IT IS a fundraising technique that has been used to support everything from a shrimp farm and the development of a revolutionary camera shaped like a ball to countless video games, a high concept smartphone and several films (including Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here).
Now crowdfunding has come to York - in the shape of York Hive, the city's very own online fundraising platform.
York Hive is a collaboration between Make It York and the national crowdfunding platform Spacehive.
It is a great new way for the people of York themselves to have a direct input into community projects they think are deserving of support, says Make It York managing director Steve Brown. "Whether you want to bring a wonderful old building back to life or create something completely new, York Hive will enable York’s local communities to make decisions on which projects are supported and help create projects that will make a real difference," he said.
The platform will enable local people to see a range of York community projects that need funding - and then pledge a minimum of £2 to any project they like the look of, to make it possible.
It went live today, and already includes six projects which the people of York are being invited to support.
We report on each of these six projects below. Meanwhile, you can find out more, pledge your support, or even suggest other York projects you think should be allowed to crowdfund through the same platform, http://www.spacehive.com/initiatives/york
THE SIX YORK HIVE PROJECTS SO FAR...
The Micklegate Soap Box Challenge
Micklegate was historically known as one of York's finest streets. But it has suffered a bit in recent years from being on the other side of the River Ouse to the rest of York's city centre.
Micklegate: imagine 40 go-karts racing down here...
Organisers of the 'soap box challenge' have come up with an idea that is bound to put the street firmly back on the map - a race down the cobbled street for up to 40 go kart teams.
The race is planned for August 28. The karts will race down a quarter of a mile course from historic Micklegate Bar past some of York’s most beautiful buildings before screeching through the finishing line on Ouse Bridge. Johnny Hayes, head of the Micklegate Business Initiative and a local independent ward councillor, said: ‘We’re aiming to raise the profile of this magnificent Georgian street, one of the finest of its kind in the country, lined with stunning architecture and independent shops, cafes and restaurants. We hope this challenge will deliver a much-loved event that will create that sense of community and put this iconic York Street firmly on the map."
There's a cost to staging such an event, however. Organisers aim to raise £11,000. "That will pay for all the barriers, stewards, bales of hay, signage, road closure fees - all the paraphernalia that goes with staging an event like this," said Mr Hayes.
The Panthers are a community football club run by volunteers, with a clubhouse on Little Knavesmire, just 500 yards from York Racecourse. More than 3,600 people have played for the club since it was founded in 1988, including children from twenty eight schools.
The Hamilton Panthers in action against Poppleton Tigers
The club has already raised £715,000 to build a new clubhouse. Work has begun on the building, but the club needs to raise a further £50,000 more to complete the project.
Phil Sanderson, the club secretary who is leading on this project, said: "The club has already worked tirelessly to raise £715,000. Extra time has been added to raise this extra £50,000 before the final whistle blows in 40 weeks’ time when the clubhouse is complete. It will be a magnet for anyone interested in getting involved in football in York."
Artist's impression of what the new Panthers' clubhouse will look like
The Rigg Monument
On a bright August day in 1830, six brothers and sisters out boating on the Ouse drowned when their craft collided with another boat and overturned. York was so shocked by the deaths of nineteen-year-old Ann Rigg, her sister Eliza, 17, and her brothers Thomas, 18, John, 16, James, seven, and Charles, six, that the whole city came together to raise funds for a memorial. It was, in effect, an early form of crowdfunding.
The monument was built in the grounds of St Lawrence's Church off Lawrence Street. It had a fine stone base; a brick back with two columns, one on each side; railings; and an ornate inscription on a marble plaque.
In the nearly 200 years since, however, the monument has fallen into disrepair. York Civic Trust wants to restore the monument to its original glory - using a crowdfunding process similar to that which allowed it to be built in the first place. The total cost of the restoration will be about £15,000, of which £10,000 has already been pledged. That leaves another £5,000 to go.
