Crowdsourcing - the power of multiple individuals

21 July 2010 | By Cause4 staff

Since the phrase was coined in 2006, Crowdsourcing has risen in popularity. It is the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve organisational goals, made famous in the charitable sector by JP Morgan Chase. Their campaign Chase Community Giving utilised over 2 million people on Facebook to get directly involved in the promotion of the campaign and even allowed users to act as Trustees helping to decide where funds were allocated. Revolving around the idea therefore, that organisations can outsource the functions of their business through the internet and tap into the power of ‘the many’, the implications of Crowdsourcing for charities and the third sector are extensive.

The current challenge facing charities is the ‘need to engage people they have never really reached before’ - what might be referred to as the ‘engagement imperative’. Charities must now seek to engage with a new internet ready generation whose time and attention is limited.

So how can crowdsourcing play a part? Joe Rospars, Barack Obama’s new media expert, suggests: “The biggest lesson nonprofits can draw from Barack Obama’s online campaign is that fundraising now flows from engagement - it’s no longer enough to simply believe in the cause. It’s critical for people to participate in a cause.’ Essentially, the lessons for charities are that by crowdsourcing some of their functions they can achieve this aim.

By crowdsourcing some activities which traditionally would have been kept in-house – asking supporters to carry out PR/Marketing - by creating short digital ‘cause videos’ via Youtube for instance – charities can create loyalty and commitment to campaigns, thereby increasing the likelihood of supporters donating.

With Charities looking to find increasingly ingenious ways of engaging supporters, the possibilities available through crowdsourcing are endless. Research has shown that nearly always the power of multiple individuals is far greater than that of a few experts. Now is the time for charities, if they have not already done so, to harness this with both hands.

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