Crowdfunding has successfully financed everything from video games and movies to smartwatches and 3D printers.
Now Ukrainians are using it to finance an army.
According to the BBC, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has set up a way for people to donate small amounts of money via text message; in theory, the funds will go towards equipping Ukrainian troops. “The campaign has also been hijacked by Internet mischief-makers trying to trick Russians into messaging the same number,” reported the news service.
The Ukrainians aren’t alone in attempting to crowdfund public security services. In October 2013, citizens in Oakland, California started three campaigns to raise money for security patrols. Each of those campaigns, started on crowdfunding Website Crowdtilt, wanted between $20,000 and $25,000; dozens of people contributed. While upscale neighborhoods regularly pay for private security patrols, the Oakland scenario sparked a debate over whether crowdfunding could be used to pay for a broad range of municipal projects.
But the Oakland example is also pretty small in scope—can “pure” crowdfunding pay for something truly ambitious? Although Kickstarter has earned more than a billion dollars in pledges during its existence, for example, some truly epic projects have failed to earn the necessary funds—take the case of Canonical, which only collected a fraction of the $32 million it attempted to raise for the creation of an Ubuntu-based smartphone. So it remains to be seen whether crowdfunding can successfully pay for a vital public project, like an army.
Image: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Facebook Page