What is the Civic Crowd?
The Civic Crowd is a community action platform. Its aim is to map amazing citizen-powered projects and ideas and provide the means for communities to come together and drive positive change in their area.
The Civic Crowd provides activists and community organisers with the tools to manage their projects and crowdsource support, including driving activity and funding. It allows volunteers to discover exciting opportunities to help out in their area and contribute to projects by providing feedback, donations & support.
Working on an amazing civic initiative? Use the Civic Crowd to evidence your impact to the world!
To get started why not try exploring your area for exciting projects and ideas?
The Civic Crowd map uses different icons to represent different types of civic project, such as those relating to 'Education' or 'Energy & Environment'. Use the map filters to navigate the projects in your area to find things that interest you, then click through to read more about them and contribute.
The 'Featured' section of the site includes recently highlighted Projects, Actions, and Ideas to inspire you.
Every project on the Civic Crowd has its own dashboard page, from which you can learn about it, show your appreciation, contribute, follow recent updates, or donate.
Sign Up & Profile
To use all the Civic Crowd features you first need to sign up using your Facebook account (why Facebook?). Once you have signed up you will be prompted to create a username. This username will appear publicly in various places throughout the site. When referenced with an '@' symbol before it in comments or posts by others, your username will link back to your personal profile.
Your personal profile is the place you share information about yourself, such as a brief description of your interests and your website link (by default this is set to your facebook page, but you can change it to whatever you like by editing your profile...). Your profile page also displays a stream of all your activity on the site.
When you first visit your profile page you will be prompted to fill out additional information via a series of yellow sticky notes.
- Tell us your Twitter username to have your recent tweets display on your profile.
- Offer Support to others by selecting a type of offer from the available options, for example 'Legal Advice'. Your support offer is displayed alongside your username every time you volunteer on a project.
- Become a fully fledged civic Volunteer by setting your 'Area of Interest'. This is the area you would be willing to volunteer in, for example your local neighbourhood. Volunteers receive email notifications whenever a new project is created in their area of interest.
Become a Volunteer!
Did you know you can VOLUNTEER to support Projects in your area?
Sharing Projects & Ideas
Once you have signed up to the Civic Crowd you can share a Project you are working on or an Idea for your neighourhood using the 'Add Projects & Ideas' link. Projects are a commitment to make a positive change and build momentum with the support of activists, volunteers, and funders. Ideas are one-off suggestions or inspiring proposals - think of them as the seeds of future projects! Project pages provide many more features than Idea pages.
When you create a new Project or Idea you will be guided through the creation form to provide a title, description, and location. In addition, you must pick a 'Type' which best fits your proposal. For Projects the type will determine what icon graphic appears on the map. You can also choose multiple 'Categories' which relate to the nature and purpose of your project or idea, for example who it is for and 'Intended Impacts'.
In addition to the above you can provide a website link to associate with your project or idea page, provide a YouTube video URL to embed a video at the head of the page, and provide a Facebook page URL and Twitter account name to embed social feeds on your page.
Once you have completed the first page of the create form and clicked the 'CONTINUE' button, you will have the opportunity to upload any pictures associated with your project or idea. At this stage it is also a good idea to review all the details you have provided before scrolling to the bottom of the form and creating the item.
Managing Projects & Actions
When you create a Project you are building a dashboard and campaign page for your civic mission. The Civic Crowd treats projects as 'parent' initiatives under which a series of discreet 'Actions' can be performed and managed, each of which contributes to the broader aims of the project. Actions can be offered by anyone to help realise the project and each can be run and managed by a different person. In this way a Project can develop as a series of distributed activities managed by different contributors.
An action is created by clicking the button 'Offer an Action to help Make it Happen!' (under the main project page), and simply providing a title and description of what is to be done. When an Action is first created it is treated as an 'offer' (indicated by an outstretched hand icon). This action offer can be 'Accepted' by the project Admin in order to formerly recognise it as part of the project (indicated by a handshake icon). This is done by selecting 'Accept this Action on the Project' under the right-hand 'Tools' menu on the action page. Accepted actions can be assigned crowdfunding targets and begin to accrue funding under the project.
Each Action appears in a list under the main project page as well as occupying its own dedicated subpage. An Action page is similar to a Project page, however the principal features between the two vary slightly. As well as carrying the description and information about the broader project, the project page shows an overview of progress across all related actions, including such things as events and miniblog posts. The project page is also used to assign and indicate roles to specific people on the project. An Action page provides additional tools to support volunteering and discussion on what needs to be done, as well as supporting crowdfunding where this has been enabled by the project admin. In this way, tangible progress is managed and coordinated action by action with the project page then used to evidence overall impact.
Appreciating & Volunteering
The Civic Crowd provides two methods for capturing metrics (votes) on support. At the project level people can offer their appreciation. You can appreciate a project by clicking the corresponding button at the head of the project page - your name will be added to a simple list of appreciators, which can be used as a petitioning tool.
At the Action level people can Volunteer their support. Their names are added to a corresponding detailed list of volunteers, which includes their profile picture, username, description, and the type of support they offer e.g. 'Construction Advice'.
