Collaborative consumption

New online communities are enabling collaborative consumption of goods and services through peer-to-peer sharing, trading, lending, leasing and swapping. Strangers can rent cars from each other, lease their bedrooms out to travellers, conduct chores for each other and even check in on other people’s hospitalised relatives. The peer-to-peer leasing market is expected to grow as consumers become part-time micro-entrepreneurs who lease out their seldom-used purchases (e.g. DIY tools such as drills).

Individuals can rate and recommend the people with whom they have done ‘business’ (see recommendation economy). This grassroots transparency builds trust which releases people to exercise goodwill and participate in these behaviours (see online trust and identity).

Concerns about climate change and global resource constraints prompt people to share products and buy fewer new products. The desire for community, local connections and conversation is also a driver. These websites are creating a new economy where the currency is goodwill and the theme is reciprocity.

What are the implications?

  • Increase in the use of reciprocity to incentivise volunteering, for example the increase in ‘time-banking’ schemes (see trends in volunteering).
  • Opportunities for organisations to facilitate peer-to-peer leasing of products and resources between their beneficiaries.
  • Ability to generate revenue through facilitating opportunities for peer-to-peer leasing of products and resources.
  • Increase in collaborative funding of new projects (see online collaboration).
  • Ability for individuals to save money through sharing products and services, potentially addressing poverty and inequality
  • Opportunities to address climate change and global resource constraints by slowing the depletion of natural resources and reducing carbon emissions.
  • Changing attitudes towards ethical living and consumerism as collaborative consumption potentially enhances or displaces other ethical behaviours.

Moving forward

With a growing emphasis on time as a currency for which people will expect to be remunerated with favours and benefits, voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) will need to think about volunteer retention and recruitment in a new light.

  • How can you reward and recognise volunteering?
  • Can your organisation plug into existing time banking schemes?

Beneficiaries of charitable services can share, trade, lend, lease and swap with each other.

  • How can your organisation empower current and former beneficiaries to share and exchange resources with each other?
  • Do you have former beneficiaries who have equipment, materials or resources which would be useful to current beneficiaries?

Collaborative consumption can generate online revenue for VCOs. Websites such as and that enable sharing, trading and other collaborative consumption behaviours can be highly profitable. Given the relative newness of collaborative consumption and its growth potential, there is scope for VCOs to promote these behaviours to their supporters.

  • Does your organisation have experience in offering non-traditional fundraising products to your supporters?
  • Does your organisation have a supporter base which could be further monetised?

Want to know more?

Collaborative Consumption

Published by: Oxygen Consulting

Date: 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? Article by Ray Algar on consumers’ growing awareness of their collaborative power and the impact this will have on product pricing.

How useful is this? The article is a thought-starter for fundraising managers considering new ideas.

Sharing Is Contagious

Published by: GOOD Design

Date: 2010

Format: Web

What is it? A chart showing how people are increasingly growing up sharing files, photos, knowledge, and daily thoughts—and how these collaborative behaviours are moving into other areas of our lives.

How useful is this? This is an excellent overview of how collaborative consumption activities have grown and changed over the past 50 years.

The Everyday Entrepreneur

Published by: The RSA

Date: 2010

Format: PDF

What is it? Article by Rachel Bosman, author of Collaborative Consumption, on the growth of collaborative consumption.

How useful is this? The article gives a good overview of the tenets of collaborative consumption, including crowd-funding, redistribution and time-sharing.

Last updated at 16:42 Thu 24/Mar/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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