Learning patterns/Failing at a crowdfunding campaign and what we can learn from it
What problem does this solve?
At the programming contest Coding da Vinci (CdV), GLAM institutions as well as hackers/ software developers show the exciting and innovative potential of digital cultural heritage. The CdV partners conceptualized a crowdfunding campaign using the platform Startnext in order to finance an additional measure supporting the main project agenda. For many Wikimedia Chapters and User Groups, crowdfunding can be an easy way to gather financial support for their projects (see Learning Pattern WikiCheese).
The CdV crowdfunding project was supposed to generate financial support on Startnext and expand the existing budget. These resources could have financed additional technical support for hackers and GLAMs, so that sets of data would have been already prepared for extended use by additional partners and platforms after the end of the project. Such support would have only been possible in the time given by employing additional “datawranglers”. Overall, therefore, this Learning Pattern describes a crowdfunding campaign that tried to finance part of, but not its entire budget through the campaign.
The minimum goal of the crowdfunding campaign was set at 10,000 EUR. For funders, immaterial rewards were chosen that would not impact on our budget much such as, for example, an invitation to the final award ceremony. Overall, however, only 2,696 EUR could be generated through the campaign which differed substantially from our initial goal.
What is the solution?
Despite our campaign failing to reach its fundraising goal, other Wikimedia chapters and organisations can certainly learn important lessons from it for conducting their own crowdfunding campaign in the future. It’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
Is my campaign goal clear and relevant enough?
For potential funders, the CdV campaign did not express a compelling need for funding. It was already clear that the CdV hackathon was fully funded and would take place regardless of the campaign. The campaign was about seeking additional finances to enable better support for the participants. This was an extremely complex and abstract topic which did not really arouse much emotion. Such feedback was also articulated by the Startnext support team. In contrast to other crowdfunding campaigns, our campaign was part of another, larger project which was already set to take place.
Are my rewards interesting for my target audience?
Our rewards were exclusively of immaterial nature in contrast to the other, largely product-oriented rewards on Startnext. For this, it is important to also consider material rewards that could be of interest to potential funders.
Did I use all available communication channels in order to reach my relevant target audiences?
For the CdV crowdfunding campaign, the cross section of potential funders interested in digital projects and those interested in cultural heritage was too small and did not generate a large enough supporter base. For our communication strategy, we exclusively focused on our social media channels and the landing page of wikipedia.de. Even though the campaign video was well received and the campaign had a large number of fans (210) on Startnext itself, not enough supporters were mobilized. Conventional press and media work was consciously avoided during this campaign, since we believed that our target audience was located elsewhere. Through this focus, we missed potential funders who are interested in culture, but do not spend much time online. For other campaigns, this could certainly be an additional strategy to generate more publicity for the campaign.
When to use
For many Wikimedia Chapters and User Groups, crowdfunding can be an easy way to gather financial support for their projects. When organizing such a campaign, the issues listed above can be essential.
For additional questions please feel free to contact Barbara Fischer, WMDE Curator for GLAM Partnerships.