Crowd funding has already worked wonders. Inventors, artists, and companies with radical new ideas have all brought projects to life that never would have been possible a few years ago. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been hugely successful and even spun off several equity based crowd funding sites like Crowdfunder. Despite all this success, I believe that crowd funding has yet to reach its full potential.
Civic Crowd Funding
Crowd funding is a community coming together to fund a project, so logically it makes sense as a fit for public projects that are for the community. Recently, a few sites have popped for crowd funding public community works like this, such as Space Hive and Change By Us.
Anyone who's ever gotten involved in their community can probably attest to the roadblocks that exist. Every neighbor on your block might be dying for a place to walk their dog, but to actually get a park built you'll need to get the full attention of one of the hand full of people that can make that happen in the government or involved construction company. As these crowd funded projects have shown, however, great things can happen when the community can scrape together enough money and willpower to build what they need for themselves.
Let's Not Stop at Neighborhood Parks
The power of the internet isn't just one step above posting flyers in your community center though, it's orders of magnitude larger. When all of this power of the millions of people that can get involved in a public project do so, then we will see the next step in crowd funding.
The problems that exist with the unsatisfied needs of the public are even more prevalent on a larger scale. Right now, the United States' infrastructure in broadband internet is falling well behind most developed nations. Americans are paying significantly more money for significantly worse mobile phone service than elsewhere in the world. And both the public and private sectors are still trying to sort out how to provide an efficient health care system. Throughout all of this, the American people, the ones who are in need of these services, can't do anything to improve the situation.
No one has yet crowd funded a city's fiber infrastructure, a reasonable priced data network, or a fund for people with life threatening illnesses. Crowd funding does continue to make its mark in new areas of our lives everyday though, by connecting people with a need directly to people with a solution. As it continues to develop, I can only see this impact increasing.