The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has launched an interesting variation on the dividend-paying social wealth fund idea, which they are calling My Community Dividend (MCD). Under the program, half of the investment return from the NSW Generations Fund will be set aside for community projects that residents can propose and then vote for online.
The NSW Generations Fund is a new social wealth fund that has been seeded with A$3 billion from the NSW government. For 2018-2019, the total amount of money available for the MCD program will be A$27.5 million.
Below is a video that the NSW government released with the launch of the program, which appears to contain aspirational projects that the MCD could fund, along with a description of the NSW Generations Fund. The projects include hiring music teachers to create a children’s orchestra and providing funding for an organization that facilitates horse-riding for people with disabilities.
So, in essence, the program combines the idea of a dividend-paying social wealth fund with the idea of participatory budgeting. For small social wealth funds that are not likely to generate substantial per-capita dividends, this makes sense as a way of making people feel like they are getting something substantial from the fund.
Since the program has just launched, it is impossible to say yet what MCD will be like in practice, but it is nonetheless an interesting policy innovation to watch going forward.