Sat 15 Aug 2020 5:21PM

Crowdfunding Services for Cooperatives

G Graham Public Seen by 88

Platform 6 has always been about creating a focal point for cooperative development, bringing together services, resources and support for people setting up and running co-operative businesses, especially in a digital context. For a while we've been looking at options around crowdfunding, community share issues and the like. Lots of cooperative organisations use crowdfunding approaches to good effect to raise funds - it's clearly a valuable and important part of the cooperative development landscape. And yet there aren't any cooperatively organised crowdfunding platforms out there that we are aware of.

Keen to gather ideas and input on the issues around crowdfunding for co--ops - what's needed, what works, what doesn't, and how it might work better if we're grow the co-operative economy.


Graham Sat 15 Aug 2020 5:35PM

One thing that a few of us have looked at is using Open Collective as a crowdfunding tool. In essence Open Collective is designed to let groups raise and spend money transparently without needing a bank account. Platform 6 is already set up as a fiscal host on OC, enabling the collectives that we host to use our bank account. But we've not used it yet for crowdfunding per se, where we might think of crowdfunding as tasing a given target mount in a month, for example. Would OC work in that context? How would it compare cost-wise?


Rory (as User) Sat 15 Aug 2020 8:04PM

What about http://crowd.one/platforms/Microgenius - the site organised by Co-ops UK?


Graham Sun 16 Aug 2020 10:49AM



John Merritt Sun 16 Aug 2020 11:02AM

We created a product fo Credit Unions - a Cooperative Loan Fund Guarantee - but only had one Credit Union use it so far. The basic idea is that interested members use some of their savings as a guarantee against a Credit Union loan for the Coop or social enterprises business finance. It would be of more local interest but it may be something Platform 6 could add to a web page of Cooperative Development Finance options and try to get Credit Unions to register with Platform 6 and encourage them to recognise that they are a Coop with a potential role in coop development?


Graham Sun 16 Aug 2020 11:41AM

This seems to be about debt finance @John Merritt ? My focus here is elsewhere. I'm also unclear as to what the business model here is? Feels like a steep uphill climb with little hope of a return on that investment? Maybe I've misunderstood?


John Merritt Sun 16 Aug 2020 12:43PM

The loan is debt finance to the Coop or social enterprise that borrows. However, the crowd are the local savers who put up some of their savings as a guarantee against the loan, making it safer for the Credit Union, giving interested in supporting a business a means of supporting it, without just donating. The crowd could be workers in the business, family and friends or supporters (which is the the three Crowd Fund targets). If all goes as it should, the guarantee will just sit in the Credit Union account and get interest as the business pays back the loan.

It isnt grant money, which I know is one Platform 6 objective, but in the video we created to promote this, Chris Funnell spontaineouly described it as Cooperative Crowd Funding. It maybe donated money or crowd investments could match this, I am suggesting the Guarantee Fund as a additional, rather than central model for Platform 6. Another in that related spacvwe is the Mutual Credit Network, which similarly, has potential but needs working through much more.

I can see I havent really engaged with the relationship between technical creation of a Crowd Fund and the conceptual practicalities of what works and what doesnt and I do have thoughts and experience having used Crowd Funder and some community funded projects.

Thhe big issue I find is getting the crowd.

I did work with someone who wanted to set up a coop or social enterprise who described one of his organisations as a Crowd Sourcing organisation it did make me think about this process. I think the personalities, the project, the rewards and the social media activity are all important. Community Shares, Loan Stock and ethical reward based investment are similar, but not necessarily for the same crowd. Indeed, you might get different crowds with the same investment vehicle.


Leo Sammallahti Tue 18 Aug 2020 12:03AM

Would love to hear more, would you like to be interviewed for a blog post about this? I have been trying to think of rank-and-file membership organising ideas on how big and old coops can support small and new ones, and looking for examples. This is exactly the sort of real life examples that I have had difficulty finding.


John Merritt Tue 1 Sep 2020 12:43PM

Hi Leo, I would be happy to talk it through if you want to. [email protected]


Oli SB Tue 18 Aug 2020 12:01PM

I'm in touch with the people behind https://www.coenergy.app/ which is a platform built to assist crowdfunding, stakeholder coms and governance for co-ops... it's design for energy co-ops but could easily be repurposed / used for other types of co-ops


Graham Tue 18 Aug 2020 1:02PM

Aah yes, I had a good chat with someone there a while back. A potentially important project with lots of good ideas. As I recall it's built on a commercial closed source platform so I'm not sure how sustainable that might be?

Load More