Doesn’t it seem natural to include society in the realization of CSR projects – after all, CSR projects benefit society – they might as well come to fruition with the help of society. The internet offers an enormous volume of data and communication possibilities: transparency and networked structures mean that peer production, collaborations and interest-focused network communities are a natural outcome. With a summons for direct or indirect support and participation in a CSR project, a whole crowd of internet users can be quickly found to participate in a project.
But let’s step back a moment. Crowdsourcing is a word combination from the words crowd and outsourcing. In contrast to outsourcing, crowdsourcing does not mean the outplacement of company tasks and structures to third-party companies. It means using the intelligence and work force of a “crowd” of Internet users.
The most prominent example is “Wikipedia,” the free online encyclopedia where Internet users contribute their knowledge to articles. But there are also a number of professional crowdsourcing providers, companies which develop their own ‘crowd’ of users and offer a platform where both private persons and companies can access the crowd to complete projects. For creative tasks like logo or t-shirt design, would-be designers compete to get the winning look and a prize for doing so. Other crowdsourcing platforms share micropayments among many users. A previously defined fee is paid to every Internet user who correctly performs tasks in the form of microjobs, such as the creation of short texts, translations, tagging, categorization, surveys and web research. It is impressive what the crowd moves and achieves using the Internet. Yet it is awe-inspiring and gratifying when the power of the crowd is used to realize or promote non-profit CSR projects. There are already a number of very positive examples:
OpenIDEO.com is an online platform for creatives who want to make things happen. The platform can be used by companies for a licence fee who want to use the creative crowd for the realization their own CSR projects.The crowd develops ideas and solutions together up to complete concepts for projects and challenges in social areas such as famine aid, improved education in developing countries, water supply and medical care.
Greenwala is a community site aimed at people who want to make the world a bit more ecological. Users tend to already lead a “green” lifestyle. This is a site where the community can exchange tips and hints about ecologically valuable and sustainable products and discuss the CSR activities of companies in the environmental area as well as the environmental compatibility of manufactured products. In addition, this site gives its users the possibility of actively taking part in “green” campaigns or supporting them in a variety of different ways.
Wheelmap is a project created by SOZIALHELDEN e.V. Everyone can use the interactive map at http://www.wheelmap.org to find, enter and appraise (using a traffic light system) places that are easily accessible for wheelchair users worldwide. The objective of the map that has been available since 2010 is to help wheelchair users and mobility-impaired persons to organize their day more efficiently. Wheelmap is also available as a free app for mobile devices. The map can therefore also be used on the go using a smartphone.
The Christmas imp roulette from Spieltz
The CSR project “Christmas imp roulette” is an initiave of the “Communication Workshop Cologne” and the Spieltz board game publishing house. In an Internet appeal, users were asked to participate in the creation of the game content and to submit a picture of an imp as well as write a short story about an imp. The proceeds from the sale of the game went in full to an aid project that builds schools in Burundi.
Ushahidi.com collects on-the-ground news updates in a crisis. Volunteers from the crowd send information to the platform about crisis situations such as earthquakes, oil pollution and political unrest using multiple channels including email, SMS or Twitter. Ushahidi verifies the information and then visualizes it on a map. This gives relief organizations a quick overview where possible victims can be found and where food and further aid is needed.
This non-profit crowdsourcing company provides employment to people living in poverty in developing countries by giving them work that can be performed using a computer. Companies can use the Samasource platform to upload and process files as projects for tasks in the areas of text and content, data mining and tagging as well as transcriptions of audio and video files. The Samasource team breaks down projects into individual tasks and distributes the jobs.
Clickworker is one of the leading providers of professional crowdsourcing using the potential of a large and international crowd, its technology and services to support and realize social and ecological projects.