'Crowdfunding' scheme to support Hertfordshire community projects

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Plans to commission an online 'crowdfunding' platform to support community projects in Hertfordshire are being considered by the county council.

'Crowdfunding' allows organisations to ask a large number of people or organisations to contribute a little to an individual project - rather than seeking funding from one or two large organisations.

There are already a number of commercial websites that have emerged to support 'crowdfunding' drives.

But now the county council is looking at plans to commission a new platform that would focus on community projects in Hertfordshire.

On Tuesday the plans to work towards a one-year pilot were backed by members of the county council's education, libraries and localism cabinet panel - subject to further consideration at a workshop.

And on Monday (October 28) the plans will be considered by the council's cabinet - which could give them the green light.

According to the report to the cabinet panel the platform would help projects that would otherwise struggle to attract funding.

It states: "By offering an additional way of funding local projects it enables initiatives that would normally struggle to attract finance through traditional avenues to proceed."

Currently any Hertfordshire project that wants to seek support through crowdfunding has to compete on commercial crowdfunding platform, where there are thousands of projects from across the UK.

But a Hertfordshire specific platform would enable them to target their project at individual supporters - as well as authorities, businesses and charities - that were local.

It would also enable the county council and other local authorities to allocate grants through the platform.

Councillors heard that it is an approach that's already being used by 45 local authorities across the country.

At the meeting councillors heard that it was proposed the platform would be set-up by the Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF), an independent charity that encourages local philanthropy.

It would be set up as a one-year pilot, before a decision was taken whether to go-ahead with a longer-term solution.

And according to the report, the platform could enable the groups and projects to match county council funding with other contributions, from the community, local groups ad national partners.

At the meeting of the cabinet panel, questions were raised about how it would operate.

Executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris said that as part of the commissioning process there would be a number of points that would continue to be addressed.

He stressed that at this stage they were only looking at a one-year trial. And he said they would move forward, but move forward with caution.

Typically on crowdfunding sites individuals upload details of their project, the amount they needed to raise and their time-scale onto the platform.

The platform provider would then review the project before it went 'live'. And once 'live'on the site it would then be flagged up to organisations whose funding criteria it matched.

The funds would only transfer to the project if and when the project closes successfully.