Organizations involved in funding community initiatives or social enterprises now have a powerful new way to make their dollars go further and increase their community impact. This new approach is called “crowdmatching” and it involves organizations agreeing to match dollars raised by local residents for projects that make their communities better. While many organizations already stipulate that their offers of funding need to be matched by other sources of funding, crowdmatching is fundamentally different because the community decides (by voting with its dollars) which projects get funded, not the funding organization. This may sound like a small point but it is actually a fundamentally new way of engaging with the community in which funder, recipient organization and community all work as partners, instead of the funder deciding what is best for the community.
Crowdmatching has been successfully used to raised millions of dollars for community initiatives in the US, UK and Australia. However, in Canada it is still a relatively unknown concept. Below we describe how Crowdmatching has been successfully used by three types of organizations: governments, foundations and private businesses.
In this first case, the government establishes some high level funding criteria (e.g. the project must provide broad public benefit, must occur within their geographic boundaries, and so on). Community groups then propose projects that meet those criteria. The government then agrees to fund those projects on a dollar for dollar matching basis up to a certain maximum amount.
Seattle has completed 5,000 projects through its neighbourhood matching program. They provided $49 million in funds, which was matched by $72 million from the local crowd. Similarly, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has provided $3.6 million in grants for 110 community projects, which were matched by $4.3 million in crowdfunding from Michigan residents.
Foundations and grant-making organizations typically invite groups to submit applications for funding. These applications are viewed by their grants committee and the foundation decides which applicants get funding and how much money they receive. With crowdmatching, the foundation allocates a portion of its grant funding to go into a pool for community projects that meet certain high level criteria. Local groups propose projects that they most want to see in their community and contributions by the local crowd are matched by dollars from the foundation.
Wayblaze completed a successful crowdfunding campaign to refurbish the children’s area of the Gibson’s Libary with crowdmatching offered by the Gibson’s Public Library foundation. By offering to match funds from the community, they were able to multiply their foundation dollars three fold and reach their funding goal much easier then if they just pursued it on their own.
Many business see the benefit of helping to fund community initiatives and many financial institutions want to help fund progressive businesses. They can use a similar approach to government agencies and foundations by earmarking a certain amount of funds that the community can access on a crowdmatching basis. The can also create a competition where those projects or businesses that generate the greatest amount of community support get allocated the most funding dollars.
As an example, ING bank in Australia has used crowdmatching to provide $1.8 million in funding for 80 businesses for social impact business startups. Another lending agency called SEFA has used the crowdmatching model to provide loans to those entrepreneurs that can demonstrate the most community support for their business.
Let’s work together to make 2019 the year that Crowdmatching becomes a household word across Canada!