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You get what you give

Post Date

16 September 2014

Our Development Co-ordinator Soraia (pictured) recently completed her MA in Culture Policy and Management with a particular focus on crowdfunding.  Ahead of Artichoke launching their own Kickstarter campaign, here's what she learnt...

Digital technologies have radically changed the way we produce, consume and fund art.

I’ve spent the last year thinking about this subject when researching and writing my dissertation to complete a Masters in Culture Policy & Management. Working in Fundraising, I decided to investigate one of the latest trends in financing models for cultural projects: crowdfunding.

Although there are several crowdfunding platforms available to finance creative projects, cultural institutions in the UK are still taking their first steps in using this tool. Because it is still relatively new, the majority of articles related to crowdfunding try to explore what the triggers of successful campaigns are: is it the rewards?  The strong presence on social media? The popularity of the organisation?

As interesting as these questions may be, I decided to focus my research on what I believe matters the most in crowdfunding: the people.

Crowdfunding is not all about the money. It’s about the people that converge around an idea, a product, and a project. It’s about the connections that are established between investors and the organisation that creates the project. It’s about inspiring people in taking part in an idea bigger than themselves. 

With this in mind, I decided to investigate the connections that take place between arts organisations that engage in Kickstarter campaigns and their donors. I wanted to know their follow-up conversations, if organisations embrace these new donors on their future journey.

The results of my research were quite diverse, but one thing became clear: in a crowdfunding campaign, like in life in general, you get what you give. If you ask only for financial donations, that is what people will think is their deepest level of involvement. But if you ask for more – sharing the campaign on social media, advocating for the cause, volunteering – the person’s sense of impact will grow exponentially. And, by placing people as the core asset of crowdfunding, you may actually increase your chances of obtaining further gifts in the future.

I’d like to end this post with a quote that inspired me when I was exploring this topic:

‘I wonder whether at times we’re in danger of trying to make giving so easy that we get a gift but not a relationship. How many people made a text donation just because it was the easiest way to end the conversation? Would they, like me, end up feeling slightly resentful of being treated like a cash machine and never engaged any further with the charity?  Rather than talking about technology and giving, perhaps we should instead be asking how we can use technology for relationship building that leads people to become donors? What if instead of street fundraisers we had street relationship makers? Technology can certainly make things simple. But perhaps being too simple isn’t always a good thing.’

Report: More than shaking an online tin, Spring Giving, London