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Week 6: Crowdfunding Networks

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Rocío Lara:

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Rocío Lara:

Learning objective:

  • Students can describe how they would use crowdfunding (for monetary support). What are the strengths and weaknesses of crowdfunding for their NGO challenge?
  • Give examples of potential crowdfunding options (at least 2) and critically review the strengths and weaknesses of each, giving examples and reasons for your conclusions.
  • Provide a final recommendation to your NGO on the use (or not) of crowdfunding.


What online architecture, tools and processes successfully help connect designers to funders and investors? What differentiates these from other types of open innovation online groups and environments? This is what we’ll explore together this week. You can weave your findings into your recommendations for your client.

Crowdfunding is used to secure funding.Once you have an idea, you need to understand how to fund the work. In some of your team projects, the goal itself is fundraising, making this opportunity even more important. Just a few examples include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, CircleUp, Catapult, tinyGive, AngelList. What other sites might you explore?

Crowdfunding often brings more than just funding. It can help connect to constituents and other possible types of support. For example, do you need additional ideas and encouragement from other designers, potential supporters and beneficiaries? Support as you refine your ideas? Communities and networks can help, particularly to bring diverse perspectives and critical thinking to your work. (Sometimes we are blind to great ideas and our own shortcomings!)

Crowdfunding can be considered as part of the larger context your NGO challenge. How does crowdfunding differ from the crowdsourcing sites you explored in week 4? From “crowd messaging” sites like ? How do these “crowd” approaches work together and complement each other? When do they compete and confuse constituents? When do you have to “discard your darlings” of your favorite ideas because they don’t make sense in the larger picture? Being cool, fun or interesting is not enough. It has to be STRATEGIC!

Monday Classroom Activity

  • Be prepared to plan your work and share your team agenda with your tutor
  • In the first breakout hour, focus on analyzing 2 crowdfunding sites. Option: (this is up to your tutor to decide with you). Be prepared to BRIEFLY tell the strengths and weaknesses of your sites with a visual you can show during the hangout. (You might do this on a flip chart page, whiteboard, or a document you can scan and share.)
  • Second hour: How are the themes are fitting in to your growing advice for the NGO? And how will you find the gaps? In the second breakout out, focus on the bigger picture. What are your key pieces of advice? What gaps do you still have in your research? How will you present the advice, taking the 4 themes into consideration? Will you advise on all 4 themes or just 2? If all 4 are useful, is there a prioritized order to them? (First this, then that?)
  • Be prepared as two students will be asked to summarize the day’s two pieces of work during the Hangout and frame your questions AND insights on the meetingwords for the Hangout.
  • Be prepared to help take collaborative notes and engage in the Hangout – We will prepare the hangout like last week. Maarten will invite the other groups, Nancy, Alan and Meggie. He will set up and record the hangout.

Teamwork activity

Your team’s task is to find and critically review at least two crowdfunding sites and see if they might be relevant and useful to your NGO’s design challenge. Identify what online architecture, tools and processes successfully help connect your NGO to funders and investors. How would you use a crowdfunding site specifically for your NGO challenge? How might your selected site complement or compete with crowdsourcing or crowd messaging options you have already explored? Please describe in some detail. Share the URL where you post your responses on Facebook so Nancy and Alan can find them. 😉

Personal Blog Reflection Prompt

Your post by midnight on Tuesday night, comments by midnight on Friday.
Now that you have explored crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, reflect on your sense of the usefulness of these options. It is easy to see the appeal of crowdfunding, but many designers have the inclination to “go it alone” and not seek the input of other designers or end users (as in crowdsourcing). What do you see as the pros and cons of crowdsourcing in design? Give your reasons for your responses. In responding to your peer’s blog posts, compare and contrast your ideas and try to move beyond the “good post” approach of commenting.


Hangout Archive

Fairphone Interview

Video interview with Tessa Wernink from Fairphone about how they used crowdfunding in their project.

  • Nancy White { Ah, you figured it out! It was one giant simulation and game! (Actually, I think it would be fun to apply game principles to this... } – Dec 18, 5:43 AM
  • Nancy White { I'm nodding in total agreement with Marcelo. Our own fears can be the biggest barrier, but it was wonderful to see all of you stepping... } – Dec 18, 5:42 AM
  • Nancy White { Hi Anna I like how you traced your learnings... excellent. One question -- what advice do you have for next years Project Community students??? Thanks... } – Dec 18, 5:41 AM
  • Nancy White { I LOVED this line: "I believe that what we are looking for today in design or the creative process is to accept people’s own ability... } – Dec 18, 5:39 AM
  • Nancy White { I had to smile when you wrote "produce something better than we did." If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?... } – Dec 18, 5:31 AM
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