Crowdfunding to become de-facto funding method for councils, says Future Cities Catapult

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

A report released by Future Cities Catapult, the UK government-backed centre for urban innovation, claims that in the future, crowdfunding will become the de-facto method to assign council resources and budget to local projects. This includes large scale community initiatives such as financing renewable energy schemes.

The report explores how cities could use crowdfunding as a tool to adopt and foster innovation and change along with its potential to revolutionise local democracy.

Forty-five councils across the UK are reported to be using crowdfunding, but, according to Future Cities Catapult, little work has been done to understand what it can offer communities with 90% of local authorities largely unaware of the domain and how it could apply to them.

Crowdfunding addresses the key city challenge of public authorities operating with structures that have been in place for decades, and their ridged and complex citizen engagement mechanisms. The report encourages cities to share knowledge, build partnerships and ultimately create an ecosystem where government, businesses and citizens can creatively collaborate.

Scott Cain, chief business officer at Future Cities Catapult, said: “Crowdfunding is not a new concept, and can be traced back to 1884 when over 120,000 micro-donations were made towards the Statue of Liberty. It’s a great solution to a very real problem and considering it as simply another fund-raising tool is to ignore its huge potential for citizen participation and practical democracy. The findings come at a crucial time as councils search for ways to ease pressure on council budgets, and community and voluntary organisations are finding ways to provide the same services with limited funds."

John Rossant, chairman of the NewCities Foundation, added: "It is essential that we rethink the way cities can unlock the energy and creativity of their residents to produce vibrant, successful public spaces.

“We see enormous potential in new tools such as civic crowdfunding that can make a real difference in the city and deliver communities' needs and aspirations if they are properly understood by city authorities, residents, and the private sector alike.

“The potential impact of leveraging the crowd in urban development may prove itself the new normal for working with communities to shape public space in cities. 'Crowd urbanism' may be an unstoppable force in how we make and re-make our cities."

According to Future Cities Catapult, the market civic crowdfunding is growing rapidly. In 2015, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance reported that, the UK online alternative finance market facilitated loans, investments and donations totalling £3.2bn.

The report is available for download here

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