How Rotary Ideas is changing the landscape of crowdsourcing

Students at Libis Talisay Elementary School in Caloocan City, Philippines with their newly distributed eyeglasses.
Courtesy of the Rotary Club of Sampaguita-Grace Park

Lina Aurelio and Peter Audino had something the other one wanted. Rotary Ideas helped them find each other.

Aurelio’s club was looking for $3,000 to buy eyeglasses for needy children in the Philippines. Audino’s club, located in the United States, had exactly that much money earmarked for an international service project.

“We searched Rotary Ideas for a project that fit our budget, one we thought would be effective if supported,” says Audino, international projects committee chair for the Rotary Club of Hyannis in Massachusetts. The eye project in the Philippines met their criteria so they contacted them. “We’re very happy with our choice,” he adds.

More than 300 schoolchildren at two elementary schools in Caloocan City received eye exams and new glasses because of the partnership forged through Rotary Ideas. It marks the first project to be fully funded and completed using Rotary’s crowdsourcing platform.

Rotary Ideas helps clubs connect for funding, volunteers, partnerships, and in-kind donations. Where once they had to rely on Rotary to make this connection -- either through ProjectLINK or by phone or email -- clubs can now post their needs and find projects to support themselves. More than 83 projects have been featured on Rotary Ideas since it launched in August 2013.

And unlike other crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Rotary Ideas emphasizes partnerships over simply funding.

“Most crowdfunding tools are only about getting money,” says Kristin Brown, service connections manager at Rotary International. “With Rotary Ideas, we’re expanding that concept to provide a platform for matching clubs to donors, volunteers, and partnerships.”

Throughout the eye project, Aurelio, who serves as Foundation chair for the Rotary Club of Sampaguita-Grace Park in Makati City, sent Audino and his club updates and photos showing students taking eye exams and wearing their new glasses. Both Audino and Aurelio agree they will continue to use Rotary Ideas to find support for their own projects as well as to help other clubs.

“Rotary Ideas helped us show Rotarians abroad the urgent needs of children whose parents can’t afford to pay for eyeglasses,” says Aurelio, whose club has posted other projects on Rotary Ideas with similar success. “We’re thankful for this new website,” she says.

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