MML #4 – How Crowdfunding Builds Community with Patronicity

Renaissance_Unity_Brown_TopAndy Meisner Treasurer TOPMML #4 – How gallowaycollens1Crowdfunding Builds Community with Patronicity

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 23, 2016)

Mackinaw Island, MI – “When most people think of cities, they think of buildings, streets and cars. But when I think of cities I think of people… Where people go and where people meet is at the core of community,” said Ebrahim Varachia, co-founder of the crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

Patronicity partners with communities to engage citizens in funding projects that matter to them.  The website sets a goal, gives communities a central place to share the idea, gives a place for donations, and – thanks to a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development MBREW draft oneCorporation and other entities – offers matching grants for the monies raised.  The Michigan Municipal League also helps promote the projects.

The City of Royal Oak partnered with Patronicity in 2015  with a goal of raising $60,000 that would be matched for a total of $120,000 for a technology themed “Smart park” in an under-utilized city-owned space next to a parking deck.  In just 30 days they exceeded their goal and raised $100,000 from the public.  Features of the park are set to include wifi, a rain garden, public art, and chess and checkers.

The City of Berkley worked with MML and Patronicity to fund their Robina Project, closing off a street in order to create a community hang-out place where there can be community concerts, games and other activities.

In 2012 there had been one project, funding a film project that eventually made it to the Sundance Festival.   Since that time there have been 75 projects, including parks, trails, community spaces and public art.Pledge_side_blue

Varachia knows that “with challenges come opportunities.”  He talked about how stagnant communities come to life around Patronicity projects.

“Dozens of places through the state have been transformed,” Varachia said as he addressed attendees of the Michigan Municipal League Convention earlier this month.  Beyond the pride of accomplishing the projects, comes the pride of seeing the projects touch the hearts of the community.  “People are excited to be part of this,” he said.  “Donors are more connected to these spaces, so they are better used and better maintained.  They have a sense of ownership.”

They also have found that people who have not been engaged in the community are drawn in by these campaigns and go on to do more.  “A more involved and active citizen is a happy citizen,” Varachia said.

garden16_Steven Gold_SeptThe bliss of success is also deeply personal for him.  Like many who have taken big risks to accomplish good tasks, Varachia had a major struggle in life that put into perspective what was really important.

On a relatively normal day, Varachia was driving along when a man who was fleeing the police t-boned his vehicle.  He was hospitalized for seven weeks and gone through eight surgeries.  The recovery was long, hard and depressing.

“I really wanted to leave the state.  I wanted a break. But as I was talking to Chris [Blauvelt], my business partner, about wanting to leave, I thought back to the impact we had, even though it was small.  I thought of what could happen.  I had no idea what it could grow into. So I stayed,” he said.

Partnering with the Michigan Municipal League and the MEDC took a great idea and gave it ctechadthe support it needed to thrive.  Now Varachia and his team are on the verge of 25 projects in communities of all size, including Traverse City, Alpena and Three Oaks Village.

To learn more about Patronicity visit

The Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The MML has supported the oc115 with a scholarship to the conference.  Learn more about MML


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Andy meisner Treasurer BOTTOM tempRenaissance_Unity_Brown_Bottom

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