Monday, August 26, 2013

Local Food Projects and Crowdfunding

I've been thinking a lot about crowd-funded* local food projects. There have been so many in our area (current: Meat Locker, Oxbow Farm, Cayuga Pure Organics, as well as past ones: Gardens for Humanity, Ithaca Community Harvest, Woods Earth Living Classroom, Main Street Farms, Sapsquatch... and more...)

Some of these projects are innovative and new. Some requests are from non-profits, others are requests from for-profit businesses. Some request funding to help with basic business expenses, others are to branch out into new territory, some are attempts to recover from disaster.

I watch these videos, I read the pleas of passion, and I want all of these projects to succeed -- and I know many of the project leaders personally. If we're not supporting our own neighbors, then who are we supporting?

But it also makes me wonder:
  • how do people decide who to donate to?
  • when is it okay to donate to a for-profit enterprise?
  • is crowdfunding a popularity contest?
  • is crowdfunding an egalitarian way to fund small projects (compared with big funding organizations)?
What do you think?

*Crowd-funding is "the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations," according to Wikipedia. Here's an unofficial history of crowd-funding.

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