1) Sustainability problem
Category: Civic Engagement
City governments constantly struggle to find stable revenue streams in order to maintain good public service delivery and invest in new infrastructure for the city. Most of the time, there are small projects that have support from both City Hall and citizens, but simply lack the necessary funds to be completed.
Enabling this same citizens to invest in their own communities and get the funds they need is a way to empower them, increase civic engagement and create real change.
2) Technology solution
- This article in CityLab describes how local governments are using crowdfunding to solicit donations to fund different projects. Companies such as Citizinvestor, a government-specific crowdfunding platform launched in 2012, act as middlemen between City Hall and citizen donors.
- After a project is posted on Citizinvestor, citizens can donate tax-deductible money to the projects they want. As any other crowdfunding platform, donators will not be charged unless the project reaches its full funding goal before the deadline.
- Once a project reaches 100% of its funding goal (or more), the project is built. Citizens that donated money can keep monitoring the project’s progress in the online platform until its completion.
- Apart from providing a template to create a website and a system for collecting donations, these platforms help public agents build an online marketing campaign for their projects.
- Donating to government crowdfunding campaigns gives citizens a sense of control about how their money is being used and the project they are funding. Paying taxes, on the other hand, feels like throwing dollars into the unknown.
3) Organizational stakeholders
- Local governments
- Advocacy groups
- Community organizations
4) Implementation steps
- Engage with local government officials in the city to show how this platform could help fund small and big projects that citizens want.
- Start campaigning one emblematic project for a community in the city, and use it as an example to prove the effectiveness of the platform to city government.
- Build over the momentum of the first successful campaign, positioning the platform as the solution for projects that have support from City Hall and citizens but lack the necessary funds.