In 2006, Wired magazine published an article called The Rise of Crowdsourcing. Jeff Howe, the article’s author, is also credited with inventing that term that refers to using multiple sources or contributors of content, ideas, or resources to carry out a project. Since then organizations like Innocentive, dedicated to technological innovation; iStockphoto, a photo site; Or Current TV, a television channel that used to broadcast programs made by ordinary people, defunct in 2013, used the power of the crowds to create new pharmaceutical patents, sell low-cost photographs, or create a mini-documentary of punk rock.
Organizations that work in defense of human rights, the environment or to reduce poverty levels have also used crowdsourcing techniques to achieve their goals. The MIT IDEAS Global Challenge, out of Massachusetts, has created an online platform that allows different teams to propose solutions to bring clean water, sanitation, or education to marginalized communities. In their first ten years, the IDEAS competition channeled more than $ 260,000 to over sixty teams in twenty-eight countries, improving the living conditions of tens of thousands of people.
With the idea that each person can have a real and significant impact on the planet, Citizen Effect created online tools for each person to become a Citizen Philanthropist, so that with the help of friends and family a group of people in Beirut Can help a family in Haiti, for example. By donating $ 5 or $ 5.00, Citizen Effect kept track of project progress, giving donors feedback on the effect their help has on people’s lives.
Using a corporate sponsorship model, the design firm IDEO seeks ideas from the general public to design solutions for people in developing countries through its Open IDEO platform. They recently organized a project to design learning tools for students in poor countries and received 269 ideas, 109 design proposals and ten finalist ideas that the sponsoring organization implemented in the countries where it works.
Other examples of massive collaborations for the common good include Jumo.com, now Global Giving, founded by one of the creators of Facebook; DESIGN 21: Social Design Network, supported by UNESCO (no longer in operation); Charity: Water, which has funded 3,196 potable water projects with donations from the public, and Architecture for Humanity founded by architect Cameron Sinclair, which operated for sixteen years, until 2015.
Note: Some edits were made to the original article. Some organizations mentioned are no longer in operation: Citizen Effect, Design21, and Architecture for Humanity.