A Taxonomy of UK Crowdfunding and Examination of the Potential of Trust and Empathy in Project Success

Timeframe: 2014-2015
Funder: ESRC

This was the first RCUK award on online crowdfunding, which concerns amassing multiple often small financial pledges through the internet to resource a proposed product or event, or to support a chosen cause. Initial (desk-based) research revealed a lack of relevant literature with existing work focused on single economic measures of ‘success’ or ‘failure’. This paucity led the Northumbria team to look directly at recent and live crowdfunding campaigns, conduct interviews with UK campaign funders, fundraisers and crowdfunding experts, and organise a programme of engagement work. As their collective knowledge developed they fed insights back to organisations in the North East via ‘how to’ workshops, organised a roundtable ‘policy’ event bringing in additional expertise, and conducted in-depth evaluations with and for local arts and creative industries organisations. This aligned programme of awareness raising, experience sharing and evaluation aimed to generate regionally and culturally contextually relevant understandings around crowdfunding’s ‘more than money’ potential. Recent work proposes that rather than ‘crowd’, a paying public develops through demonstrating collective interest in funding a chosen outcome.