Citizinvestor Helps Grab The Ears of Local Governments
Jordan Raynor, co-founder of Citizenvestor, believes he can use crowdfunding to fill a need unmet within many local communities.
“You have all of these projects that are budgeted out, already approved, the only thing missing is money,” Raynor told Mashable. “At a time when cities are really strapped for cash, the lists of those projects are endless.”
Citizinvestor, a recently launched crowdfunding platform for local governments, works directly with municipalities to fund projects that have fallen short on funding by allowing citizens to financially back projects they want to see completed.
For now, Citizinvestor focuses on smaller projects that citizens care about — projects such as Tree Philly, which aims to plant 15,000 trees in Philadelphia before the end of this year. Tree Philly is gaining momentum: With 54 days left for funding, 33 pledgers have donated $1,275 of the required $12,875. Much like Kickstarter, if the project doesn’t reach its goal, money is never withdrawn from donors’ accounts.
Citizinvestor, unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo, requires that projects come directly from cities or official city partners.
“We’re really trying to focus on micro projects, that four- to five-figure range so we can have that early success,” Raynor said, “then scale up to larger projects in the future.”
At the heart of Citizinvestor is its back-and-forth model that allows for citizens to begin petitions that’ll grab the ears of city hall.
When a user creates an account, they have the option of denoting themselves as a government representative or a citizen. Those who check the former box are hand-vetted by Citizinvestor for authenticity. Once posted, the amount a project needs for funding is increased by 8% to help maintain the site.
For example: if a playground costs $10,000 to fund, Citizinvestor posts it for $10,800. The $800 is then used to fund the site and payment system WePay. However, posting a petition, which can be done by any community member, is free.
“When a petition reaches the target number, we work with the petitioner to introduce them to the appropriate people in city hall,” Raynor said. “And hopefully, ideally turn that into a project.”
Since Citizenvestor’s launch last week, Philadelphia is the only participating city. Talks with at least 35 other cities are underway, with three to four new cities rolling out later this week.