Rodrigo Davies


Thoughts on Neighborly, civic crowdfunding and the future of community development

Crowdsourcing to fill gaps left by UK councils

26 Mar 2012

Spacehive

A private sector group in the UK has set up what it's calling "the world's first funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects" in order to fill the gap left by cuts in local council spending.

Spacehive.com allows local community leaders, businesses and individuals to suggest projects and seek funding via its website - its champions thus far include Stephen Fry and entrepreneur Martha Lane-Fox, with corporate backing from the likes of Tesco, Admiral and Deloitte (Deloitte co-developed the funding model). The British Property Federation, also backing the scheme, has estimated that state spending on public projects like parks and recreation facilities has halved since the recession, to around £250 million a year.

The first Spacehive project is a community center for the ex-mining town of Glyncoch in South Wales - a £792,000 project. The largest donation was £12,000 (given by Tesco), while the center attracted funds from as far away as Newfoundland, from where a donor of Welsh descent pledged £100.

It'll be interesting to see where this platform goes - and what the government and public agencies think about it. Is this the elusive Big Society? And is it really the world's first funding platform for neighbourhood projects? There's certainly a long pre-internet history of this type of work; it'll be interesting to see how crowdfunding fits into that.