potential to promote projects with multi-agency involvement, whether it's between county and district/borough councils or with police or NHS services.

I would suggest that the projects this idea could be tested on are smaller in scale in the first instance to check if the scheme works as intended. Crowdfunding is not a means by which the responsibility for funding public projects is shifted to the online community. The funding could be used to supplement revenue spending on projects that benefit from Member allocations or the Community Improvement Fund.

This idea is different as it takes the crowdfunding concept, but expands the means and methods by which people can participate so that it doesn't marginalise residents that can't contribute financially and isn't perceived as delivery of projects that favours a particular subsection of society. It could help strengthen engagement with residents and contribute towards the council's corporate objective of building strong and vibrant communities.