CROWDFUNDING PUBLIC GOODS: Funding With Beyond Funding Goals

This post was written by Tim Wright, Brodoto's guest blogger from twintangibles.

In October I had the honour of speaking at the Zagreb Crowdfunding Convention. It was the second edition of the event but a first visit for me and it quickly became apparent why it is becoming one of the must attend events for anyone interested in crowdfunding. Well attended by a diverse and international audience, in a great city and with a programme packed full of insight, experience and inspiring thought I heartily recommend it.

My small contribution was to speak on the subject of “Crowdfunding Public Goods - meeting the needs of citizens in SE Europe via crowdfunding when public bodies fail to do so.”

‍Tim Wright at the Zagreb Crowdfunding Convention 2016. Image: Brodoto

Broadening Terms

In economic terms Public Goods have a well defined meaning “a commodity or service that is provided without profit to all members of a society”. But the implication in the sub heading on topic I was asked to speak on is that we can go further than that and consider a more broad definition which encompasses the absence of a “good” that we think a public body could or should deliver. In this wider definition we can think of a very broad range of crowdfunding campaigns and platforms which already fall under this umbrella from Civic Crowdfunding, to aid for refugees, to funding legal cases that public prosecutors fail to take and so on.

In the context of a crowdfunding campaign this wider definition of a public good brings with it the need to explore the stance of the public body we believe should be providing the “good” in question.

Is there an absence of provision of the “good”, or are we seeking to extend or go beyond a provision, or possibly provide it in a different manner? It is also important to consider why this “good” is not being provided by the public body. Is it because they cannot provide it, or because they will not provide it?

The TAMP Process

These are important considerations because how we choose to construct a crowdfunding campaign and how we create our messaging and how we might explore the relationship with the public body as a partner or adversary rests, in large part, in this understanding.

With that in mind it means that crowdfunding for public goods is just like any other crowdfunding campaign in that we need to understand that a crowdfunding campaign is about much more than funding. Successful crowdfunding means making sure that you construct a campaign to deliver a range of outcomes over and above simply the money. To that end we need to understand precisely what we wish to achieve.

Which brings me to what seemed to be a popular item in the presentation. I briefly  mentioned a framework we use to help any and all crowdfunding campaigns to bring structure and rigour to their work. We call the process the TAMP process and it is a four step process which gives crowdfunders a method of making structured and manageable what can otherwise seem confusing and unmanageable.

TAMP is an acronym with each of the four letters representing a sequential step in the process:

T (Targets)

Establish and justify what you want from the campaign, which goes beyond funding.  

A (Audit)

Review what resources skills and assets you have to run a campaign and what gaps need to be closed.

M (Method)

Which of the many forms of crowdfunding is best for this project and, within that, which platform is best?

P (Plan/Prepare)

Building a proper project plan with timing and responsibilities to get the campaign done for the three phases of a campaign.

Delivering More Than Money

‍Crowdfunding Growth Intervention Model, Marom & Wright 2014

These steps apply in any campaign including those designed to address the provision of a public good. If we accept that crowdfunding can deliver more than money, in a public goods project what more might we want to be achieving? Campaigning on an issue, awareness raising, driving debate, engagement in shaping the service, levering in more funding? To run a truly successful crowdfund you will need to understand these aims and build a campaign which directly addresses them. Also, we must understand the stance of the public body so that we can manage the relationship to best effect, fully define our own targets to maximise the returns form a campaign, plan in a structured and thorough way, and be sensitive to cultural perspectives around the issue of public funding.

Zagreb proved to be a great and fulfilling trip for me and I hope to be back again. I hope you too can make it there as well, it is well worth it!