Study Finds that Crowdfunding Works in Helping Revitalize Michigan Communities
Detroit, Michigan – A new report being unveiled at a national conference of investors and community leaders in Detroit this week shows how Michigan is at the forefront of the community crowdfunding movement in the nation.
The report, Community Investment, Community Growth: A Retrospective in Michigan Crowdfunding, tells the story of the evolution of crowdfunding, including the high fives, the hard work, and the hits and the misses. The hope is that this report becomes a learning tool that every state can use to activate a previously dormant network of community investors. It’s being released today in Detroit at the ComCap19—the annual conference of the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3). The conference draws upward of 400 community leaders, ecosystem builders, entrepreneurs, investors, citizens, and practitioners from across the country.
Published by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan Municipal League, the report is a retrospective in Michigan crowdfunding that shares case studies of community capital in action. It lays out the origins of the movement in Adrian, Michigan, the passage of the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption (MILE) Act in 2013, and then details specific crowdfunding projects in Detroit, Traverse City, Lansing, Tecumseh, Calumet Township, and Portland.
“This report does an exceptional job of telling the story of one of our state’s best-kept secrets—how Michigan and our supporters are leaders in the nation when it comes to crowdfunding projects making a real impact in our communities,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “With community capital, we all can play a part in making our communities better—whether it’s with our ideas, our time, our money or our networks. It all contributes to the inclusivity and opportunity we ultimately seek, and it gives us a voice and a stake in the process.”
The report details the success of two Michigan-specific crowdfunding tools—the donation-based crowdfunding program—Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) —and the investment-based crowdfunding program for business, known as community capital investing. Donation-based crowdfunding raises money through individual donations for a specific project or initiative. Investment-based crowdfunding allows people—not just big-money accredited investors—to invest in local businesses, and these backers get a financial return on their investment.
To date, more than $14 million has been invested in 212 projects in communities through the PSCP program. With the financial backing by MEDC and support by the League, the PSCP initiative provides matching grants for crowdfunded public spaces through Detroit-based Patronicity, an online crowdfunding platform. Through the program, community members donate to support a project for a public space, such as a plaza or community garden, and the transformational idea is backed dollar-for-dollar by a grant from the state of Michigan, up to $50,000. MEDC has contributed almost $6.5 million in PSCP grants to match $7.6 million of crowdfunded donations.
“With community buy-in—both figurative and literal—donation-based and investment-based crowdfunding can fill critical gaps in access to capital for businesses and projects in all our communities,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “And Michigan is at the forefront of this community capital strategy.”
Michigan’s PSCP program has an astounding 98-percent success rate. The program has provided $5,000 in match funding for projects as small as a bike rack program in downtown Wayne, while spurring over $105,000 in crowdfunding for projects as large as the Ultimate Trailhead in northern Michigan—both thanks to annual state funding, ease of application, and leveraging Patronicity support.
The return on the state’s investment is incredible. Over $7 million of private donations have directly matched the state investment for crowdfunded projects, and these dollars have also helped leverage more than $40 million in additional resources in those communities. That is a ratio of $7.47 leveraged for every $1 of MEDC funding through PSCP.
“That’s an amazing return on the state’s investment,” Czarnecki said. “Now, we’re very excited to see other states following in Michigan’s innovative footsteps. They’re determined and ready to get to work after seeing how our communities and organizations have answered the million-dollar question: ‘How did you do it?’”
But success is not guaranteed, the report concludes. Simply implementing these programs in other states won’t make them successful. Not all communities have the capacity and wherewithal to put these types of projects together no matter how much they believe in empowered spaces and connected places. Ideas, plans and project details often rest on the shoulders of volunteers working after-hours in community rooms. Enthusiasm and energy can wane quickly, according to the report.
“This isn’t a magic formula,” Czarnecki said. “It takes a great deal of time, effort and commitment to bring these projects to fruition. But as we’ve seen, and as this report illustrates, the efforts are well worth it.”
The report is available by clicking here and at the newly updated crowdfundingmi.com website.
About the League
Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.
About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.