Can Crowd Funding work for Museum Projects?

What is Crowd Funding?

This is inspired by the launch of the UK side of Kickstarter. For those who don’t know, Kickstarter is basically a website which helps creative types generate money for a project. It provides a new means to source funding from, with the added bonus of knowing that the people who are willing to fund your project are actually interested in it. No one is dealing in shares or giving away huge chunks of their company or idea.

There is usually an added incentive to give money to a project, in the form of gifts depending on how much you donate. Kickstarter is not completely alone in the world of crowdfunding either. Sites such as Indiegogo also help people connect with audiences, although it appears to be very ‘cause’ based. A United Kingdom based site, Crowdfunder, also creates the same sort of opportunity for businesses; however they also provide opportunities for investment.

How are Museums in the United Kingdom using Crowd Funding?

I did a quick search on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo for museums. After sifting through the results, which were a little bit worrying (Apple can probably afford a museum if they want one; People are unlikely to want to fund your university course) I couldn’t find a single one from museums in the United Kingdom. There were some results for projects in America, which focused on producing exhibitions and one off events. One project I was particularly interested in was ‘Sharing Durham’s Stories’. They are trying to raise money to build a ‘story booth’, where people can come and have their oral histories recorded and conserved.

This sort of idea would work perfectly in parts of the United Kingdom. Yet, at a time when funding is becoming increasingly difficult to find, this is a great way to break down the costs of a small project and generate both revenue and interest for it. I am therefore very surprised that there hasn’t been more engagement with it from museums in the United Kingdom.

How can Museums use Crowd Funding?

As has already been seen above, museums in America are using crowd funding to create projects in their museums. I have seen a range of ways that this is being used, and admittedly some are better than others. It seems that exhibitions which have interesting content and stories behind them do well. Other projects which are on ask for money to carry out things like community stories projects, and other types of engagement in their immediate locality.

This is a great idea, as it allows people from the local community to fund, be involved in and help produce a finished product. It helps show the work museums are doing, and aids transparency in the heritage sector. More projects museum projects should try and engage the end user not only once the project is finished, but also whilst it is in progress. In that respect, crowd funding is a great opportunity to show to people the work that is done by heritage institutions. 

If you want to explore the world of Crowd Funding More, here are links to a few sites:

Kickstarter

Indigogo

Crowdfunder (UK based)

Crowdcube (More Business Oriented)