Scaling Civic Tech: Paths to a Sustainable Future

Scaling Civic Tech: Paths to a Sustainable Future

Startups have struggled to develop meaningfully scaled and sustainable business models for civic tech — technology used to inform, engage, and connect residents with government and one another and advance civic outcomes, a report commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Rita Allen Foundation finds. Based on a landscape analysis and interviews with stakeholders, the report, Scaling Civic Tech: Paths to a Sustainable Future, found that most fast-growing organizations in the space are for-profit software companies that sell to government and enterprise clients, and that very few organizations have developed repeatable, reliable sources of revenue. Contributing factors include a shortage of capital and funders in the field; a lack of business planning, sales, fundraising, impact measurement, and communications capacity; and the difficulty of government accountability watchdog groups to obtain government funding. The report’s recommendations for funders include investing in core capacities and providing specific mission-aligned support in issue areas such as economic development, health, and education.