Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Crowdfund Your Placemaking Project

The National Association of REALTORS® Placemaking Micro-grant will provide up to $3,000 in 2016 for to create new public spaces where a community can gather to meet up, relax, read a book, walk a dog, eat lunch, smell the flowers, play, look at art, take a walk and so on.   However, with most projects, more funding may be needed.

So how about turning to folks in the community who will be using the space to help fund the project?   Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers, and individual investors. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals—primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms—and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.

There are a variety of crowdfunding sites including gofundme, Kickstarter and indiegogo and the field is growing.  There are also different types of crowdfunding:  donation-based, rewards-based and equity-based.  Donation-based crowdfunding is the pooling of small online donations for a cause or project. This is the type that you’ll want to look into.

And crowdfunding sites are specializing.  In fact, there are now several crowdfunding donation-based sites focused on community outreach and development projects.   Two in particular are Patronicity and ioby.


Patronicity brings together local citizens and sponsors to support great initiatives in their communities.  Their model revolves around CrowdGranting which is the process of activating a project of a group of people (the crowd) and their dollars through a sponsor match (the granting) within a limited time frame.

They initiated a funding program in Michigan, the Public Spaces Community Places Grant, in partnership with the Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), and Michigan Municipal League.  This opportunity mobilizes community members, residents and general supporters to make individual contributions while promoting their efforts to others. Communities, non-profits and other business entities can submit projects by applying for a Patronicity crowdfunding online donation campaign. Projects meeting fundraising goals can receive a matching grant from MEDC/MSHDA of up to $50,000.

Patronicity Example: Union City Park Pavilion.

Public Spaces Community Places projects include:

  • Public Plaza & Green Space Development
  • Access to Public Amenities
  • Farmer’s Markets, Community Kitchens, Pop-Up Retail/Incubator Space
  • Alley Rehabilitation
  • Any other place based (or public space improvement) project
Patronicity Example:  East Lansing Artist Alleys.
Patronicity Example: East Lansing Artist Alleys.

ioby is another great crowdfunding site to look into.   ioby mobilizes neighbors who have good ideas to become powerful citizen leaders who plan, fund and make positive change in their own neighborhoods.  ioby helps neighbors grow and implement great ideas one block at a time. Their crowd-resourcing platform connects leaders with funding and support to make neighborhoods safer, greener, more livable and more fun.  ioby believes that it should be easy to make meaningful change “in our backyards” - the positive opposite of NIMBY.

ioby example:  Hegeman Community Garden.
ioby example: Hegeman Community Garden.

ioby uses the concept of crowd-resourcing (a term they coined) to drive projects to success: crowdfunding + resource organizing = crowd-resourcing.

ioby's platform gives everyone the ability to organize all kinds of capital—cash, social networks, in-kind donations, volunteer time, advocacy—from within the neighborhood to make the neighborhood a better place to live.

Ioby example:  Historic Meridian Park Pocket Park.
Ioby example: Historic Meridian Park Pocket Park.

So as you begin to think about and plan a placemaking project for 2016, remember the community is a great resource and may be willing to fund a project when they have something at stake and there is something in it for them.



Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.