What is Crowdacting?
Crowdacting is 'coordinated, conditional, collective action to achieve a positive social and/or ecological goal'. Or, in simpler terms, with crowdacting we ask:
Would you take action if you knew that a [hundred/thousand/million] people would also do it?
The concept is quite simple: It's very much like crowdfunding, but people commit actions instead of money. For instance, someone can start a project where he/she proposes: "If 1000 people commit to changing to a 100% renewable energy provider, we'll all do it!". This takes away the feeling that your actions are just a drop in the ocean. Your actions are part of something much bigger, and our coordinated actions can potentially have massive positive impact.
In practice, crowdacting follows three steps:
- A project initiator (this could be any individual or organization) launches a project (e.g. at www.collaction.org). The initiator defines an action (see examples here) sets a target (minimum number of participants) and a deadline (a date before which the target needs to be met).
- Project supporters commit to taking the proposed action on the condition that the target is met (i.e. there are enough people other people that commit to taking the action).
- When the target is met before the deadline, all supporters act collectively. If the target is not met, nobody needs to act (but of course they can choose to act individually anyway).
The term was first coined in 2015 by a nonprofit called CollAction, which was founded to address collective action problems by promoting this new approach. This organization has also set up the first official crowdacting platform in the world, www.collaction.org. CollAction.org functions both as a platform and curator (a bit like 'the Kickstarter for crowdaction'). They have defined a set of criteria that potential projects need to meet before they can be posted on the platform.
Although the term crowdacting in its current meaning is new, the underlying concept is not. Obviously, there are plenty of other examples of collective actions that contain elements of crowdacting. Think for instance of boycotts, demonstrations, collective bargaining initiatives, or petition websites. The difference is the fact that crowdacting combines three elements: 1) (Explicitly) Conditional (it only happens if a set target is met); 2) It’s for social and/or ecological good; and 3) the action goes beyond signing a petition.