The term crowdsourcing was only coined in 2005 and is already in frequent daily use. We may have used the term volunteering in the past, but now in the online world we can potentially access a lot more people. Crowdsourcing can be used to access large numbers of people to raise money, brainstorm ideas, collect information or get various types of work shared out amongst a number of people. Even the term crowdvoting has emerged as the way a website may gather the opinions of large numbers of people. Many other versions of this have emerged, that are explained on sites such as Wikipedia. Crowdsourcing can help to share out mundane work to many people by paying small amounts for each task completed. Payments may be as small as a point of a (US) cent, but given enough tasks, this can help a person earn a living. Documents, such as funding proposals, can be written entirely online with many people unknown to the main writer contributing their knowledge and experience. In online chat rooms, experienced technical people often provide their knowledge free of charge to others who ask questions.
Crowdfunding refers to the collection of small amounts of money from a large number of people. Each donor only gives a small amount, but if the idea is popular and can attract a large enough number of people, the result can fund the start up of a business. It could fund a social development project like renovating a school that really needs it. Fundrise, a crowdfunding website is reported to have raised US$31 million! The company invests these funds in hotels and other developments on behalf of the investors. Not all crowdsourcing sites are therefore based on donations. There are a few websites that specialise in raising funds for small businesses and projects such as Indiegogo, RocketHub, Peerbackers and Kickstarter.
Whether looking for new ideas, a solution to a challenge or raising a small business loan, the strength of the crowd may be just what is needed.
Submitted on 2 June 2014. First published on AfricaEducation.org.
Crowdsourcing makes light work