Crowdsourcing is essentially open idea solicitation from customers where an institution can encourage their audience to share ideas for innovation or improvements for existing products. It is an effective source of new product ideas where customers are associated with significant current trends and have an understanding of problems being faced. Apple used crowdsourcing in generating ideas for the iPad by monitoring reviews and blogs as well as gathering customer opinion data to comprehend customer needs. Nonprofits should recognize the potential of crowdsourcing, too.
Today, the role of the Museum, as other for-profit businesses, is evolving. The idea of the traditional special exhibition, a show created by the curators telling the viewers how to interact and what to think, is dying. There is an increase in audience participation for permanent collections and for crowdsourced exhibits. The first crowd-curated exhibition was called Click! done in 2008 by the Brooklyn Museum. With this show, Brooklyn residents were asked to share pictures they had taken of the city on their website where other viewers would vote on their favorites. Although this exhibition was met by the tensions of “What is/isn’t art?” and “Who are the true art experts?” – it was a foot in the door for something new and many other Museums in the United States have followed suit since. Just this past summer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art had a similar experiment. As part of the exhibition, First Look: Collecting for Philadelphia, the Museum displayed two photographs done by an artist known as Weegee. Throughout the exhibition, the Museum solicited feedback from visitors by asking them to choose between one of two images that they would like the Museum to add to its permanent collection. Over the three month exhibition period, the project generated feedback from hundreds of visitiors. The Museum then posted the feedback and winning photograph on its website to spread awareness of the project. If they wanted to take the project a step forward, they could have incorporated it on their website from the beginning, not only showing the end results. Then sharing this on their social media could have created a type of open innovative web forum that might have generated feedback from thousands of participants rather than hundreds. Of course we have to keep in mind the price of photography rights and posting the images on their website, which is part of the financial barrier dealt with by most nonprofits and maybe the reason why only the winning image was posted at the end of the project. Read the viewers comments here.