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Civic Crowdfunding ‘“ A Guidebook for Local Authorities

Crowdfunding is increasingly being used by cities’ local authorities, usually refered as ‘Civic crowdfunding‘, aiming to democratise the way places are created and funded: from’Civic crowdfunding new street markets and revamped playgrounds, to gardens planted on derelict railway lines.This report by Future Cities Catapult studies the progress of the first wave of local authorities making use of this approach, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of it.

Civic crowdfunding

‘Civic crowdfunding’ is a sub-type of crowdfunding through which citizens, in collaboration with government, fund projects providing a community service or deliver public value through a local-area-improvement project. Usually, project ideas come from the crowd and are placed on Internet-based platforms, where potential funders are able to search and make financial contributions to projects that resonate with their areas of interest or values. Together, these actions represent a new model of community involvement, allowing citizens to take an active role in the physical improvement of their neighbourhoods.

In general, most crowdfunding projects do not build infrastructure such as bridges or roads, or fund city services such as waste disposal. They are small scale and aim to build community gardens on vacant plots of land or fund community events. In this context, it is argued that civic crowdfunding should be seen as a way of ‘widening the funnel’ of funding and as a tool to finance small, citizen-led projects to build social resilience and rejuvenate urban areas.
Fig. 1. The value of urban development. Source: Current report.

This report provides:

  • An overview of the various types of civic crowdfunding financing models, the types of project that are typically funded and how civic crowdfunding fits among traditional funding sources.
  • A detailed analysis of the various quantifiable and unquantifiable, economic and social benefits delivered by civic crowdfunding initiatives.
  • A generalised account of the path local authorities typically traverse when adopting civic crowdfunding approaches including the actions and activities that an authority is required to take at each phase.


1. Background
1.1 What is civic  crowdfunding?
1.2 What are the  key characteristics  of civic crowdfunding  projects, campaigns  and movements?
1.3 Where does civic crowdfunding fit amongst  traditional institutional  funding models?
1.4 What crowdfunding models are appropriate for civic projects?

2. Why are local authorities adopting civic crowdfunding?

3. How can local authorities get involved?
3.1 Phase 1: Passive observer
3.2 Phase 2: Active supporter
3.3. Phase 3: Catalyser of activity
3.4 Phase 4: Confident leader
3.5. Summary

4. Common concerns and barriers to adoption
4.1 What are the potential issues with  civic crowdfunding?

5. The future
5.1 What is next for civic crowdfunding?

6. Conclusion

Concluded, the authors argue that:

Looking to the future, crowdfunding has the potential to revolutionise community engagement processes, giving citizens a more participatory role in civic affairs. Over time, this approach is likely to move from a small-scale experimental exercise into a core method for community engagement across the council’ s portfolio of responsibility.