Tag Archives: civic crowdfunding

Why do crowdfunding campaigns fail?

All the buzz surrounding crowdfunding can make it seem like some kind of magical cash machine: put your idea online, tweet a few times, and watch the money roll in. What could be so hard about that? Everyone’s doing it!

It’s true that there are many thousands of active crowdfunding campaigns online at any given time, but plenty of them will fail to reach their goal. The last time we checked, Kickstarter’s full-funding success rate was about 40 percent; Indiegogo’s was about 12 percent. ioby’s? We’re sitting pretty at 80 percent!

We think our project leaders are so successful because with ioby, you won’t be tempted to just set up a page and let the money roll in (because trust us, it won’t). We provide the coaching and support for you to plan, build, and market your own campaign both on and offline to build donor interest and trust. Then (and only then) you’ll see the Benjamins.

Of course, any crowdfunding campaign can fall short of its target. In the past decade, we’ve supported over 1,600 local leaders in raising over $5 million to improve their neighborhoods. But between those many awesome successes, we’ve noticed some common missteps made by campaigns that don’t hit their mark. Fortunately, these gaffes are all avoidable. Continue reading Why do crowdfunding campaigns fail?

Six crowdfunding myths grassroots groups fall for

In the past decade, online crowdfunding has gone from experimental technology to budgetary mainstay.

In the beginning, crowdfunding was an intriguing new approach that individuals and grassroots groups could try as a way of gaining support for their work. Now, it’s become a cornerstone of countless project budgets for both unincorporated initiatives and established nonprofits that brings in tens of billions of dollars annually. Continue reading Six crowdfunding myths grassroots groups fall for

Funders! Matching crowdfunding campaigns gets your money closer to the ground

Health foundations exist to improve the wellbeing of the communities they serve. That’s why their grantmaking is often focused on local nonprofit organizations. And that’s great.

But did you know there’s a way for foundations to get their funding even closer to the ground, and encourage more community engagement in health initiatives—while helping to generate additional money for beneficial programs and projects?

All these things are possible when foundations leverage the benefits of community crowdfunding to boost the impact of their efforts and dollars.

Continue reading Funders! Matching crowdfunding campaigns gets your money closer to the ground

Winter fundraising: How to get attention & dollars for your project after the holiday rush

Toward the end of each year, many Americans give more than thanks and gifts.

As you’re likely aware, the six-or-so winter weeks between Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) and the start of the New Year is when one third of annual giving takes place. Despite a fairly disastrous news year in 2017, donors remained energized, and gave even more generously this past “giving season” than the one before.

That’s great news, but it does beg the question: what happens once that holiday rush is done? How can people and organizations trying to better their communities still fundraise effectively once giving season is over and it’s just plain old boring winter for the next few months? (Or maybe for you it begs the question: “I started this project, but now I’m wondering if the timing is all wrong. Help!”)

Continue reading Winter fundraising: How to get attention & dollars for your project after the holiday rush

MIT Report on Civic Crowdfunding

The leadership team at ioby wants to take this opportunity to commend Rodrigo Davies on his excellent, recently published research on the emerging field of civic crowdfunding. We’re grateful to have had the chance to work with him and share our work in his research process over the last two years. He’s taken the field a huge step forward, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Thanks also to Salon.com, Rockefeller Foundation, FastCompany and Next City, for contributing recent stories on the topic (by the way, to those Next City readers who decide to crowdfund your urban chicken farm, here’s a video, on how to start your urban chicken farm once you’ve crowdfunded it on ioby).

As the first U.S.-based civic crowdfunding platform and the civic platform that has supported the largest number of projects to date, we wanted to take this opportunity to share our opinions on a few of the challenges that Rodrigo has raised, and respond with a few case studies of our own.

In his blog announcing his report, Rodrigo raises two important questions that ioby leadership has some pretty strong opinions about. They are “Will civic crowdfunding deter public investment or encourage it?” and “Will civic crowdfunding widen wealth gaps?”

To the first question, thus far, ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform only suggests that our successful campaigns encourage public investment, and greater investment of all kinds. ioby campaigns, because they are funded by neighbors, implicitly demonstrate community buy-in, support and long-term stewardship. Supporting an ioby campaign is akin to a petition, where instead of signing your name, you give $35. It’s a powerful reminder to decision makers in public investment how difficult it is to assess whether communities truly support new projects.

