The image above is some of the feedback from asking my friends on twitter how Groundwork might use the service. The group I was working with were a little surprised (“wow”) by the speed and quality of the input from a network tool like this – so to Laura, Michael, Jon, Dave, Alice, Katie, Paul and Charlotte thank you – even amongst your number there was evident support and affection for the major national community and environmental charity.
The session was a general get-the-juices-flowing-see-whats-possible-start-to-get-your-head-around-whats-out-there 90 mins and to that end I think the one clear factor that emerged was that a bit of rss is needed in Groundwork towers.
The group I was working with manage grants for one of the projects and have to record and evaluate what’s being achieved, so the possibilities of digital media in terms of capturing what happens and starting a conversation about applications etc are self evident.
The conversation that really aroused my interest though hapened at the end once most people had floated away.
What if you use something like google maps to publicly share every single application you get? You put all of them on the web and tie them to a map. Green for approved red for rejected. How will this change the dynamic betwen the grant givers and the apl;licants? Will such transparency improve the system or weaken it?
It got me thinking about social media and market forces. My A Level economics teacher frequently told me that a perfect market means everyone has perfect information. Imagine a market for funding bids where everyone who is applying knows about every aplication that has happened, where they took place, whether they were approved and if not why not. Could that improve efficiency in the distribution of grants?
The folk in East Anglia might understand that their area is already saturated with approved grants – so seek support from another fund or change their plans. Groups in Northumberland might see there’s a real opportuntiy because their patch is under represented. Those who write the applications can see exactly what others have been saying so it will give them a realistic level of confidence in their ideas. Those who hand out the grants can be more easily held to account – or better still the minds of the public can be put to helping them constantly refine and improve their decision making.
Sit around it a conversation about the rights and wrongs of particular grant applications and you can begin (with careful nurturing of the online community) to crowdsource a sense of where people want to see their money being spent.
Now don’t expect Groundwork to do this tomorrow – or even at all. It is a big cultural leap for any organisation and it may not be that useful or warrant the effort. This was simply one of those conversations that went deep down into the possibilities and cultural impact of social media. But I share it as an idea. What do you think?