Social media as a tool in project funding
New ways to find funding through like-minded people all over the world
In the Internet it is easy to find and communicate with like-minded people. So far this interaction has been mainly exchanging information and experiences as well as making new contacts. In the future social media might evolve to become a tool for realizing different kind of societally beneficial projects in real life. That is, projects that might have benefits for many, but which are not interesting for profit-seeking and risk aversive investors, might be financed through spontaneous charity networks. The goal of these projects can be to fund certain public goods (such as building a park or a playground), to give a boost for startup-companies whose aims some people find very desirable or to produce solution to an existing problem which no-one has yet solved in a satisfactory fashion.
Some examples of projects that have started with activity of people who know each other mainly only in the virtual world already exist. These examples include a Finnish ecorolla project, (http://www.sahkoautot.fi/eng) where the idea is to produce an affordable electric car by using the body, transmission and applicable parts of a standard model 2002-2007 Toyota Corolla. The car’s combustion engine is replaced with electronic engine and batteries as well as all the necessary equipment to run the car are fitted to the Corolla. The project is virtual in the sense that there is no company that coordinates the activity, just a group of interested people who are willing to invest their time for designing an affordable electronic car. The serial production of cars is expected to begin in 2010.
Another example of virtual project funding is the idea presented at http://www.outvesting.org/ (outvesting means committing money to a business while expecting income or profit in return). First a certain amount of money is gathered through and later the Internet community takes a vote on which of the many good causes the money is spent.
Through funding gathered via social web even very local projects might find global funding. All is needed is that people find the pages and the idea presented fits to world view of persons visiting the project web page. For instance, a Finn might want to give a Euro or two for a well project in Africa or an American might want to assist a Finnish farmer to build a biofuel plant with a few Dollars. The concept for gathering money is ready already today, but a huge growth in utilizing this aspect of social media is expected to grow considerably in 2010’s.
Opportunity: New ways to gather funding for a good cause
Threat: Criminals might try to use these systems to exploit the good nature of people