Written by Bridget Anderson, Patronicity
Public spaces are important for the development and vibrancy of local cities and towns, and a placemaking approach empowers locals to play a role in the projects. As citizens are patrons of our public spaces, many feel empowered to also be critical investors in their creation. When it comes to placemaking and public space investments, those dollars can go even further because of an innovative approach called “crowdgranting”.
We are Patronicity, a crowdfunding platform born out of Detroit and designed to empower communities to build their placemaking projects. We’ve helped over 550 projects fund over $15 million and a key part of that success has been our public-private partnerships with grant giving organizations.
State partners, like the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, are looking to spur economic growth and empower communities to develop public spaces most needed locally. This creates an opportunity for individual cities, towns, and non-profit community organizations to harness the power of their crowd to crowdgrant for available state funding.
Our granting partners are looking to create economic development opportunities, and understand that grassroots activations of space come from community-driven grassroots campaigns. These funders are not only interested in just solving problems in communities, but empowering communities to be part of the solution. Here are some examples of the challenges our communities face:
Whether it’s an empty alleyway or an abandoned silo, these are spaces that need change and are ripe for improvement from a community that has a stake in how these problems are solved.
While the granting dollars can be a big incentive, it starts with a creative story. The Patronicity platform is designed to help communities tell their story, ensure it’s aligned with the granting entity, and help them extend their reach. Part of telling that story is not only knowing what will motivate donors, but connect those donors to the space you are looking to improve. Anytime a community can tap into its unique history and culture, the better a project will develop.
We also provide strategies and best practices for success but communities are still in-charge of their own success. Crowdfunding is not a replacement for traditional fundraising and the personal connection to donors and the space makes a difference. In fact, we recommend our project leaders get community members engaged at every level including design, marketing, building, and events.
Tapping into the communities ideas, skills, resources, and funds can make placemaking more powerful. After a successful campaign, communities use the money to make transformations like this:
These images are powerful. It’s more than just about how pretty they look, but that these spaces are more welcoming. Residents and outsiders are seeing these spaces and changing their perspective on what is possible. Many communities report new investments, new businesses, and renewed collective energy stemming from their successful online campaigns and galvanizing their neighbors behind a shared identity. These ripple effects are exactly why funders see the value in providing a match.
Crowdgranting is innovating a traditional fundraising model because it is people and place centric while optimizing outcomes through collaboration and harnessing the power of a crowd.