Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing: How the public can help museum projects!

With heritage institutions globally facing financial challenges and lack of resources, museums big and small are using crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing as an innovative way to get projects off the ground.

So what are the benefits, and what is the “crowd”?

Crowdfunding websites such as https://www.kickstarter.com/ and http://www.gofundme.com/ are ways for people and companies to raise money through the general public (the crowd) for important projects.

By posting online – about exhibitions, outreach programmes or events, for example, you can advertise your work and passions to a wider audience. If they are excited about your ideas, web users can then donate sums of money, as little or as much as they like, to help you get going!

Usually supporters who give more money get small rewards in return – such as free tickets, a souvenir, or a personal thank you email.

While crowdfunding is a great way for smaller institutions and individuals to raise money, having a focused, achievable plan and meeting expectations is extremely important!

Crowdsourcing is a way to obtain data, ideas, or content from a large group of people, usually online. Rather than money, web users can help by contributing their research, sharing their suggestions and thoughts, posting about their archaeological finds, or entering data.

One project which combines both crowdfunding and crowdsourcing is the British Museum’s Micro Pasts project: http://micropasts.org/

Here people from around the world (although mostly the UK) can choose projects they want to assist, or which research projects they want to fund. You could choose anything from digitising some archival records of the Bronze Age to funding research about the River Thames!

Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing is a great way for the public to feel a sense of ownership over their culture – by donating either a small amount of money or a good deal of time, our audiences can be a part of cultural heritage preservation too.

Have you ever considered crowdfunding or crowdsourcing? Let us know in the comments below!

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