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Landcare putting it to the people

posted Sep 27, 2014, 2:11 PM by J Shaw   [ updated Sep 27, 2014, 2:15 PM ]
LANDCARE has been reinventing itself for 25 years, but a move into crowdfunding to raise capital for projects has the potential to be the most radical reinvention yet.

The Pozible alliance gives Landcare groups the ability to seek funding outside of government, by seeking small contributions from the community that collectively add up to useful funding for a project.

Landcare NSW launched the initiative to pull in new sources of funding through Australian crowdsourcing site Pozible at the National Landcare Conference in Melbourne.

After extensive talks with Landcare NSW, Pozible has created a new “Landcare & Environment Collection” category that was launched with 15 Australian Landcare projects, and 10 international Landcare projects.

The initial batch of projects say something about the scope of Landcare today.

From Corowa District Landcare’s project “Single Paddock Tree Needs a Wife” to southern New England Landcare’s “Frog Dreaming: people, place and storytelling” and a farmer training project by Landcare Bangladesh, Pozible provides a new public face to Landcare as a mosaic of community-driven environmental action.

Crowdfunding is a modern phenomenon, driven by communications technology.

People seeking funding for a project post a pitch about the project’s value on a crowdfunding site like Pozible (the US-specific Kickstarter has become synonymous with this form of fundraising), and offer a range of rewards in return for funding commitments that may range from small change to tens of thousands of dollars.

If commitments meet or exceed the initial target posted on the site, the project is funded; if not, no money changes hands.

The concept leverages the power of many people making modest contributions to generate a useful amount of capital for a project. It is also highly reliant on a successful social media campaign to spread the word about the crowdfunding effort, and whip up interest.

The pitch is all-important, Pozible co-founder Alan Crabbe said. His calculation is that projects that use a good video in their pitch attract 3-5 times the funding of those that don’t.

Communities 'at the centre'

Landcare NSW chair Rob Dulhunty hopes the move to crowdfunding introduces a new era for Landcare.

“It puts communities back at the centre of their destinies,” he said.

“It allows communities to do their own project design and seek funding from within their communities. A lot of Landcare groups have felt disenfranchised over the past 10 years by the changes in government programs. This allows them to get a bit of control back.”

And, Mr Dulhunty said, in a time of government cuts to everything, it delivers on the strong necessity for Landcare to diversify its funding base.

The crowdfunding approach cuts two ways for groups and government.

It asks groups to consider the value of their project to the community, and then get creative in telling the community about its value proposition.

For government, it offers a new avenue for assessing projects.

Support for the initiative has been pledged by NSW Local Land Services and the Community Mutual Group, and Landcare NSW is “in discussions with philanthropic interests” about funding support.

Getting creative about fundraising

Pozible’s Alan Crabbe is watching the development with as much interest as anyone.

Crowdfunding, and Pozible, began as a way for those in the creative industries, like filmmakers and musicians, to get funding for projects that would get no traction through the usual avenues for capital raising.

“Now it’s evolved to allow everyone with a creative idea to pitch it to the world and see if it’s compelling enough to get people on board,” Mr Crabbe said.

“With the launch of an environmental category, we’re telling people we’re open to all kinds of projects, whether they are community based, or new ideas to enhance your local backyard. This is a new application of crowdfunding.

“We’ve seen crowdfunding for music go to great heights, especially for new groups, I think it can go the same way for community organisations to pitch themselves.”

Mr Crabbe expects there to be a lot of learning done by all parties. He hopes that by working with the extensive Landcare network, “we can facilitate crowdfunding for environmental projects and help teach groups how they pitch themselves to the world”.

The launch involved 25 projects, but Pozible is now open to any Landcare project that needs funding, has value to the community, and has a team behind it that is prepared to get creative in pitching it.

Inaugural projects in the Landcare & Environment Collection can be viewed at the Landcare Pozible page.

• Basalt to Bay Landcare: “Bandicoot Boosters”, Vic

• Brunswick Valley Landcare: “Nest boxes for owls”, NSW

• Central West Lachlan Landcare: “Plan Bee”, NSW

• Corinda State High School Landcare: “Beasts and Gardens in the City”, Qld

• Corowa District Landcare: “Single Paddock Tree Needs a Wife”, NSW

• Esperance Regional Forum Landcare: “Natural neighbours: fabulous farm produce and wonderful wetlands”, WA

• CERES Bee Group and Taranaki Farm: “The Practical Beekeeper: Bringing Back the Bees”, Vic

• Victorian Central Highlands Community: “Great Forest National Park”, Vic

• Holbrook Landcare: “Finding Nanno”, NSW

• Dr Courtney Waugh, University of Sunshine Coast: “Vaccine for Koalas”, Qld

• Mitcham Primary School Junior Landcare project: “Inspire us and ‘natify’ our school to provide an important habitat for bugs, bees, birds and lizards”, SA

• Murray and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area’s Ricegrowers, “Tracking Bunyip Birds”, NSW

• Southern New England Landcare: “Frog Dreaming: people, place and storytelling”, NSW

• Tamworth Regional Landcare: “Envirorace”, NSW

• Wilson’s Creek Huonbrook Landcare: “Living with Lyrebirds”, NSW

• The Fundacion Sonar + Verde: "Dreaming greener Schools”, Cartagena, Colombia

• Charcoal artist Mike Rowland’s: “The Bee Project”, US

• New Zealand Landcare Trust: “Saving NZ's endangered native fish - through habitat restoration and youth education”, Waikato, New Zealand

• The Deepam Trust: "Tamilnadu: Saving Species and helping people thrive”, India

• The Sainte Luce Reserve: “Lemur Lodge”, Madagascar

• Landcare Bangladesh: “Farmer Training”, Bangladesh

• Centre for Sustainability: “Live support for sustainable fish hatchery in the Philippines”, Philippines

• Centre for Sustainability: “Batak Tribe Forest Warden training”, Philippines

• Landcare Nigeria: “Monkey Habitat - Community planting of indigenous trees”, Nigeria

• Indonesian Landcare: “Poobank”, Indonesia

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