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Love this post on Crowdsourcing data! Another good example is in this Seed Magazine article: - the future of crowdsourcing information has so much potential (especially when it comes to identification and data collection.)I love witnessing this using #nwf when it comes to wildlife watching but I see it integrated even more in the future. What do you think?

Beth Kanter

I love that example! What did you learn from it that you have applied to your own work?

Scarlett Swerdlow


Thank you for this post. Crowdsourcing was one of those social media terms I have heard a lot, but have never stopped to think about. The timing of your post is perfect because our organization is starting to think about how we can more effectively engage our network—and in new ways.

Crowdsourcing is something we already do to an extent (surveys, focus groups, facilitated conversations with stakeholder groups). That said, it seems like crowdsourcing is all about openness, which our efforts haven't necessarily been. I see so much potential for a group like ours—which is grassroots and statewide—to use crowdsourcing to develop stronger programs, build support, and reach a wider, more diverse audience than the usual suspects.

I'm going to check out Howe's book. Any other resources or case studies you'd recommend geared towards nonprofits? I'll keep following comments on this post.


Nisha Thompson

Sunlight Foundation launched Transparency Corps. That is made up of just crowdsourcing projects.

We have also done several in the past.

Definitely with mixed success. It really depends on how the task is set up.

Nisha Thompson
Sunlight Foundation

Stacey Monk


I love the blog format with your weekly topics - really compelling content from a lot of great people.

I'd suggest one caution on crowdsourcing with regard to nonprofits, which I mentioned in my post at Often online communities crowdsource the selection/design of social change initiatives that seek to impact or transform offline communities. When the online crowds are representative of offline communities, this seems fine. What about when the online crowd bears no resemblance, or has minimal or no participation, by the offline community? Are those with the upper hand in the digital divide making decisions without real involvement by those they intend to "help"? I'd simply suggest that we need to be cautious to avoid building an imperialist, technocratic web - where those with access and social media savvy get the power to make decisions on behalf of those without.

I'm not naive enough to suggest that we wait to implement crowdsourcing initiatives until everyone's online (although we're all hopeful that's sooner than later), but when using online tools to select or design programs that will impact communities that aren't yet well-represented online, nonprofits and funders should provide alternative, mobile, offline or localized, opportunities to participate.

I'd love to hear more about crowdsourcing by collaborative crowds - in which both the donor/supporter community and the community of impact collaborate to find, select, fund, design, develop and implement social change initiatives.

Good luck with your book!!


check out - He's written quite a bit on crowdsourcing and problem solving.

A good example:

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