Online Competitions: Calling All Community Problem Solvers!

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Event Details

Crowd-sourcing tools and the use of online competitions (also known as “challenges”) to spark innovation and community problem solving have been mushrooming across the country. Advertisers use them to generate creative and design ideas; Silicon Valley uses them to innovate technology products; even students turn to crowd-sourcing for help on their term papers! Did you know that the Obama administration has sponsored 159 online competitions to crowd-source solutions for some of government’s most complex problems (and with cash prizes, too, not just tours of the Blue Room)? As we have seen with the success of InCommons Challenges and others in Minnesota, including the popular Minnesota Idea Open, competitions can give everyday citizens a voice in solving community problems. They are also a vehicle through which nonprofit and philanthropic organizations can recognize great ideas or work that is underway, build affinity among their stakeholders, and deepen the impact they have on issues that matter to them and their constituencies.

In this session, we will explore the power (and limitations!) of competitions as a tool for community engagement and grantmaking. Additionally, participants will learn the following:

  • Ways that competitions are helping to initiate a new, community-based network called InCommons (supported by the Bush Foundation)
  • Examples of effective competitions, including media that are a part of them
  • Top lessons from InCommons Challenges, including the 2010 Collaboration Challenge and 2011 Minnesota Community Pride Showcase, and those of InCommons’ partners.

The New York Times recently examined the practice of using competitions and prizes to generate solutions: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/prizes-with-an-eye-toward-the-future/#more-122279.

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About the Presenter

Lindsay Hanson

Lindsay Hanson is a principal with Grassroots Solutions. In her role at the firm, Lindsay plans, coordinates, and evaluates grassroots organizing and engagement programs for clients across the country. She has particular expertise in designing and conducting assessments of campaigns, grassroots initiatives, and civic engagement programs; applying a grassroots engagement lens to marketing; and in helping clients develop and harmonize online and offline organizing strategies. In recent years, Lindsay has provided strategic oversight on the design and implementation of six online competitions for clients such as the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, InCommons/the Bush Foundation, and the Minnesota Community Foundation.

Grassroots Solutions is a consulting firm that focuses on getting people engaged and keeping them engaged in the issues that matter most to them. Since 1999, Grassroots Solutions has worked across the country with nonprofit and labor organizations and their funders, political campaigns, corporations, and government entities to expand their grassroots capacity, win elections or legislative victories, address community concerns, or position brands on the market.

Event Materials

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