On October 2nd, Launcht was the featured guest for the United Nations Development Programme, which works across cultures to help further develop nations by creating proactive models for withstanding crisis and driving sustainable growth. The Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group of the Bureau for Development Policy invited Launcht to speak about the state of crowdfunding and the ways in which it can be utilized by the United Nations Development Programme in the future. To hear the entire presentation click here.
CEO Freeman White spoke to the idea that crowdfunding is not simply a buzzword in today’s world; it is a tool that can be deployed to address social issues in both an international and local context. He began by describing crowdfunding itself saying, ”Crowdfunding is used to tell a story and tell that story to convince people that there’s something worth funding. And that story can be generated by a large institution, it can be a story generated by a small farmer, it can be a story generated by an entrepreneur. But that story is what captivates people, proves that the need for funding is relevant, it’s immediate, and it’s evocative, and that relevancy, immediacy and how evocative the story is are pretty much the strong drivers for what will actually lead to successful crowdfunding.” He points out the scalability of crowdfunding and its use as a storytelling tool. Telling the story engages people in the project and brings them together in a way that only stories can. Crowdfunding is simply the mechanism for bringing these people together. In this way, crowdfunding can be used not only to generate funds, but also to create a community around a cause or an event.
The “crowd” involved in crowdfunding is “anyone on the internet,” he says, which makes it the perfect tool to reach across nations as mobile technology and accessibility increases. This is not a tool just for the United States or the EU–it’s being used everywhere, and when projects go viral they can cross cultures. He noted a few projects that utilized both crowdfunding and crowdvoting to help communities as small and specific as Nairobi, Kenya or as large and varied as all of India..
He also notes that crowdfunding can be utilized beyond the scope of money donations. He briefly speaks about the emerging sector of equity crowdfunding and the ways that it can be utilized by businesses and entrepreneurs, but beyond that he suggests that a whole world of crowdfunding exists for purposes other than helping fund early-stage projects. It can be used to find services–we call this crowdsourcing work–or it can be used to find volunteers. It can be used by corporations and their philanthropic divisions to create more buzz around their philanthropy. Companies have recently turned to crowdvoting platforms to distribute their allocated philanthropic budget, allowing people to vote for projects every month that they believe should be funded. This helps the corporation by making their donations more visible, and it also helps the individual projects, which benefit from the money they may receive and the attention they get by being featured on a much larger corporation’s crowdvoting website.
We hope that these messages help spread the word about crowdfunding and voting and the ways in which they can be used to further the mission of the UNDP, as well as the mission of countries looking to create new businesses and foster community. To learn more about the ways in which crowdfunding and crowdvoting can help nonprofits and NGOs click here.