You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger! The Money of Crowdfunding Archaeology and Heritage

Posted on October 2, 2014

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Using the list that Thomas gathered together of crowdfunded Archaeology projects I conducted some research about crowdfunding in Archaeology*. First up, the distribution of money given by individuals to Archaeology crowdfunded projects. The results are absolutely fascinating. First, take a look at the People Not Stones project:

Levels Number Giving Total Amount
 $               1 1  $           1
 $               5 4  $         20
 $             10 9  $         90
 $             20 2  $         40
 $             25 12  $       300
 $             30 1  $         30
 $             50 14  $       700
 $             60 1  $         60
 $           100 10  $    1,000
 $           125 2  $       250
 $           150 2  $       300
 $           200 3  $       600
 $           250 11  $    2,750
 $           265 1  $       265
 $           350 1  $       350
 $           368 1  $       368
 $           400 1  $       400
 $           500 15  $    7,500
 $           600 1  $       600
 $       1,000 7  $    7,000
 $       2,000 1  $    2,000
 $       2,500 1  $    2,500
 $       3,000 2  $    6,000
Private 44  $ 16,079

That crowdfunding project was on Indiegogo which allows you to see the exact amounts given, unlike other platforms where you can see bands of giving i.e. $10 or more, $20 or more. They also allow the amount to be kept private which 44 people did in this case. Still those private donations average out to $365 each. Look at the distribution of giving. The highest number of donations are at $50, $100, $250 and $500. This is not people giving little amounts, the odd fiver, but large donations.

Bigger, Better?

In fact, when looking at the projects (out of 31 I could get the numbers for, data below) the lowest level of giving, a fiver or $10 donation, was not popular with donors.  Many of the projects had their donations cluster higher around the $20, $50 or $100 mark. In some cases no one chose the lowest donation level. When creating a crowdfunded project many people put in a low ‘coffee cup’ level of donating (i.e. about the costs of a Starbucks coffee) hoping to catch more people but that does not seem to be happening. It is hard to draw any sort of conclusion for this because we don’t know people’s motivations for donating. Some of these crowdfunding project are basically a pre-ordering project. That is when they have a book or a dig and you are paying to get that product. The cup of coffee level usually does not provide that product. On the other hand the People Not Stones project had a $1000 as their top level and at least 4 people, maybe more, gave over that which would indicate that the gift has nothing to do with donation levels for some.

The Exception

There were two exceptions where the lowest level of giving garnered the highest number of gifts, one was the Dover Boat project. Here is that distribution:

Levels Number Giving Total Amount
 £           5 33  £           165
 £         20 30  £           600
 £         50 8  £           400
 £       100 9  £           900
 £       200 1  £           200
 £       300 7  £       2,100

Lots of people gave a fiver, well between a fiver and £20- the platforms does not give exact amounts. The reward for that was a “I helped Float the Boat!” badge. At least for a few projects the majority of people will give very small amounts.

Exceptions to Exceptions- that aren’t really Exceptions

However, look at the totals from the boat project. Most of the money was made through a few large donations. That is the trend we see across all the projects– most of the money is raised from fewer larger donations. The vast majority of the money raised for the People Not Stones were donations over $100. If you are going to do crowdfunding you should expect to make your money from larger donations.

Set the Goal Posts

One trend that I found very interesting is that on the platform ‘Go Fund Me’ there are no levels of suggestion donations. You don’t receive anything for the different amounts you donate. With those projects- three research projects and funding a PhD- the bar was set pretty low in terms of giving, well actually there was no bar. When people are not given any guidance on what to give they tend to give smaller amounts. Some of this may have to do with the types of projects and low sample size. It is surely not for a lack of publicity as Mr. Smith has pushed out information and calls for donations to his project (PhD Landscapes) everywhere, and still does.

My Medieval Landscapes PhD
http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks
Levels Number Giving Total Amount
 $           5 8  $         40
 $         10 10  $       100
 $         15 6  $         90
 $         20 17  $       340
 $         25 3  $         75
 $         55 1  $         55
 $       100 3  $       300
2011 Hippos Excavation
http://www.gofundme.com/NIPatHippos
 $         20 2  $         40
 $       100 3  $       300
 $       210 1  $       210
 $       300 1  $       300
New Discoveries at Woodrow Ruin
http://www.gofundme.com/2s9fm8
 $   20.00 2        40.00
 $   25.00 9     225.00
 $   50.00 4     200.00
 $ 100.00 6     600.00

There is also this project that is the other one with the largest number of people giving the lowest amount.

Support my research on Ibadi architectur…
http://www.gofundme.com/cdeoo
 $           5 8  $         40
 $           8 1  $           8
 $         10 3  $         30
 $         15 1  $         15
 $         30 1  $         30
 $         50 1  $         50

‘You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling’- Inception

Each project is different but when looking at the money distribution there are some clear trends. If you are going to be crowdfunding:

  • Set levels of donations- leaving people to choose their own does not appear to work well- none of the Go Fund Me projects reach their goals – yet.
  • Don’t bother with $1, $2, or even $5 donations. Most of the time you won’t get anyone to donate that amount.
  • Expect to make most of your money from donations over $20- think about the “rewards” carefully for those levels.

