We often hear local governments don’t have enough money to fund the projects citizens want, and that is often true. We also hear people complaining all the time about how governments never fund the projects they want to see in their communities. How can local governments and citizens work together to find the funds for projects they both want?
That’s where Citizenvestor comes in. Citizenvestor is a crowdfunding site which follows the momentum of other sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter, but it’s used by local governments and their official partners.
Localities post their City Hall and community supported projects on the site and ask local citizens to make tax-deductible contributions to the projects they care about. Projects do not start nor are donors charged unless a project is fully funded. Public coffers are usually limited and some projects rank low on the City Council priority list, so this is a way to fund those ideas that would otherwise be brushed aside.
I first heard about Citizenvestor in our GovLoop Guide from week 3. The guide describes Citizenvestor as a way to reveal budget priorities and allow citizens to lead the charge in getting funds for what matters most to them. When cities partner with Citizenvestor their programs are verified and it allows those donations to be tax deductible. GovLoop says municipalities which have used the platform have seen greater communication and collaboration between residents and their governments.
Holiday Park Dog Park- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
A Fort Lauderdale citizens recognized a need for a dog park in her neighborhood. She worked with the city council to obtain signatures to petition for the park, met with the council within 48 hours and established Citizenvestor as the crowdfunding source to use. The city raised $81,730 from 51 citizenvestors to construct the park.
Growing Plants and Lives @ Library – Newton, Catawba County, NC
The Catawba County library successfully raised $4,860 from 25 citizenvestors to begin a community garden aimed at growing healthy food, encouraging learning, and providing fruits and vegetables to citizens in need.
Bike Racks- Sunset Beach, NC
Sunset Beach, NC has raised $390 out of its required $648 to purchase and install a new seven-bike rack to be installed at one of its public beach access points, one of many it hopes to install. The city has 29 more days to connect with citizens and encourage donations.
Leslie Knope and Pawnee’s Department of Parks and Recreation explain why Citizinvestor is needed in municipalities across the U.S.
Crowdfunding is just one way to engage citizens who are already motivated to help their community, and it shows which projects have the community’s support. It is a low risk venture because projects are not pursued unless completely funded. As with many engagement strategies, this relies on citizens who are already invested in their communities, but it doesn’t reach everyone. Municipalities working with Citizenvestor need to insure they are engaging their full audience. Perhaps those citizens who are motivated to participate in this experience can act as liaisons between governments and those under-served populations.