September 26th, 2018
Crowdfunding For Environmental Change
Crowdfunding is a tool for sustainable innovation and community building that could end up making our neighborhoods safer, our country cleaner, and our democracy more vibrant.
Maybe there's an unsightly vacant lot in your neighborhood that needs cleaning up. Or maybe Hurricane Sandy or an ExxonMobil oil spill devastated your community. Whereas residents previously had to rely on the government to lend a hand or pick up their own rusty shovel, they are now granted another promising option: crowdfunding it back to health. Crowdsourcing capital doesn't just bring to market an innovative tech product or bring to theaters that movie you always wanted to be made; it also can catalyze environmental change on both hyper-local and global scales.
Last year an estimated 536 platforms collectively crowdfunded more than $2.7 billion. Stats like these spurred Congress to get into the act and put some regulation on the growing sector, helping to define and legitimize a model that has been at the cutting edge.
But how do you get others to donate to a cause you believe in? You need a story, argues media technologist and author Deanna Zandt. "Technology is a tool and only a tool," Zandt said. "Technology in the end brings people together. Technology is actually not isolating because what brings people together is the story—how people share stories, create emotional resonance, and create empathy."
Back when Zandt crowdfunded the 2010 release of her book Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking, Kickstarter was still in private beta. People were not talking about crowdfunding then and although Zandt was successful in her campaign, she got a lot of flak for it.
Looking around now, it seems like just about everyone we know is doing some form of crowdfunding.