What? New Zealanders crowdfunded $1.7 million to purchase a private half-mile long beach property and turn it over to the local government as part of a park. The 17-acre property was owned by an indebted businessman who allowed public access to the beach. When the property went up for sale, New Zealanders feared a new owner might cut-off access to the beach. In response 40,000 people raised the money to buy the land and turn the area into a park, with $254,000 coming from the New Zealand government.
So what? This crowdfunding instance could signal a shift in how governments and citizens prioritize projects and acquire public goods. In the future, before committing to a project, governments may use crowdfunding to encourage constituencies to show their interest as a form of direct democracy. Moreover, rather than using classical tools such as taxation or user fees, governments may use crowdfunding as an additional form of income to acquire and provide public goods. The decentralized and dis-aggregated nature of crowdfunding is different than traditional lobbying in that it draws its power from grass-roots participation, rather than typical top-down processes in governance. Due to crowdfunding's scalability and ease-of-use it may increasingly empower grassroots communities to directly pressure governments into funding specific projects.
Source: Fast Company - New Zealand Crowdfunds $1.7million To Buy A Private Beach And Give It To The Public