IOBYfunctions

Previously, I introduced IOBY and initiatives to raise a generation of green leaders. In my review of the site, I realised that there are various positive and negative benefits of having these environmentally sustainable projects on IOBY:

Pros of environmental sustainability projects on IOBY:

Increase involvement: physically (volunteers), mentally and financially

  • Doing acts of charity have shown to increase participate’s personal wellbeing [1]. (This will be further discussed in my next post!)

Communities become safer, greener and more liveable

  • Even for environmental education projects, research has shown that teaching children environmental literacy can benefit the community as children develop the value of environmental consciousness and bring it up in their conversations and decision-making process. [2]
  • In my neighbourhood, I have neighbours who grew their own sugarcane, vegetables and banana trees outside my house. It got my grandma to grow her own curry leaf plant, aloe vera plant and papaya tree. These made the street greener and, the nicest thing of all is the little exchanges that happens. We often received sugarcane that we would cut up and munch on!

Increased empowerment through diversity of projects on one platform

  • Funders and volunteers can choose what they feel for and support the cause
  • Individual crowdsourcers have a platform to express their interest for causes such as building a community garden and more

Inspires more community crowdsourcing sites

  • Ioby.com was developed because it was first inspired by emerging crowdsourcing sites [3] Ioby can inspire dense cities to adopt these crowdsourcing models (maybe Singapore can consider this too!).

Cons of environmental sustainability project on IOBY:

Funding goes to more emotional projects

Often, there are projects that use emotional words and photos. Research on charities has shown that emotional photos (especially of children), does help charities perform better than others [4]. Also, emotional photos that display negative emotions generated more donations. These psychological behaviours are pretty universal, and I see myself drawn to cute images and being guilt-tripped/getting upset when exposed to negative ones.

  • To test out this theory on IOBY, I applied the filters: (1) limited to New York, (2) both open and completed projects, and (3) limited to education projects (in order to limit the scop). 31 projects were shown. [5]
    • 6 out of 7 projects that showed kids photos achieved their goals
      • PS33 IOBY.jpg
    • Projects with photos that were blur and are icons/ text still have a lot of funds to raise:
      • M.O.R.E..jpgVillage Green Brand Family.jpg

Participation and fundings go more to socially sustainable projects

Larger projects garner more attention then others [6]. Social sustainability projects seem to have more hype and excitement. These social sustainability projects tend to guarantee people an experience that benefits themselves directly.

  • Example 1: Groove Miami Project- Group dance project to promote better health through exercise
  •  groove-miami1.jpg

From a cost-benefit analysis, funding for an event that I could go for seem to have more benefits than helping someone plant a garden. At times, when I don’t have a tight connection with causes, these social events are more attractive.

Participates and funders cannot be fully efficient in making a decision due to the lack of information

  • Besides emotional images and words that affect choice, participates may find it tough to compare projects and their benefits because of lack of information. Some projects lack a detailed description of what volunteers will be doing, although the cause is good and requires more urgent help then other projects.
  • Personally, the varied amount of information made it hard for me to do a proper comparison between projects. Some projects have every detail of its budget laid out. Others had an ambiguous description. If I were to choose the project by a specific cause, it wouldn’t be that difficult. However, if I had a sum of money to donate, and I have to make a rational decision, the only cues I can rely on is the amount of information that I can deduce my answer from.

People may still have the perception that they are not responsible for the sustainability of the environment

tumblr_lz5c1owy6c1rn95k2o1_500
I know this ain’t a laughing matter but, in truth, many people do feel this way
  • According to Fairbanks in the US, material comfort remains a priority which includes food, housing, schooling and appliances. Furthermore, citizens of this capitalistic society have been raised to think that overconsumption is good [7]  and not see the need to be environmental.
  • Slow pick up rate of crowdsourcing sites. Davies describes that “Civic crowdfunding remains too new to be seen as a natural part of participating in one’s community. Currently it is a very intentional form of participation, and is not an ambient feature of the participatory landscape.” [D] People need to slower pick up the value of environmental consciousness in order to allow crowdsourcing to be a community norm. I understand the inertia to change because I, too, am struggling from it. The need to break from the norm can be perceived as the act of being robbed off a “privilege”.

 

Crowdsourcing sites like IOBY may not be perfect but it shouldn’t stop individuals from using it. It does lack some features (which I may cover more comprehensively in the future) but its online-website nature allows it to be modified easily! With more feedback, modifications, and an active push by the people, IOBY could revolutionalize how communities are built.

Thank you for reading my blog 😀 do share with me any pros/cons you may have thought about that is not in the article! Through this analysis backed with additional research, it got me to question what motivates people to participate as volunteers and to fund projects. As such, my next post will be analysing the motivations behind individual’s participation!


Citations

[1] Keyes, Corey L. M. (Ed); Haidt, Jonathan (Ed), (2003). Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived. , (pp. 227-247). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, xx, 335 pp.

[2] Phillips, K. (2011). The Diffusion of Environmental Literacy in an American Urban Community Through Children. Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Theses. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1046&context=envstudtheses

[3] Ogburn, S. (2009, May 29). An interview with the innovators behind ioby.org. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://grist.org/article/2009-05-28-interview-ioby/

[4] Burt, C., & Strongman, K. (2004). USE OF IMAGES IN CHARITY ADVERTISING: IMPROVING DONATIONS AND COMPLIANCE RATES. International Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 8(8), 571-580. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.512.2664&rep=rep1&type=pdf

[5] https://www.ioby.org/projects/browse?f[0]=im_field_project_impact_areas%3A2&f[1]=city%3ANew%20York

[6] Davies, R. (2014). Civic crowdfunding as a marketplace for participation in urban development.

[7] Fairbanks, Sandra Jane. “Environmental Goodness aand the Challenge of American Culture.” Ethics & The Environment. 15.2 (2010): 80-101. Print.

 


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