New Developments in Crowd-sourced funding of Archaeology

Posted on March 1, 2012

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Update- a heritage only crowd-sourced funding website has just launched as well as this project.

DigVentures launched yesterday, “With the Flag Fen Lives project, DigVentures is launching Europe’s first-ever crowd-funded and crowd-sourced archaeological excavation.”

I have written about crowdsourced funding for archaeology projects in the past. These tended to be smaller projects and not on the same level of this-

“We’re running the project through a fantastic partner, Sponsume, who will help us manage the campaign. Our funding window will be open 29th February – April 2012, during which time we need to raise £25,000, to fund our excavation this summer. Back us now!”

I wish them the best of luck with their project.

My only concern is that this may not be innovative enough. Typically most crowd sourced raise money as a sort of phone drive. People call in donate money and if they donate a certain level they get some sort of “thank you gift” usually a mug. In the case of crowd-sourced funding this can get pretty creative. If someone is trying to publish a book for certain amounts you can get lunch with the author. Though some could be very plain for example a project for a band to make an album you get a CD of the album. Basically, you just bought a CD and it is more of commercial transaction then charity. For DigVentures here is the breakdown of donation to gift ratio.

Seed Venturer: for £10 or more Exclusive backstage access to daily content on our website in the ‘Site Hut’, a PDF of the final report, plus an invitation to our end of site party!

Start-up Venturer: for £25 or more Everything above, plus a fully illustrated, bound copy of our site report with your name acknowledged in the front. And did we mention the end of site party?

Gold Digger Venturer: for £40 or more Everything above, plus a special limited edition DigVentures gold shovel lapel pin. That’s going to turn some heads… at the end of site party!

Cool Beans Venturer: for £60 or more Everything above, plus a special limited edition DigVentures tee-shirt. Too cool for field school (bet we see you at the party!).

Dig for a day Venturer: This is where things get really interesting! For £125 or more it’s time to roll your sleeves up! On site Venturers receive everything already listed, plus the chance to dig alongside the experts – and don’t forget to stick around for our DVIP evening lectures.

Dig for a week Venturer: for £450 From this level and above, we’ll assess your field skills and make sure you walk away with the confidence to use them – wherever archaeology takes you.

Dig for two weeks Venturer: for £850 Camp with the team amidst the roundhouses in the heart of the Bronze Age site. Seasoned pros would trade their favourite trowel for this opportunity!

Field school Venturer: for £1300 or more – now we’re getting serious. With our DVIP master classes, evening lectures and training, this has to be one of the best field schools out there.

Ace Venturer: for £2,000 and above – Not just for pet detectives – if you or your company could support our project we can tailor you a perfect benefit package. Value in kind exchanges are also very welcome – we would love to hear from local businesses and anyone else who wants to be involved! Please contact

Some of these I think are pretty innovative gifts for cash. “Fully illustrated, bound copy of our site report with your name acknowledged in the front. ” This is new and different, I have never heard getting your name in a report for as little as £25. On the other hand £450 to dig for a week sounds just like any other fieldschool or archaeology project. They are basically paying for a week at a fieldschool. This sort of comes off as a rebranding of fieldschools but the content is pretty much the same. I am not sure if this is really crowd-sourcing something new or a slight twist on a fieldschool?

Now to be fair to them this is the first attempt at this project so I will cut them lots and lots of slack. I am sure there will be mistakes made and lots to learn from. They are pioneers so the next project will have lots to learn from them.

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