Crowdsourcing for Miscellaneous Expenses

There are few limitations on how crowdsourcing can be used to increase productivity, engage a community or raise funds.


The power of the crowd can be harnessed to reach almost any objective Some of these methods are less obvious than other but just as effective. Contests within the public sector and online customer service forums are just a few of the ways in which crowdsourcing is used daily by governments and citizens alike.

Essentially, crowdsourcing occurs any time a large group is tapped for their opinion, skills, time or services. Although not every scenario is best suited for crowdsourcing, many projects and companies can save money by using the crowd. Before you begin your next endeavor, learn more about the unique ways you can crowdsource your ideas or get involved yourself.

Public sector crowdsourcing

The public sector is reliant on set budgets and a mixture of state and federal funding. Depending on the scope of a project, they may not have the resources to implement a venture or research possible solutions to pressing public problems. Crowdsourcing allows local governments and public-sector organizations to tap into the opinions of local residents and seek solutions without dipping into their funds.

Local Problem Solving

A local government can use crowdsourcing to collect free data from their constituents. For example, if the local officials are looking to gain data on which roads they need to repair, or which freeways need to be expanded, they can task the public with collecting data and relaying information back to the government. Citizens will benefit from the program in the long run, so few incentives need to be issued. Contests are also a great way to develop new technologies without spending money on interviewing and hiring several skilled employees to find the right person for the job. Contests can be release to residents of a city to design and build applications or branding material. The winner is compensated, and the city has quickly acquired the technology at minimal costs.

United States Government Challenges

The United States government has its own crowdsourcing program that works to solve ongoing problems from transportation technology and solar energy solutions, to face recognition software and pathogen detection. These crowdsourcing projects are run by the government and harness the general public to aid them in finding solutions without spending federal dollars. Participants can choose the challenge that interests them the most and work on something that they feel passionate about.

NASA Image Processing

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is asking members of the public to assist with their image processing of Jupiter. The scientists at NASA are unable to complete all of the work themselves so they are crowdsourcing the tasks to cut costs and save time.

Customer Service Forums

Online forums are an example of a company crowdsourcing its customer service department. Peer-to-peer support enables a company to provide instructional guidance to their consumers without the high overhead costs associated with full-time customer service teams. If a customer troubleshoots an issue on a company’s online forum, they may resolve the issue before an internal customer support employee needs to be involved. Similarly, these online forums allow a company to quickly find bugs and technical issues without having to hire a team to test their products in-house. If a customer has an issue, they reach out on the forum and highlight the issue. In the process of other customers solving the problem, they have not only reduced the need for further input but alerted the company of a potential glitch.


Online medical forums are used to crowdsource the advice and expertise of medical professionals and the experience of peers. Individuals with higher doctor-visit costs may avoid going to their medical provider for advice on something minor. From tips and advice for new mothers to preliminary diagnoses, these forums harness the crowd to answer questions for free. These forums are not always a reliable source of medical knowledge and should be used with caution.

Collaborative Projects

While crowdsourcing utilizes the crowd for projects and research, it is not always being used in collaboration with the other participants. Contests and task assignments use the crowd to single out a winning applicant, whereas some crowdsourcing techniques enlist a crowd to work together toward a single goal. Here are a few of the ways a crowd can collaborate.


  • Book publishing – Crowdsourcing writers, illustrators and editors that work on the publication of one book can cut costs and include a variety on opinions and professional input when there may have only been one.
  • Performance art – Creative content can be crowdsourced and used to put on shows that are created entirely by the public. For example, the Royal Opera House in London asked the general public to collaborate on a new opera. They submitted scripts and music to the project and the result was staged and performed in London.
  • Citizen science – This term is used to describe large portions of the general public collaborating on multiple scientific projects. There are several citizen science organizations across the world, using the knowledge and expertise of the crowd to solve issues ranging from wildlife conservation to fossil research. The United States government also has its own citizen science program dedicated to similar endeavors.
  • Crowd Currency – Crowd currency is the term originally used for online currencies, often called cryptocurrencies. The collaboration of multiple members of the public in mining these assets helps not only create the currency but ensures its circulation.
  • Crowdsourcing tests – Universities can turn to the crowd to test possibly exam questions and reduce their time spent on the research from a year to a weekend. Third party companies offer this service to schools and pay a small amount for each tested submission. This saves the university money and time, while also providing compensation to the public.

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