Crowd Funding is how Obama secured alot of the cash for his presidency bid, the first time. I'm very much a debutante at Crowd Funding, but I'm fascinated at the potential of the idea (i.e. giving ordinary people a simple way to support specific philanthropic projects without the need for large amounts of money, often with non-monetary bonuses for their participation).
I'm also trying crowd funding for the first time to try to raise the money we need to put up a wind testing tower to see if we have the wind it will take to power New Zealand's first community initiated wind cluster. We're working with our partners the Hikurangi Foundation using the PledgeMe crowd-funding platform (see our PledgeMe campaign here). What has been fascinating in this exercise has been learning some new web-tools (I know - most of you are far more web-savvy than I am - but remember, most people don't use the web for much and prefer face to face) - and also through the PledgeMe Platform, having people offer 'Rewards' to those who pledge cash. This aspect (Rewarding Pledgers) is to my way of thinking, a neat idea, as it allows supporters of whatever the cause is to offer something of value to make it easier to get the other thing needed, namely cash while we're in this transition period.
For those offering rewards, its also a way to offer valuable and appreciated support that isn't money - a small step towards the barter economy. Check out the diverse and useful rewards in our campaign for example. Yes, I am shamelessly promoting it but there is a bigger question here.
Is Crowd funding a way to fund transition initiatives? If you follow PledgeMe you can see that the vast majority of requests are for the Arts - and by all accounts crowd funding small films etc is a very popular and successful fundraising technique. I think the question really turns around the types of stories we can tell in the Transition movement, and raises more questions about how well we are able to tell those stories - are we telling them well at all?
Because what I suspect draws people to make a Pledge is the idea that they're making a positive contribution to make something even better, bigger, brighter or more. When I look at the projects on PledgeMe, there are very few 'community' projects or any that could be considered Transition - yet surely this is where much could be done? After all, we are in the transition to a new type of economy, yet we still need cash for some aspects of the transition - and how are transition projects funded at present? Often through strong volunteer efforts and sometimes a high degree of self-exploitation.
Story-telling is a key part of transition as is the development of a rich economy. Surely the Crowd Funding option is something that can be applied, through using and understanding transition tools, to help grow transition? The Blueskin Energy Project campaign to help develop the wind cluster is our attempt, and we'll know if we're successful by the 24th of Jan. Even if we're not, what I've valued is learning more about what makes things work - those rewards people offer, the stories we tell and the way we tell them, the new skills and relationships we build.