The benefits and challenges of using crowdfunding to facilitate community-led projects in the context of digital civics

Gooch, Daniel; Kelly, Ryan; Stiver, Alexandra; van der Linden, Janet; Petre, Marian; Richards, Michael; Klis-Davies, Anna; MacKinnon, Jessica; Macpherson, Robbie and Walton, Clare (2020). The benefits and challenges of using crowdfunding to facilitate community-led projects in the context of digital civics. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 134 pp. 33–43.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2019.10.005

Abstract

Digital technology is increasingly being used to bring citizens and communities together to address local concerns. While a variety of approaches have been developed that allow citizens and communities to improve their local communities, these approaches are often financially unsustainable. In this paper, we describe our exploration of crowdfunding as an alternative approach to funding and sustaining community-led projects in the context of digital civics. Through our analysis of four community-led crowdfunding projects, we explore the merits of crowdfunding in this context, demonstrating that it can a) provide an alternative funding mechanism suitable for financing some community-led projects, b) create a sense of empowerment and ownership, and c) increase community awareness. By reflecting on our experiences, we identify four key challenges to utilising crowdfunding to support community-led projects in the context digital civics. We also provide advice specific to crowdfunding in the context of digital civics, before discussing the role of crowdfunding within digital civics. By addressing these challenges, we will be able to better support community groups crowdfund for the public good.

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