A New Crowdfunding Model
The Civic Crowd presents a new way of doing crowdfunding. We recognise that community projects often evolve organically in response to contributions and available time and resources. We also recognise that trying to manage funds is a real headache, especially when you are simultaneously juggling campaigning, hosting events, and managing people. Rather than having to cost out and specify the total amount of money you would need to raise to complete your entire project, the Civic Crowd lets you attribute smaller sums to specific Actions as the project develops. In this way a complex project can be broken down into manageable actions (each led by a proactive supporter), and smaller crowdfunding targets. A single funder might choose to back an entire action, such as 'renting a van for a day' or 'paying for refreshments for a community meetup', or contribute a smaller amount to a single tangible outcome, which can then be evidenced.
Crowdfunding donations on the Civic Crowd are managed via PayPal. In order to begin to accept funds on a specific action you first need to create a PayPal account (if you don't already have one). To make an action fundable you must first 'accept it on the project' (handshake), and then click the button 'Make this Action Fundable' under the right-hand 'Tools' menu on the Action page (only available to the project admin). You will be prompted to input the email address associated with your PayPal account, and the target amount you wish to raise on the action.
Unlike some other crowdfunding sites the Civic Crowd does not require you to hit your target figure in order to receive funds. All funds committed via PayPal are donations which are directly transferred to the recipient account. No waiting around to see whether your campaign is 100% successful - just receive donations and get to work right away! Use the action by action breakdown to keep account of project budgets and track your most popular and successful campaign actions.
raised of £100 target
QR-codes, Twitter, and SMS integration
We know that capturing engagement from contributors, local residents, and interested parties is one of the hardest things for a community organiser to manage effectively. Along with the various tools provided directly on each Action page (such as comments, volunteering, and crowdfunding), the Civic Crowd also includes Twitter and SMS integration, as well as printable QR-codes on every Project, Action, and Idea page.
In order to take advantage of Tweet-in and SMS integration you must first assign a unique #hashtag on an Action. The hashtag is displayed at the head of the Action page. When the hashtag is referenced in comments anywhere on the site it is automatically linked back to the Action page.
Once a hashtag is assigned on an Action a new right-hand tool pane appears titled 'Feed In'. This includes instructions on how to direct tweets and SMS text messages into the Civic Crowd. All incoming messages appear in the Activity Stream of the Action, as well as aggregated on the parent Project page. The 'Tweet In' pane includes a button to autogenerate a tweet in the required format - use it to post a message to the activity stream whilst simultaneously broadcasting to your Twitter followers.
Clicking on the QR-codes automatically generated on every page will link to a larger code which can be downloaded and printed off as a flyer to put up at events. Scanning the code with a smartphone will link directly to the corresponding page on the Civic Crowd site.
One of the best ways to manage engagement on your project is to host events. The Civic Crowd has an integration with EventBrite to allow organisers to share their events straight from their project or action page. Volunteers and community members can then book tickets directly through the site.
In order to take advantage of this feature you must first create an EventBrite account (if you don't already have one) and setup your event through the EventBrite website. When you have finished creating the event copy the resulting page URL from EventBrite to your clipboard, return to the Civic Crowd, choose 'Add an Event' from the tools menu, and paste the EventBrite URL into the resulting form.
All events linked to project actions are aggregated on the corresponding Project page under the 'Events' tab, and displayed in a new 'Upcoming Events' tool pane on the right-hand side of the associated Action and Project pages.
It's a good idea to keep your community updated periodically with new developments and progress reports related on your Project or Action. The Civic Crowd provides a 'Miniblog' feature to allow admins to manage such updates. To use the feature simply select 'Create a Miniblog Post' from the right-hand 'Tools' menu on the corresponding Project or Action page, and provide a title and content.
Miniblog posts are aggregated at the Project level under the 'Updates' tab, and displayed in a new 'Updates' tool pane on the right-hand side of the associated Action and Project pages.
Managing your Team
Very few civic projects are ever managed by a single person. If you have a team and want to credit them and communicate their respective roles on the Civic Crowd you can use the 'Invite a Team Member' link under the right-hand 'Tools' menu. Simply provide their '@' username and assigned Role to flag them under the 'Team' tab on your Project.
It is also possible to transfer administrative rights over your Project to another user using the 'Transfer to a new Admin' link. Simply provide their username and they will be notified to accept the responsibility.
If you are working on a range of related projects and would like to associate them all together, or if you are responsible for a community which spans multiple locations and initiatives you can create a 'Network'. Networks are collections of projects which can be viewed together via the corresponding Network page. Each network has a customisable Badge, which is displayed on related Project pages. The Network Badge carries a custom colour theme and acronym (upto 4-letters long).
You can create a Network via the 'Add Projects & Ideas' link. The create network form is similar to the create project and idea form. You will be prompted to provide a name and description, and optionally website, Facebook, and Twitter links. In addition, you must select a Label (acronym) for your network, as well as Primary, Secondary, and Text colours for your badge. The badge will be automatically generated from these values.
Once you have created your network you can begin to invite projects to it. To do so simply select 'Invite Project to join this Network' from the 'Tools' menu and provide the Civic Crowd URL of the particular project page. The Project Admin will receive a notification to accept or reject the invitation. Once the invitation has been accepted the project will appear listed under the network page. You can also view all network projects on the Map using the appropriate link on the main page.