We invest time in personal relationships. We enjoy having a bit of time to ourselves. We use it to earn money. How much our time is worth depends entirely on how we use it. On the EcoCrowd crowdfunding platform, users have the opportunity to donate their time – for a good cause.
Back in 1982, under the motto “Hope through action,” the German Environmental Foundation declared its goal to promote environmental protection initiatives and environmental awareness. In 2015, it then launched the “EcoCrowd” project, a crowdfunding platform that exclusively supports sustainable projects and is the first of its kind in Germany.
The platform has already raised a total of €300,000 and financed more than 70 projects. Any project hoping to find support on EcoCrowd first has to be carefully scrutinized according to specific guidelines designed to check any claim to sustainability. In addition to output, for example, input into the projects also plays a role here. To ensure that the use of sustainable concepts and resources creates added value for the environment, the resources used should be manufactured greenly, procured locally, recycled or renewable.
What is crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a special project financing method. If someone has a great idea for a project but lacks the financial means to turn it into a reality, they can go online to appeal for financial support. Like with donations, supporters receive a small “thank you” for their contribution in the form of a post card, the finished product or a donation receipt. It is essential to state the reason for the project, the funding target and the period over which the money is to be raised.
Unlike with conventional crowdfunding initiatives, however, it is not just money that is donated at EcoCrowd. What makes EcoCrowd special is that you can also donate your time, for example, by investing two hours of your time in PR work or engaging in some other form of voluntary work. EcoCrowd also employs a “flexible funding” model, which means that projects still receive the amount raised even if the funding target is not reached within the financing phase. Since every project is for a good cause, founder Jörg Sommer wanted to ensure that not a single donation goes to waste. He believes that, even if the total target amount is not achieved, the money raised will still often be sufficient to turn at least part of the project into a reality. This is a major benefit for startup founders and those seeking investment because backers of unsuccessful campaigns would otherwise typically get their money back and the founders would have nothing.
The concept of donating time
The concept of donating time is enjoying something of a resurgence, especially here in Germany. Since 2014, around 31 million people in Germany have volunteered in their free time. This figure was calculated on the basis of the fourth volunteer survey conducted by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Volunteering currently plays an important role in Germany, with clubs and associations doing the most work here.
In other voluntary organizations, NGOs and foundations, time donations replace contributions in kind and cash payments. Through betterplace.org, Caritas or various protestant social welfare organizations, you can find the form of volunteering that suits you.
There is more than one kind of sustainable project
The potential applications of sustainable projects are as diverse as the projects themselves. Whether people, climate, energy or resource deployment, all these areas offer tremendous potential for sustainable activity and improvements. There is still time, for example, to support the construction of the Zukunftshaus – or house of the future – on EcoCrowd before the end of November.
So what is behind the Zukunftshaus? The founders of this project want to build a house together that makes sustainable consumption part of everyday life. In the Zukunftshaus, people lend, replace, buy and repair all under one roof, creating the ideal infrastructure for a sustainable lifestyle. The association behind the project believes that temporary swaps, a single fair trade or packaging-free shop and the occasional rental service are nothing more than isolated solutions that require a lot of time and money and are difficult to integrate into the average person’s everyday life. To improve the current situation, the first step is to create a future network comprising shops, associations and other institutions to support the subsequent construction of the planned property.
There is certainly no shortage of ideas for the Zukunftshaus. In addition to organizing green services such as banks and energy service providers, plans are in place for a cashless exchange model that will be financed through sponsoring and focus on a different theme or issue every two or three weeks. In addition, a café offering regional food and a co-working space inside the house are designed to provide a forum for cultural activities, networking and the sharing of ideas.
As you can see, crowdfunding has many facets. In addition to the financing of startup projects, it offers a wealth of opportunities to volunteer, work for a good cause and use your time to do something truly worthwhile.