Saudi Arabia Global Crowdfunding Trust Fund

I have been engaged with the Riyadh UNDP office since last summer helping them develop a proposal on what initially they called a global portal to capture contributions from citizens to support development initiatives. Last November I sent a revised version to them (Saudi-crowdfunding-2012-11-06-rz) which essentially introduced the idea of crowdfunding and softened the heavy approach of the initial draft.

A few months later, and after the involvement of BERA, RBAS, RBEC and several others, a new draft arrived in my mailbox this time in the prodoc format and with title of Saudi HD fund (see: SaudiUNDP-Global HD Fund (19Jan)).

I then sent to the CO the following comments:

1. I think there is a big issue with the prodoc in terms of tying to balance technology (and innovation) and development content. There is too much emphasis on the former and perhaps too litle on the latter. As I can wear both hats at the same time (or not!), I can say that technology is the easy part. Sure, we will need to develop the ToRs for the RFP process that will need to be implemented to acquire the platform (and here I will strongly suggest we use Free/Open Source Software and even get the UNDP project that is supporting this in the kingdom involved) but that is not the central issue. Nor is the crowdsourcing platform (some side questions here relate to connecting to existing social networks such as FB, tweeter and so many others). In a sense the platform NEEDS to offer a value added that CANNOT be found on those networks and that value added is the content that we need to develop to get people to put their own cash into something that is NOT a blackhole. In this light, I will suggest to beef-up this component with additional activities that can help us have experts on board to develop content for the thematic areas and projects we want to promote. The MDGs alone are to high-level for this so more concrete ideas and real life examples are needed. In my experience people are more keen to ongoing initiatives that have been more or less successful and need additional resources to scale up that to new initiatives that can have high transactions costs and high risks of failure. SO we need to document such initiatives very well to be able to make them palatable to the general public and use innovative tools such as infographics, videos, dynamic content, etc, to make this happen…

2. I also think we need to beef up the communications and PR components. In this day and age it is essential to have a solid communications and PR strategy. I will suggest a private company is recruited to work closely with UNDP on the strategy. We will also need a communications specialist with lots of expertise on new media and ICTs to implement the strategy and also work closely with the content group to release material on the portal.

3. We stand ready to help in both of the above. On the technology, we should also recommend using a cloud service that provides 99.99% uptime and tight security. One from the region could be useful too.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Raúl

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