I've already written about what I learnt from Pipeline, but in short it demonstrated a strong desire from councils to collaborate, but a need for a service or community management role to facilitate collaboration.
So how could this role or service be funded? I'll explore some options below.
CouncilsUltimately this will benefit all councils, so why shouldn't they fund it? Perhaps eventually they could, but there isn't a proven business case and even if a handful of councils decided to go in together they're unlikely to reap the benefits unless they were all working on the same projects at the same time, which is fairly unlikely.
Asking a few councils to take a punt on something they won't reap the rewards until many more come on board isn't likely to succeed.
National OrganisationsYou'd think there might be some scope for a national organisation partnering with LocalGov Digital, however there seems to be little interest in this.
A consortium of six councils applied for funding for Pipeline from one national organisation which was turned down. Another national organisation has since launched a very similar platform in alpha. Others are producing their own studies and reports into cross sector collaboration rather than actually doing something.
It seems promoting ones organisation is of higher importance than collaboration between councils, so at this time, this isn't an option.
SponsorshipPrivate sector sponsorship could be a viable option in terms of getting the funding needed, but does the platform need to be impartial in terms of choices of solution?
For example, if a bunch of councils were looking for something that a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) might deliver, and a major CRM supplier sponsored Pipeline might there be pressure to steer councils towards their product.
So this is a possible option, but you'd have to ask, what's in it for the private sector?
CrowdfundingLocalGov Digital is essentially crowd funded, apart from LocalGovCamp which couldn't happen without generous partners and sponsors. I wrote about how LocalGov Digital is funded in January.
Crowdfunding would provide flexibility and impartiality, but perhaps not sustainability, however once a case has been proven other funding options might be more viable.
That was my pitch for 12th September, if you'd like to find out what happened afterwards, I've written a piece here.