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Civic Crowdfunding Looks to Bigger Projects with Phased Campaigns

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, March 5 2014

Civic crowdfunding dreamed big but started small. The platform Neighbor.ly grabbed attention for a 2012 campaign to help fund a multi-million dollar rail car in Kansas City, but only raised $3,775 of its $10 million goal. The early campaigns of both Neighbor.ly and Citizinvestor that were actually successful reached for modest goals, usually less than $15,000. A look at the campaign pages of either platform today shows larger projects, in the tens or hundreds of thousands, creeping in as well. Civic crowdfunding is growing. To facilitate and attract more large projects Citizinvestor this week announced a plan to crowdfund projects in phases.

"Municipal projects can be quite large and many of them can be broken into multiple phases," says Citizinvesor co-founder Jordan Raynor. Whether civic crowdfunding campaigns should be phased will depend on the success of Citizinvestor's experiment.

The company is introducing its new approach on a project to renovate the the Centennial Park playground in Okasha, Oklahoma. The project's first phase received $185,000 from the city and a federal block grant, the campaign is looking to raise another $108,000 by the beginning of June. The total will cover "a new state-of-the art play system, fall zone material, and other amenities around the playground area," according to Raynor. If the phase one campaign is funded, phase two will cover a new parking lot, amenities, and landscaping. While the equipment supplied by the first phase can exist on its own, Raynor, and the city is banking on the first phase's success compelling people to fund the second.

"By breaking our total project fundraising goals into smaller chunks, we believe citizens will be more likely to give," says Wayne Burns, Okasha's Director of Parks and Recreation.