2,526 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
The platform works by pairing up with municipalities and raising money for projects that have been approved by the local government but hadn’t been able to find funding to carry out the plans. On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced his city hall’s partnership with Citizinvestor, saying the initiative can help increase “civic participation in city government.”
The first project on the site is the “Philadelphia Fall Tree Planting,” which is looking to crowdfund the purchase of 15,000 trees and then distribute them among volunteers and business owners to plant around the city. Thus far, the project has raised around ten percent of its $12,875 goal – that’s less than one dollar per tree.
Donations to the project are tax-deductible; to sustain itself, Citizinvestor charges a five percent fee on the money raised (an additional three percent are added on top for Amazon’s payment processing).
Though the platform's crowdfunding service is live only in Philadelphia at this point, individuals from other cities and regions can post petitions on Citizinvestor. The hope is that successful petitions can be used as evidence to support future projects. In Philly, for example, one user is looking for 300 signatures to support bringing an enclosed dog park to the city’s Fairmount neighborhood.
Locally-focused, civic crowdfunding platforms like Citizinvestor have begun popping up in large numbers recently. In the second installment of our Crowded Room podcast, we discussed Neighbor.ly, which, too, has thrown its hat into the civic crowdfunding ring in Kansas City, Missouri. And we recently spoke with YoCoFund, which raises money for local projects (though it aims to fund businesses, too), and has a place for users to submit ideas on how to improve their communities. While all these platforms are confined to specific regions at this point, it will be interesting to see how quickly they can scale up and begin offering their services in more than just one or two municipalities.
Writing about the news, Joel Mathis of the Philly Post pointed out that crowdfunding local projects may benefit only communities whose members have money to donate, in effect increasing the wealth gap. Responding to this, Citizinvestor co-founder Jordan Raynor told Technically Philly: “It’s... important to note that municipalities have a set amount of money that is allocated to various civic projects across all socioeconomic groups and neighborhoods. If the projects in the wealthier neighborhoods are funded at a higher rate through Citizinvestor, this will only increase the portion of government funds that can be allocated to the projects in less affluent neighborhoods.”
The long-term viability of Citizinvestor (and, indeed, civic crowdfunding as a whole) remains to be seen. The first step on platform’s road to success? Getting the City of Brotherly Love's inhabitants to donate $11,500 more in the next 54 days for a greener Philadelphia.