Over the last five years, 130 community-led crowdfunding projects in London have received crucial support from the Mayor of London, raising in total £4.85 million – and now Nesta have released a report looking at the impact this has had.

Crowdfund London has offered local groups the opportunity to receive up to £50,000 from the Mayor to improve their neighbourhood. Alongside help in gaining visibility for their campaign, the programme offers guidance on how to design, develop and deliver projects and gives introductions to other important stakeholders.

Five years of empowering communities through civic crowdfunding

Some of the headline results are:

  • 77% of those involved feel more empowered as a result of crowdfunding for their project
  • 72% of projects said the experience increased community cohesion
  • 86% of projects said that this process significantly improved the skills of members of the team
  • 65% of projects funded things that could not be funded elsewhere
  • 73% of project leaders had plans to start another community project in future.

Nesta’s findings are a great example of why crowdfunding isn’t just about the money. At its best, it’s about connecting people and building community. Financial and practical support from the Mayor of London didn’t just get projects past their funding target (90% of projects backed by Crowdfund London hit their target, as opposed to 52% of non-supported projects). It also helped make connections (72% of fundraisers have found new partners or collaborators, 65% of projects brought people together from different parts of the community) and build skills (7000 volunteers participated in projects, 51% of campaigns received professional feedback on their project design, and project teams improved their skills in pitching (63%), fundraising (52%) and community engagement (52%)).

Pages from the full report

City Hall’s aim was to explore “how crowdfunding can empower citizens and change the relationship between communities and City Hall”, with a particular focus on campaigns to improve the local neighbourhood. I’m delighted the value of community crowdfunding is so clear in the report’s findings, and to see their conclusions include ways to increase the impact of initiatives like this.

Crowdfund London has shown that there is value in embedding crowdfunding as a complementary tool alongside traditional grantmaking to support grassroots innovation and local participation.

Five years of empowering communities through civic crowdfunding

People and communities already have the drive to make these projects happen. Given a confidence boost from the extra support and guidance as part of this scheme, it’s clear they’ve been able to fly – 81% of projects wouldn’t have set up a crowdfunding campaign had it not been for Crowdfund London.

Next up, Make London – the initiative that builds on what’s been learned here, providing funding and support for “community-led projects to help your local area recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”

If you have a project you think could fit Make London’s criteria, find out more about what they’re funding and how to get involved.

Read the full report

Read the report summary

More from NESTA about crowdfunding