WWF - Crowdsourcing Innovative new ways of funding Forest Energy Projects
The ‘WWF Finance for Energy Challenge’ was launched to identify innovative ways in which to fund forest energy programs.
Conceived by the WWF Forest Team, the Finance for Energy Open Innovation Challenge set out to uncover experiences, technologies, ideas, knowledge and methodologies from outside the conservation field that could shake up the way projects were financed.
Open to the public, the platform offered a $5,000 prize to the most promising solution, technology or approach presented. Facebook, Twitter and other social channels were used to drive awareness and to reach a new audience that WWF hadn’t had access to.
When asked what the catalyst for the campaign was, Matt Erke, Senior Program Officer for the WWF Forest Team said,
“I had heard and read interesting crowdsourcing stories from the technology sector and wanted to explore whether the same success was possible at WWF” - “With more than 85% of the biggest global brands using crowdsourcing challenges, I thought it would be great for the WWF Forest team to be part of this movement."
Crowdicity’s intuitive platform expanded reach and unlocked unique opportunities
The Forest Team aims to expand clean, renewable energy technologies that can reduce deforestation and carbon emissions,and improve quality of life in developing countries. An innovative new way in which to both raise awareness and bring in donations would be of huge benefit.
“This kind of project,” says Matt, “would usually involve extensive research, a hosted workshop or brainstorming session with colleagues, plus in-person and phone interviews with partners in the alternative energy sector.”
With the online competition, Matt was able to explore fresh thinking and ideas in a way that expanded their reach quickly and efficiently, beyond WWF staff and traditional thinking.
Rapid Idea development and evaluation
The competition ran for six weeks, during which ideas were posted and developed through a series of automated questions, idea refinement stages and approvals via subject matter experts. Ideas went through a peer voting target, then authors of promising ideas were asked to answer additional refining questions to ensure their concept was fully formed and possible at scale.
Those ideas that excited the WWF Forest Team the most were then evaluated by a panel, using a custom scorecard, to discover how feasible each would be. The winning idea from TRINE closes the gap between private capital in developed countries and companies in emerging markets. It offers an alternative financial solution to off grid projects through a fintech crowdfunding model.
TRINE were awarded $5,000 for their first-place entry and are laying the groundwork to put their idea into action.
An open conversation
The WWF Forest Team say they would use the Crowdicity platform again. Matt explained:
“Honing a clear concise challenge question early is really important. The challenge should be explained to colleagues to incorporate their feedback, and with a public challenge, a good level of marketing is necessary to drive web traffic and increase participation.”
In addition to finding an innovative new finance model for the WWF Forest Team, the public campaign served to raise awareness of their forest energy initiatives, and allowed for an open online conversation between interested parties who would normally not connect in the real world.
Following the success of the competition, TRINE and WWF Forest Team are investigating ways to work together towards expanding TRINE’s winning idea in Africa.