GovFresh Q&A: Neighbor.ly

Neighbor.ly
Neighbor.ly

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What

Neighbor.ly

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Neighbor.ly is a civic crowdfunding platform for U.S. cities and civic-minded organizations. We help fund creative civic projects in communities that care.

What problem does Neighbor.ly solve for government?

With dwindling city budgets, Neighbor.ly provides a way for cities to pre-capitalize tough projects instead of relying on borrowed capital. Every dollar donated up-front means less a city will pay in interest. We’re beginning to steer the platform into a mechanism for cities and civic organizations to come up with a local dollar match to win federal dollars, an increasingly common requirement when looking for federal funds.

What’s the story behind starting Neighbor.ly?

Neighbor.ly launched on July 7, 2012.

The founders are Jase Wilson (CEO), Briston Davidge (COO), Chris Parrott (CFO), Shaul Jolles (CBDO) and Patrick Hosty (Advisor).

Crowdfunding civic infrastructure is a centuries old practice that the Internet has helped to simplify. Neighbor.ly isn’t a new idea, but a variation on platforms like Kickstarter and Spacehive. The concept was sparked earlier this year after founder Jase Wilson attended a presentation by Rob Goodspeed on civic crowdsourcing in other parts of the world. Soon after that, he attended a public meeting in Kansas City, MO to discuss parking ordinances along a proposed downtown streetcar line. The meeting kept getting off topic and triggered a discussion on how the city would fund said transit line. Finally, a conversation between Patrick Hosty and another Kansas Citian took place about a problem with a local bond deal in which both approved of only one aspect of the deal but not the other, causing them to not vote at all. As a direct response to that conversation, Neighbor.ly was created to let people vote with their dollars to support the civic projects that they really care about. Tough or creative projects that likely wouldn’t receive government funding but would have a positive impact on the community.

What are its key features?

Neighbor.ly works directly with entities on projects that are sometimes contingent on a vote or other process that may decide the fate of a project, even if a project is fully funded. If the project is greenlit on our side but fails to go through on the city’s side, money is directly refunded back to the donors. We’re finding that social media is really powerful when engaging communities. Twitter and Facebook are baked into the platform, so when you donate to a project you’re passionate about, you can share it with your networks and show them the good you’re doing in your community. It’s a really great way to rally supporters around a common cause.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

There is no upfront cost, just a 5% platform fee. For every dollar donated, we keep a nickel. We are exploring the idea of consulting with organizations to help them develop a strong campaign in which there would be a consulting fee.

How can those interested connect with you?

Interested parties can reach us at howdy(at)neighbor.ly or by visiting our website at http://neighbor.ly. We’re also on Twitter (@neighborly) and Facebook (facebook.com/neighbordotly).

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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