The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta have launched the findings of a pilot programme, in a report titled Matching the Crowd – combining crowdfunding and institutional funding to get great ideas off the ground.

It reveals the potential of matched crowdfunding(1), to generate income and a new network of supporters for UK arts and heritage sectors.

Matched crowdfunding combines public, institutional or corporate funding with smaller donations from the public on online crowdfunding platforms. Launching in August 2016, the nine month pilot programme matched public funding with individual donations from the public to fund a total of 59 arts and heritage projects, through crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder. Popular projects ranged from immersive opera in South London, to the restoration of one of Britain’s most important historic ships, the Royal Research Ship Discovery, in Dundee.

The programme proved the ability of matched crowdfunding to encourage additional money into the arts and heritage sectors, as the £251,500 provided by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund helped leverage £405,941 from a crowd of 4,970 backers. The offer of a match boosted the average size of contributions by 17 per cent (from £63 to £74), allowing projects to become more likely to reach their funding target.

Also among the most significant findings was the ability to help arts and heritage organisations reach new supporters, rather than drawing on their existing networks. As many as 86 per cent of backers had not previously supported those organisations financially, and 20 per cent had never backed a project in the arts and heritage sector.

For 78% of the crowd, the money they gave to the projects was in addition to what they would usually donate to charitable or philanthropic causes, which highlights the opportunity to leverage more money for good causes through crowdfunding.

Beyond raising money, 85% of organisations running crowdfunding campaigns inspired the crowd to offer non-financial help. Backers provided feedback/advice to 38% of projects, indicating the role of the crowd extending beyond funding towards shaping the campaign as it progresses towards its funding target.

For example, an arts project supporter recommended an artist to local festival promoters, left positive comments on the artist’s profile, and also shared the campaign online. A heritage project supporter also offered to run community workshops for a project for free.

The connections that organisations formed during the programme have led to ongoing support beyond the money raised. For instance, 45% of projects discovered new partners or collaborators, 42% received offers of volunteering support, and 64% gained further supporters for their project after crowdfunding.

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, said: “Nesta has been tracking the crowdfunding sector since 2010, including the growing involvement of institutional funders. This pilot programme has given us unique quantitative evidence that arts and heritage funders can make public money work harder by matched funding.”

Source: Charity Digital News