Why is Vinelanders Community Land Trust doing crowdfunding?

In addition to the members input and dues Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc. is ushering Missourians a new approach to affordable homeownership, and nurture more democracy in Missouri crowdfunding. We think crowdfunding is one more way to bring more of the public to public projects (affordable homeownership). Crowdfunding is a relatively new opportunity to collectively invest in projects through an online platform, even in amounts as small as $1, $5 or as large as $1 million. Think of crowdfunding like a public radio fundraising drive: anyone can give whatever amount they want and projects provide “perks” at different levels of donations to engage donors. Crowdfunding doesn’t replace other funding sources for public projects nor is it a “shadow government,” but it can be a way for all of us to participate in projects we care about like affordable homeownership. This is another way to say “yes” to public projects – not just through the actual money but also with the public stepping forward and saying, “We want to see this happen and we’re taking ownership of this project. Affordable Housing and Affordable Homeownership belongs to us, and we’re willing to see it through.” Online funding platforms make it very easy to give (and claim perks associated with the project that make the process fun!) and to share the projects you support around your community. So what better place than Vinelanders Community Land Trust, Inc., to bring Missourians the chance to share public projects around the state’s affordable homeownership crisis?

How is Vinelanders Community Land Trust crowdfunding platform different from other non-profits/crowdfunding sites?

Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc., is focused entirely on crowdfunding for public projects affordable homeownership in Missouri. The portal serves the surrounding Kansas City Mo/Ks communities! Anyone can donate to Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc., and can crowdfund from anywhere around the world, but all projects are based in Kansas City, Mo. /Kansas City Ks. (But if you’re from another state, let’s talk! We’re all about helping other states like Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, or your state started with a Self-Build community land trust.)

Do you have any criteria for what kinds of projects you post?

Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc., is most interested in crowdfunding projects that have a public purpose (affordable homeownership). We are also most interested in public projects that have no other obvious mechanisms for funding or that will benefit an Kansas City, Mo. community that doesn’t have easy access to other methods of funding.

How do people find out about the projects on Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc.?

Currently, Vinelanders Community Land Trust, Inc. membership base is growing from across the states of Missouri and Kansas who have taken their seat at the table. We share opportunities for engagement - whether it’s the members marketing, mobilizing, networking or strategizing on important decision about the state of our community. The organization will promote a civic crowdfunding campaign with the residents and members who have joined Vinelanders Community Land Trust. We’re going to work closely with home builders and partner organizations to conduct outreach and get the word out.

How is Vinelanders Community Land Trust, Inc. funded?

Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc., is a non-profit organizations and it's funded by the members and individual donations.

Are My Donations Tax Deductible?

All donations to Vinelanders Community Land Trust, Inc. are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable. Vinelanders Community Land Trust is an IRS 501(c)(3) approved database not for profit organization; our EIN is 27-2523810. You can donate directly to Vinelanders Community Land Trust, Inc. If you prefer to not make donations online mail it to our office listed below. And if you'd like to talk to us about making a donation, please contact us

How is the money collected?

The site Pay Simple provides an integrated platform for non-profit organizations like ours to collect funds. Pay Simple is PCI DSS Certified. Coalfire Systems, a VISA Qualified Security Assessor, has independently audited Pay Simple and certified that Pay Simple is PCI DSS compliant. Pay Simple None of your credit card information is stored or processed by Vinelanders Community Land Trust, Inc.; instead everything is transmitted via secure servers directly to/from banks via the Payment Card Network Interchange.

What happens if I can't find my donation receipt?

Have you looked into your junk mailbox? Donations receipts are sent from Pay Simple. If you still cannot find your receipt please let us know and we’ll request a duplicate receipt for your records.

Our taxes go to funding public projects. Why would we need crowdfunding?

