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Is Crowdfunding's New "It Girl" Creating a Generation of Citizen Philanthropists?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 16 2013

“I went on a shopping spree in July and spent four million dollars on girls and women,” Maz Kessler says proudly. As the founder and creative director of Catapult, a start-up nonprofit organization that helps development projects for women and girls get funding, she has every reason to boast. Catapult, a crowdfunding site that insists on transparency and engagement with donors, is one of several organizations changing the world of philanthropy. Launched on the first International Day of the Girl, in October 2012, the start-up has already seen impressive results.

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WeGov

To Fund a Political Rally, French Politician Turns to the Crowd

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 20 2013

Patrick Mennucci, on the Ulule page for Pour Marseille 2014.

Platforms like Kickstarter have gotten citizen activist movements off the ground around the world. Yet in Marseille, France, this week, a local official started a funding campaign for a political engagement rally in the city, in what may be the one of the first instances of a political office using a commercial crowdfunding site. Read More

Mosaic Is Using Crowdfunding To Refinance Solar Energy

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, January 25 2013

Mosaic, a crowdfunding venture focused on solar projects, was able to raise over $300,000 in its first 24 hours to fully fund its first public investment projects, according to Lisa Curtis, communications director at the company. Mosaic's goal is to advance clean energy investment the same way Kickstarter funds new inventions and artistic endeavors, allowing individuals to take a new kind of collective action — with the politics of the pocketbook. "If we can get more people to invest in the clean energy economy," Curtis said, "then we could have more people benefiting from this transition." Read More

WeGov

Israeli Transparency NGO Shows Voters How to Cast Informed Ballots

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, January 3 2013

Screengrab from Open Knesset website

As Israelis prepare to cast their ballots in national elections on January 22, the country's only transparency NGO has launched a campaign to encourage voters to educate themselves by consulting their Open Knesset website, where they can find previously unavailable information about how their legislators are doing their jobs and whether they are representing their constituents as they would wish to be represented. Read More

Freedom of the Press Foundation Created to Crowdsource Funding for WikiLeaks

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, December 17 2012

Freedom of the Press Foundation Logo (via Boing Boing )

Supporters of WikiLeaks have founded a nonprofit that will provide crowdsourced funding to the anti-secrecy organization and other public interest journalism ventures, it was announced Sunday. Read More

Some Cities Hope Crowdfunding Will Help Them Stop Sweating the Small Stuff

BY Sam Roudman | Monday, December 10 2012

As crowdfunding platforms finish their first experiments, some best practices begin to sprout. Photo: Alex Indigo / Flickr

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Crowdfunding platforms in some cities are far enough along that officials there are starting to see when they do and don't work. Here are experiments that seek to fund civic projects through small online donations, and when are or aren't successful. Read More

From SeeClickFix to Citizinvestor, Five Years of Internet-Enabled Urbanism

BY Cody Lyon | Wednesday, October 17 2012

Can technology help citizens make their cities better? Photo: Myrtle Avenue Partnership

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: In 2007, SeeClickFix drew wide attention for the way it put all a city's civic problems — graffiti, potholes and the like — out in the open for anyone to see. It wasn't the first or only tool to do something like this, but it made people notice what would become the emerging field of civic software. In the five years since, that field has grown and changed. SeeClickFix is still alive and kicking, but now it's joined by a host of companies, platforms and experiments that don't just map problems — they now map solutions. Read More

In Philadelphia, an Experiment in Funding Civic Projects

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, September 13 2012

Photo Illustration: Citizinvestor

Sadly, money does not grow on trees. But a new Kickstarter-style platform's first project is based on the idea that maybe the reverse can be true.

Citizinvestor, a platform to crowdfund civic projects, officially launched Wednesday in Philadelphia with its first project: TreePhilly, a campaign led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with Wells Fargo and Fairmount Park Conservancy, to plant trees throughout the city. The project partners are asking the good people of Philadelphia to put up $12,875 towards the idea in the next 59 days. So far 18 backers have given a total of $555.

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Is Crowdfunding the Right Way to Pay for Public Space?

BY Nick Judd | Monday, August 13 2012

Using crowdfunding to pay for civic infrastructure like parks and public spaces is innovative, but Ethan Zuckerman argues that it may set the wrong precedent. Read More

Three Kickstarter-Inspired, Civically Minded Crowdfunding Sites

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 31 2012

The idea of public-private partnerships to fund projects like parks or public transit has been on the upswing. In New York City, for example, non-profits work with the city to fund programming in three major parks, and a public-private partnership allowed the city to fund the construction of its now-famous High Line park on an old elevated rail spur. A team hoping to pitch the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority on turning an unused section of its underground subway network into another park raised initial funding on Kickstarter.

That last success, and others like it, have spurred several entrepreneurs to develop Kickstarter-like websites devoted specifically to funding civic projects. They're not the only ones looking online to renegotiate the relationship between cities and citizens — over the past year, a piece of software called ChangeByUs has evolved over time into a platform for cities to help introduce citizens to one another in the hopes that they'll organize around smaller-scale projects — but they're certainly among the most ambitious.

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