Last week I wrote about a new site emerging out of beta testing in New Zealand. The site, called Loomio, There are a plethora of sites aiming to help organizations to crowdsource ideas. Loomio however wanted to also help with the implementation side of things. That they were doing all of this in the civic rather than commercial space made it even more interesting.
A similar initiative has recently launched to also tap into the energy and enthusiasm of local people to do things to positively impact their communities. The US site, called Crowdswell, aims to offer local people the chance to build support, both in terms of finances and labour, for their projects. They tag themselves as a a free market for doing good.
“Crowdswell addresses two important needs”, said Crowdswell founder and President, Eric Dahl. “It allows people to have a positive impact in their community, with relatively low commitment of time or money. And it creates earning opportunities for people who are willing to help supply the solutions.”
An interesting aspect of the project is that it is quite open about the possibility of projects obtaining corporate sponsorship. They hope that local companies will see the PR potential in supporting local projects and jump on board. Of course, some civic crowdfunding projects have suffered from this due to perceived conflicts of interest, which can undoubtedly muddy the waters somewhat, especially when companies can start their own projects, as they can on Crowdswell.
The site also aims to help police the implementation phase via a simple voting mechanism. So if the project wasn’t implemented correctly, or perceived to have been implemented correctly, by the backers, they can give it the Roman thumbs down. This then triggers the vaults to shut on the funding donated to the project by backers. Of course, this raises the question of how much of any money raised will be spent implementing the project, but it’s a nice idea to try and build some accountability into the system.
Current projects range from getting more street art in Austin to a running lane in Seattle to a $10 mill bridge in Spokane, WA to an urban dog park in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s an interesting site, and I feel it’s a positive thing that various different approaches are being undertaken to encourage greater involvement in local communities. The success or failure of the site will very much rely on its own implementation, but I certainly wish them luck. You can find out more via their website or check out their promo video below.