The Rigg Monument
"The Rigg Monument is currently in a bad state of repair," said Civic Trust chief executive David Fraser. "Our aim is to restore this important piece of York history and family memorial to ensure it is recognised once more as a monument of national importance."
Abundance at Edible York
Less waste, more fruit: that's what Abundance is all about. The project, which is ongoing, aims to pick surplus fruit growing in York's gardens and in the wild, then distribute it to local people who will benefit most.
Groups of pickers are organised each summer and autumn. But this year the Edible York team wants to recruit more volunteers to pick the fruit - and to install a walk-in metal container to store the fruit.
In order to get the fruit to people who will benefit the most from it, Edible York links up with voluntary groups who pass the fruit on at food banks and community cafes. Having storage will make it possible for more agencies to take part.
The aim is to raise almost £5,000. "We truly believe in this project and how it can succeed," said Bill Eve, the chair of Edible York. "There is a site set aside for the new storage container, which will be rent-free and we believe this expansion of the Abundance harvest in 2016 will be the foundation for even more benefits for local people in future years. There will be wider geographical coverage, a greater volume of fruit handled and more people actively involved."
The Arts Barge
If you've been down to the Foss basin recently, you may have noticed moored up there an old grain barge with all the superstructure stripped away. This is the Selby Tony, which once hauled cargoes of grain between Selby and Hull for BOCM.
The Selby Tony moored at the Foss Basin Arts Barge directors (l-r) Marcia Mackey, Christian Topman, Jane Veysey and Hannah West
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, however, the Tony will begin a new life as a floating arts venue for York.
The barge was bought by The Arts Barge project, a community collective of performers and arts enthusiasts, a couple of years ago. She'll be moored at Foss basin for the next 15 months while she's converted for use as a 'multi-arts venue', before eventually finding a mooring on the banks of the Ouse itself.
As a floating arts venue, the barge will be a place for everyone to enjoy, says Marcia Mackey, one of the Arts Barge directors. "Project organisers aim to build a venue where you’ll feel equally at home and welcome whether you’re an artist who’s performing, you just want to enjoy a coffee while you soak up the atmosphere or you’ve bought a ticket for a gig or event."
But the arts barge project needs to raise the funds to draw up detailed designs and plans, then get planning permission.
They're already raised more than £13,000, and reckon another £10,000 will be enough to get them through the planning phase of the project.
"The funds raised will be used for designs, drawings and preparation work needed in order to submit the planning application," Marcia said. "We’ve already gained great support across the city and we’re excited about making this vision a reality for York."
Proudly Indie York
York needed a bit of a pick-me-up after the Boxing day floods. Step forward the Association of York Independent Businesses - more catchily known as Proudly Indie York. It is an association of about 200 businesses who were directly or indirectly affected set up to champion Independent businesses in York. Their plan? "To develop a map locating independents, extend the current Proudly York website to cover the whole of the city and develop a range of promotions for Independent businesses," said the fundraising project lead - Johnny Hayes again.
The plan is to raise almost £26,000, which will pay for staff to visit businesses to collect their details, plus the coasts of producing 10,000 maps.
Nominate your own project
Do you have a great idea for a community project that will benefit the people of York?
If so, why not apply to have it included on York Hive?
The platform went live today with the six projects featured above.
But anyone in York can apply to submit a project for inclusion on York Hive, says Niraj Dattani, head of community development at Spacehive, which is working with Make It York to run the platform.
The only limit is that it must be a community project that will benefit people in the area, and must be related in some way to a space - whether it is a one-day festival or a go-kart race in a public space, or restoration of a building or monument.
You can find out more about applying for your project to be included on the platform here http://www.spacehive.com/initiatives/york
But do make sure you've thought things through first, says Niraj. "It’s important to think about whether people would want to support it financially and how much you want to ask for to achieve your goal," he says.
"Projects need to be for the benefit of the community where you live. The secret of success in crowdfunding is about getting the balance right between an attractive project, gaining public support and keeping the goals achievable and realistic."