When we first started talking about crowdfunding, we had the same question. But as we thought about it more, there are a couple of reasons why we think crowdfunding is appropriate for funding public projects. First, our members and decision-makers are faced with huge lists of projects (affordable homeownership) that the public wants to see happen and there just isn’t the funding for all of them. As we’ve seen the past few years, our tax dollars aren’t limitless! Second, crowdfunding can be used to show decision-makers which projects are high priorities for the public. Third, it can also be used to fill in gaps when public funds aren’t able to cover the entire cost of a project, and it can be used to leverage larger sources of funds – from both the public and private sectors. And finally, often times new and innovative projects – especially projects that cut across our traditional institutions – don’t have obvious funding streams to draw from. With crowdfunding, we have the flexibility and freedom to direct our money to specific projects that might not fit within the traditional funding models.

Doesn’t this give government an “out” to not fund projects? Can’t they just say, “Oh, these people will just raise the money themselves, so we can direct public money elsewhere?”

We think crowdfunding provides just the opposite opportunity! When the public steps forward to contribute money for a project, we send the message that we care about a project, which makes government agencies pay attention. We think crowdfunding can be used to shine a light on projects that are having a tough time getting started. Here’s where the idea of leveraging funding from different sources comes in: if we can come together to support and invest in a project we care about, then that encourages others in both the public and private sectors to also invest. Crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for co-investment and co-ownership. But, don’t worry. We’re not building a shadow government! We think the most successful crowdfunded civic projects happen when the members and the community are included from the very beginning as part of the crowdfunding campaign. This is why we think it’s important to view crowdfunding as an act of collaborative governance, as an easy way for the public to invest in public projects alongside the non-profit and business sectors.

How can crowdfunding be seen as a form of civic engagement if it’s just people giving money?

Crowdfunding is a social activity, and a fun one at that! Its success relies on building and maintaining relationships over time. Important conversations about affordable homes, public spaces and efforts arise from crowdfunds: both online through blog posts and comments and through other platforms of social media like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook and in the conversations that families and friends have across the country. Crowdfunding for civic projects can help build community by growing the public’s sense of ownership of a project. When you give to a crowdfund project, you’re becoming part of that project’s team because you’ve got a resource to provide (even if that resource is just $1 or simply sharing the crowdfunding link on Facebook). You’ve taken an action to invest in a public project and now you’re part of it. Because crowdfunding is built on an online, social platform, it’s so much easier for the public to stay updated and to learn about in-person events (like a design studio for the nonprofit) and to participate even more.

Aren’t we already doing this kind of thing for public projects? We held a fundraiser such as Savers, Home Depot Gift Card and Lowes Gift Card. What’s different about crowdfunding?

Asking the public to dig into our pockets and give for projects in the public or civic sphere is nothing new. PTAs have been doing it for decades; private individuals and foundations have been giving money to create affordable housing for years. What is new is that we now have a whole host of online tools that streamline the activity of investing. With crowdfunding, you simply have another opportunity to be civically active. On top of that, online crowdfunding platforms provide a really easy way to spread the word about a project so anyone can participate by allowing you to share videos, pictures, and updates. Crowdfunding tools allow the campaign team to directly show the results and to stay in touch with you and the rest of the team. Vinelanders Community Land Trust Inc., mission is to stop generational poverty by implementing the self-build housing philosophy from Europe, Scotland and the Netherlands, and crowdfunding is another way to do that.

Lots of public projects are really expensive and most crowdfunds I’ve seen have been small – under $20,000. How can we raise enough money for the projects that we really need?

Across all the different platforms and types of projects, successful crowdfunds have raised as little as $1,000 and as much as $10 million. Of course, most projects (99%) are trying to raise less than $100,000. Crowdfunding is still a relatively new approach, so every day new projects emerge and more people learn about how it works. We’re not really sure how effective crowdfunding can be for really expensive public projects, but we know it’s a powerful tool for smaller projects or for pieces of larger projects. That’s why we see crowdfunding as just another piece in the puzzle for bringing public projects to successful completion; we don’t think it’s the only answer for solving our public problem of affordable homeownership! It’s our goal to continue to experiment and test out crowdfunding in a variety of different public projects and with different goals. Along the way, we’ll all learn together how to best co-invest our money. We hope you’ll join us in this grand public effort!


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