Crowdfunding the public sector: community municipal investments

Case study

The challenge

In order to deliver their net-zero strategies for communities, local public bodies need new financial models to plug the increasing funding gaps.  

The solution

Local public bodies are underfunded, whilst the UK’s ‘alternative finance sector’ is worth £9.7 billion. Professor Mark Davis’ research team worked with businesses, government and civil society groups to assess whether a crowdfunding model might work to plug the public sector funding gap. His research led to the launch of a new place-based financial product: the Community Municipal Investment (CMI).  

The impact

Davis collaborated with councils and NHS bodies in Bristol, Isle of Wight, Kingswinford, and Exeter. West Berkshire Council launched the UK’s first Community Municipal Investment in 2020 raising £1 million for a solar project for schools. Warrington and Islington Councils subsequently raised £1 million each through the CMI model for their local net zero infrastructure projects. Five other local authorities will launch in 2022, including Leeds. With the potential to be rolled out across every local authority in the UK, CMIs could unlock £3 billion for councils to finance net-zero initiatives that neutralise or eliminate carbon emissions such as solar panels, electric cars and energy efficient retrofits of social housing. With a minimum investment of just £5, CMIs are empowering communities to invest in local sustainable projects that benefit the whole community and the environment.