Rodrigo’s second question is a little more complicated. Crowdfunding, even all $6B worldwide, is a relatively small portion of overall financial transactions, so it’s hard for us to assess a claim about wealth gaps at this time. But, taken at the neighborhood scale, it’s an interesting question. ioby projects are required to have a public benefit, so no matter who from the neighborhood gives to a project, the entire neighborhood can benefit. In some sense this could be considered a transfer of wealth from private assets to public assets within the same community. Rodrigo’s paper speaks to this definition of civic crowdfunding in terms of the production of the public good at length (beginning on page 28). But, having a public good accessible to all residents of a neighborhood, isn’t the same thing as increasing wealth or access to wealth (or decreasing either).

For now, the best we can do to answer the question is explain how ioby operates to in terms of a wealth dynamic in communities. ioby’s mission is to deliver resources (timely, right-sized funding) into the hands of civic leaders at the neighborhood scale undertaking projects for positive change. We work intentionally to support leaders in underserved neighborhoods, and the majority of ioby projects are in neighborhoods with average household incomes at or below the poverty level, led by residents of those neighborhoods, funded by the residents of those neighborhoods. Grounded in asset-based community development, ioby’s foundational principles are that residents of communities know what’s best for their neighborhoods and are the best equipped to design, implement, and steward local solutions. In addition, we believe that funding by neighbors is an important civic engagement tactic, source of personal accountability, and source of patient capital — the community itself.

And finally, no ioby projects were selected as case studies, but some speak to some of the questions Rodrigo has raised.

  1. In Next City’s September 2012 Forefront, When We’re All Urban Planners, you can read about a resident-led urban chicken farm in Cypress Hills Brooklyn, supported by the Verde program at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, which was supported by a match campaign from the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.
  2. We think an important use of crowdfunding is responding to urgent needs, like the ioby campaign Muckraking the Mayflower Oil Spill, a collaboration between the Arkansas Times and InsideClimateNews.com, who raised $26k to put two reporters on the ground in Mayflower, Ark, during a particularly underreported oil spill. The results of their work were notably a state-wide health inspection of affected families which found exposure to hazardous fumes significant enough that the State of Arkansas brought a lawsuit against Exxon Mobile. Read the story here.
  3. The tactical urbanism project, the 78th Street Play Street, is a great example of building civic engagement. Watch Erin Barnes speak about this case study at Poptech’s City Resilient.
  4. The Hampline, a state-of-the-art, two-way, protected and signalized bike lane in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee is an excellent example of civic crowdfunding and public investment used together, and of civic crowdfunding used as leverage to secure additional private funding. You can read all about it in the Memphis local paper the Commercial Appeal.

And finally, if you’re still reading, we do want to build on and underscore a few points from Rodrigo’s massive tome. First, ioby’s name is written in all lower case because our name comes from the opposite of NIMBY, and because ioby is a place for resident-led, neighbor-funded projects in public spaces that make neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable. We’re a mission driven 501(c)3 non profit organization dedicated to working in underserved neighborhoods. Our goal is to provide access to untapped source of patient capital – the community itself – and to amplify local work to a national audience in those communities that often have a greater number of local challenges and fewer resources available with which to address them. Our fundraising training program teaches communities to pool funds as startup or demonstration funding that can be leveraged to access other funds.

All of this is to say that ioby’s work is defined by collective grassroots action, working from the ground up, thus the all lower case name, the lowest median project budget size ($1,725) and ioby’s average donation amount (just $35).

ioby serves neighborhood residents. ioby Leaders must be residents in the neighborhood of their project. And most ioby Donors live within a couple miles of the project site. But we do work with governments, and have a long history of working with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, the Miami-Dade County Office of Sustainability and the City of Memphis Office of the Mayor and Shelby County Office of Sustainability. We strive to work as a flexible facilitator to recognize the role of community leadership in meeting municipality goals and to expedite citizen interactions with governing agencies. We believe crowd-resourcing, as ioby defines it, can be a useful listening tool for government to understand where its citizenry’s interests and concerns are. In addition, we’ve just published two guide books for citizens working for change in Miami-Dade and in Memphis.

And finally, in response chart on page 40 in Rodrigo’s report, we want to mention that ioby’s tax-deductible donations are available to individuals and organizations not associated with a 501c3 by acting as a fiscal sponsor, most closely like a Type C fiscal sponsor (details here).  For a complete list of ways that ioby differs from similar platforms, check out our blog on the topic.