The city collected a Community Infrastructure Levy fee from companies that were developing new buildings to strengthen infrastructure and services in the area. This fee included funds designated to support community-led projects, but administration of these funds and determining which projects to support was difficult and time consuming for city staff, and the application process deterred community groups from applying.
The Solution: Crowdfund Plymouth
The city partnered with Crowdfund UK to create an online platform where community members and local organizations could propose projects to improve their neighborhoods and residents could support promising ideas with monetary donations. If a project provided a benefit to the community and received public support, the city contributed levy funds.
How it Works
Community members proposed their ideas and residents contributed money to them via the crowdfunding site, allowing the city to easily identify and fund projects that had public support.
- Residents created pages on the website that included project descriptions and fundraising goals. Crowdfund UK provided technical assistance and promotion to help projects meet their targets.
- If the project was in a neighborhood where development had taken place and met certain criteria, it was eligible for levy funds. Requirements included:
- The project helped meet the demands that new development placed on community services and facilities.
- The project helped improve the local environment and public spaces; and/or the project demonstrated added benefit for the city, such as helping local residents develop new skills.
- At least 75% of the people benefiting from the project lived in Plymouth.
- Residents made financial contributions to support the projects. If a project raised 25% of its fundraising goal from citizen contributions, the city pledged 50% of the project’s target, up to a maximum of £20,000.
- If the project met 100% of its fundraising goal, including funds from both the city and residents, it was implemented.
Community members, together with the city, have funded 69 projects through a process that is transparent and easily used by community groups.
- The city has distributed more than £400,000 in levy funds through the crowdfunding initiative. For every £1 spent by the city, residents have donated more than £2.6, for more than £1 million in additional support for communities.
- Funded projects include:
- Union Corner, an inclusive community hub in a historic but struggling neighborhood, which is now used for activities including meditation, kids art clubs, and a soup kitchen.
- A children’s theater, a women’s soccer league, public artwork, a new playground, and an organization that seeks to protect marine life, among many others.