Rapid development in the city left many citizens feeling they had no meaningful way to shape their communities. City leaders found that citizen participation in existing opportunities for consultation with the city was low and negative views dominated the feedback they received. The city needed to find a way to harness community members’ ideas and integrate them into the regeneration of their neighborhoods.
The Solution: Crowdfund London
Citizens proposed community improvement projects via an online crowdfunding platform and made financial contributions to show support for ideas that improved the social good. The city offered design and planning advice, brokered relationships with stakeholders, and pledged up to £50,000 for promising initiatives.
How it Works
The city partnered with a local startup called Spacehive to create a crowdfunding site where citizens could pitch ideas and contribute to projects.
- Local organizations and community groups created project pages on the Spacehive website, including fundraising goals. The city organized events and provided worksheets and other materials, in addition to one-on-one support, to help set up fundraising campaigns for success.
- Residents contributed to projects with donations of £2 or more. If a project met the city’s goal to strengthen neighborhoods and received community support, it was eligible for a contribution from the city of up to £50,000 per project from a fund designated to support growth and community development in London.
- To be eligible for funds from the city, projects were required to be not for profit, located in greater London, and proposed by a local organization.
- City staff evaluated the project on the quality and originality of the idea, evidence of a clear plan for implementation, long term benefits, and the strength of support. The city focused on funding civic improvement projects, including initiatives that gave new life to an unused space, helped the local economy, or provided skills and opportunities to residents.
- If a project met its funding goal, the city provided advice and implementation support.
The city has backed 118 successful campaigns with £2.1 million, enabling a total of £4.8 million in funding for community projects.
- Fully funded projects thus far have included a formerly unused building that was turned into a community hub and cafe, a new market where teenage entrepreneurs can sell their goods, a community kitchen that can be used by local caterers and other small businesses, public art, and much more.
- The crowdfunding platform has increased transparency in the process of distributing the city’s development funds and helped them reached new constituencies. 14,000 residents have contributed to successful civic improvement campaigns. Many of those who received money from the city were accessing public funds for the first time.