The Research

Led by Dr Mark Davis (PI) and commissioned by UK Govt., Financing for Society will conduct two phases of mixed methods research across the timeline of the funding period – i.e. both desk-based research of relevant academic and ‘grey’ literature, as well as qualitative interviews with relevant stakeholders at the start and end of the projects successful in applying to the ‘pilot fund’ – in order to establish the barriers and opportunities of crowdfunding as an option for public sector bodies to finance new, socially-beneficial infrastructure projects and to understand better the benefits of using this method of alternative financing.

The research has two main priorities:

  • To assess if, and how far, crowdfunding public infrastructure provides social benefits to individuals, the local community and /or the local council, with specific reference to increased community cohesion, an increased sense of ownership over local assets, and/or increased engagement with alternative means of saving/investment by individuals facilitated by a crowdfunding event;
  • To assess the more technical questions of how crowdfunding does/does not work for certain public infrastructure projects, with recommendations regarding which type of crowdfunding models appear to have most potential, and what are the barriers and opportunities of crowdfunding as an option for public sector bodies.

To achieve this, the research team will complete four (**) main tasks:

  1. To build the knowledge base around which public infrastructure projects can be successfully financed in this manner, and which cannot.
    Deliverable (D1) = Publication of a Final Report in August 2018 to be based upon our data. This will include case studies of successful projects facilitated by the Pilot Fund and a series of lessons learned
    The data will also be communicated in shorter ‘Executive Summaries’ prepared with key findings relevant to different audiences (e.g. Public Sector organisations; crowdfunding platforms).
  2. To build awareness in the Public Sector community about the possibility of crowdfunding as a means of financing socially-beneficial infrastructure that communities need.
    Deliverable (D2) = one knowledge sharing working group, and/or engagement events with Public Sector organisations.
  3. To build capacity and understanding amongst service providers (consultancies, construction firms and legal firms) to enable them to provide (and offer) the service after the project.
    Deliverable (D3) = Discuss with service providers the intended outcomes of the project and ensure they commit to build internal expertise.
  4. To build awareness and knowledge amongst crowdfunding platforms about the possibilities of working with public sector bodies to facilitate investment in local infrastructure projects.
    Deliverable (D4) = one knowledge sharing working group, and/or engagement events with Crowdfunding Platforms.

** The Research Team will also co-author one REF-eligible article based upon the project findings (D5).