Crowd funding platforms around the world, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, are gaining popularity, especially as local and state governments dramatically cut public funds since the economic crisis began. As a result, alternative forms of financing are arising. This can include supporting ideas far away from one and/or more localized forms of financing.
Growfunding is a crowd funding platform on the local level serving Brussels. This includes urban agriculture, social micro-enterprises, artistic projects, and anything with an urban pulse. They seek to build a network around the projects at different levels. With the platform, they bring people together around various local projects, transforming the virtual awareness to real encounters.
It is a step by step process:
1. Choosing an appealing project for participation and/or support;
2. Supporting a project through shares and or contributions;
3. When the target goal is achieved, the donators will be notified. When the goal is not achieved the donations will be refunded in full.
This works by donations being kept in a Growfunding account that stays there until the donation duration is over to see if the money should be returned or transferred to the local project.
Some project themes include: urban agriculture, urban action, art in the city, public space, DIY, kid-friendly city, and Tours & Taxi. The multilingual Growfunding provides the space for the realizing of the cost of the project with the attention and guiding needed. The local project has access to the names and emails of the donors to keep them updated on the progress of the project and how they will use their money. For the local projects to be accepted to the site, they must first go through a preparatory course to ensure reliability of the project.
Growfunding is a practical outcome from research on Social & Community Work from the Brussels Hoegeschool (university college, started by four enthusiastic initiators: Stef Ampe, Laura Demunter, Thijs Degheldere and Frederik Lamote. There was a 3-month trial period for the Growfunding idea, then it was officially launched in the Fall of 2014.
The new platform has been doing well with a 60 % success rate on all projects posted. The starters attribute the success to the local dimension of the platform and their focus on projects with positive impacts in the city. Each project tells an inspiring story. They have attracted a diverse audience including young and old who care about things within the city.
What adds to the success of Growfunding is its local institutional acknowledgement and legitimization. The donations made via Growfunding can be tax deductible (it saves the government money on the local projects it does not invest in or subsidize).