Civic Crowdfunding – Matching with European Union Funds

“The research was developed within the Interreg Central Europe Crowd-Fund-Port project. It intends to give a contribution in increasing policy capacities by exploring the complementary use of EU funds and national/regional funds to match Crowdfunding. Its main goal is to investigate the subject of Civic Crowdfunding, together with the possibility for using public funding to match Crowdfunding. The first, more theoretical section of the study consists in an analysis of the literature on Alternative Finance, Crowdfunding and specifically Civic Crowdfunding, with the presentation of relevant best practices across the European Union. The second, more empirical part is dedicated to a field research conducted in central Europe: surveys were sent to local and national institutions, universities as well as to Crowdfunding platforms and representatives of the third sector.

Civic Crowdfunding is aimed at raising money specifically for public endeavours thus giving citizens an opportunity to donate to projects that matter most to them. It is an emerging field that has already helped to achieve a wide range of public interest projects, from social and environmental innovation to urban commons.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis almost a decade ago, local and regional European authorities have been witnessing not only an increase in challenges but also a reduction in their budget. If it is true that Civic Crowdfunding is still an emerging field, it is also true that it already represents a significant opportunity to create new collaborations between citizens, civil society organizations and local governments in order to promote sustainable and inclusive local development.

The current revision of the cohesion policy offers more room to increase civic participation and citizen active involvement as well as it highlights the need to implement EU financial instruments more efficiently. New financing schemes and their interaction with traditional funds can facilitate the achievement of the goals set by the EU not only in the framework of the cohesion policy, but also in other policy areas. Benefits of civic Crowdfunding within the scope of structural funds are several:

– as for the financial benefits, match-funding is able to provide an additional share of private resources maintaining, at the same time, the strategic priorities identified by the European Commission and Member States. Furthermore, the allocation of ESI fund could benefit from an increase in transparency and efficiency, since citizens play a primary role in the selection of the projects;

– with regard to visibility, citizen would be more aware of the cohesion policy and, not less important, of the European Union in general. In addition, also Crowdfunding platforms could benefit from being recognised as an instrument playing a key role of intermediary in enabling a wide range of benefits in the regions involved;

– coming to citizen engagement, they would be included in the decision-making and allocation of funds, being able to communicate firsthand their perceived priorities in their region. At the same time, the Crowdfunding industry still suffers from different barriers and shortcomings, such as, for instance, the uncertainty about the legal framework under which this tool is regulated in different Member States.

Crowdfunding represents a catalyst for social innovation and an effective tool to finance relevant projects and to double public funds through match-funding. More in depth, Crowdfunding has a strong local dimension, which is directly connected to regional and local authorities, which are in the position to address local needs, develop inclusive and democratic financing models and encourage private investments. In this context, Crowdfunding can be used as a match-funding tool and can intensify the impacts produced though public funding as ESIF; both the European Commission and the European Parliament have in fact promoted the use of Crowdfunding as an innovative financial instrument. EU can contribute to mutual understanding between authorities and the Crowdfunding industry; at the same time, regional and local authorities can contribute in assisting the EU in implementing its actions, disseminating knowledge on Crowdfunding to the general public and launching pilot experiments.”

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What is Civic Crowdfunding?
Civic Crowdfunding is aimed at raising money specifically for public endeavours thus giving citizens an opportunity to donate to projects that matter most to them, and supporting local development and communities.

Which are the Civic Crowdfunding best practices across Europe?
Civic Crowdfunding have multiplied over the last few years. Most of the best practices are located in UK and Belgium. There are also different good practices in France Germany and Italy. Particularly interesting is the UK pilot project in match Crowdfunding for arts and heritage with the support of Nesta.

How can Crowdfunding intensify the impacts produced through public funding?
Civic Crowdfuding leverage private funds for public interest projects, from social and environmental innovation to urban commons. Civic Crowfuding could also be matched within other financial instruments. Besides Civic Crowdfunding represents an effective instrument for community building through individual engagement, allow citizens to act a primary role in the selection of projects to be funded and it also would increase efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in the funds allocation.