Matched crowdfunding could be boon to arts

Results of a pilot program in the United Kingdom suggest matched crowdfunding’s potential to be a significant funding source for arts groups.

Matching the Crowd is a report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. It summarizes a nine-month program which saw 59 arts and heritage projects receive public funding matched with public donations. Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund provided £251,500 which leveraged £405,941 from 4,970 people.

The findings included:

  • The presence of a match boosted individual contributions by 17 per cent
  • As many as 86 per cent of backers had never previously supported the organizations they backed
  • 20 per cent had never backed an arts or heritage project
  • The money 78 per cent gave was on top what they usually give to all charitable causes
  • 85 per cent of crowdfunding organizations inspired people to offer non-financial help
  • Backers provided advice to 38 per cent of projects
  • 45 per cent of projects found new partners or collaborators
  • 42 per cent received offers to volunteer
  • 64 per cent gained further supporters after crowdfunding

Hasan Bakhshi

“Nesta has been tracking the crowdfunding sector since 2010, including the growing involvement of institutional funders,” Nesta executive director, creative economy and data analytics Hasan Bakhshi said. “This pilot programme has given us unique quantitative evidence that arts and heritage funders can make public money work harder by matched funding.”

“The UK grant market is worth £5.6 billion and this report suggests that if this money was distributed via crowdfunding, the impact could be significantly amplified, both in terms of unlocking additional funds and building skills and non-financial support from the community,” Crowdfunder CEO Phil Geraghty said.

“This matched crowdfunding programme has proved to be an effective way of increasing public support for heritage,” the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Anne Young said.

“It has been particularly interesting to see how match funding from National Lottery players has helped to boost the size of crowd-funded donations and help the organisations involved extend their range of supporters and volunteers. Funding can be very competitive to secure and we encourage others to consider new ways such as crowdfunding to source support and local buy-in for their work.”

“By using crowdfunding platforms, groups can also access a range of additional benefits, including stronger partnerships, increased volunteering and public feedback on their campaigns,” Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism John Glen said.

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