Basically, don’t be afraid to ask people for more than a cup of coffee. Which, to me seems counter-intuitive, I would think less money spread over more people would work better on the internet, but not the case in crowdfunding. That being said, I don’t want to give the impression that you should not engage with people who only donate a fiver. Engagement is important especially if you will be running multiple projects; this years fiver might be next years $500. Moreover, some of these projects just barely make their goals so every bit counts- that $10 can help a project over the threshold. Though I will talk more about audiences and who gives in the next post. Overall, I did not expect these results.

*there is a fussy line between what is Archaeology and what is something else

Open Data

As per my usual ethics, here is the data I gathered- releasing all rights to use it beyond the CC-BY license I use for this blog i.e. CC-0. Mainly only applies to the EU with their stupid (no, not a judgment, fact) IP laws putting some sorts of data under copyright. The rest of the world does not allow for the copyrighting of data, thank God. I do ask- not require- you let me know if you use the data. This is because I am curious to see what others do with it.

Info- data was gathered from the websites, sometimes by hand. Indiegogo gives exact amounts donated but all the rest give ranges e.g. more than $5 but less than the next level. So data is not exact for every project.

People Not Stones
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-archeological-sites-empower-entrepreneurs-create-jobs-people-not-stones
Levels Number Giving Total Amount
 $               1 1  $           1
 $               5 4  $         20
 $             10 9  $         90
 $             20 2  $         40
 $             25 12  $       300
 $             30 1  $         30
 $             50 14  $       700
 $             60 1  $         60
 $           100 10  $    1,000
 $           125 2  $       250
 $           150 2  $       300
 $           200 3  $       600
 $           250 11  $    2,750
 $           265 1  $       265
 $           350 1  $       350
 $           368 1  $       368
 $           400 1  $       400
 $           500 15  $    7,500
 $           600 1  $       600
 $       1,000 7  $    7,000
 $       2,000 1  $    2,000
 $       2,500 1  $    2,500
 $       3,000 2  $    6,000
Private 44  $ 16,079
DigVentures: Flag Fen Lives!
http://www.sponsume.com/project/digventures-flag-fen-lives-1
No Data
Saints & Secrets: the Lost
History of Leiston Abbey
http://digventures.com/projects/saints-secrets-leiston-abbey/
No Data
My Medieval
Landscapes PhD
http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks
 $               5 8  $         40
 $             10 10  $       100
 $             15 6  $         90
 $             20 17  $       340
 $             25 3  $         75
 $             55 1  $         55
 $           100 3  $       300
2011 Hippos Excavation
http://www.gofundme.com/NIPatHippos
 $             20 2  $         40
 $           100 3  $       300
 $           210 1  $       210
 $           300 1  $       300
New Discoveries at
Woodrow Ruin
http://www.gofundme.com/2s9fm8
 $       20.00 2  $   40.00
 $       25.00 9  $ 225.00
 $       50.00 4  $ 200.00
 $     100.00 6  $ 600.00
Archaeology for Everyone
(with the Bamburgh
Research Project)
http://www.sponsume.com/project/archaeology-everyone-bamburgh-research-project
Not Data
Roman Quest
Community Dig
http://www.sponsume.com/project/roman-quest-community-dig
No data
Float the Dover
Bronze Age Boat!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1989781916/float-the-dover-bronze-age-boat
 £               5 33  £       165
 £             20 30  £       600
 £             50 8  £       400
 £           100 9  £       900
 £           200 1  £       200
 £           300 7  £    2,100
Ancient Roman
DNA Project
http://www.rockethub.com/projects/3709-ancient-roman-dnaproject
 $               5 4  $         20
 $             10 16  $       160
 $             20 78  $    1,560
 $             30 16  $       480
 $             50 23  $    1,150
 $           100 16  $    1,600
 $           250 4  $    1,000
 $           500  $          –
 $       1,000 3  $    3,000
Ancient Australia Unearthed ( in aussie dollars)
http://www.pozible.com/project/34565
 $               2 0  $          –
 $               5 1  $           5
 $             15 1  $         15
 $             25 2  $         50
 $             30 4  $       120
 $             50 17  $       850
 $           100 35  $    3,500
 $           250 8  $    2,000
 $           500  $          –
 $       2,000 1  $    2,000
Unraveling the
Eleusinian Mysteries
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/archaeolink/unravelling-the-eleusinian-mysteries
 £               5 2  $         10
 £             10 1  $         10
 £             20  $          –
 £             30 2  $         60
 £             50 3  $       150
 £           100 4  $       400
 £           150  $          –
 £           500 5  $    2,500
 £           700  $          –
 £       1,000  $          –
 £       1,500 1  $    1,500
 £       5,000  $          –
DIG IT! Archaeology
of Nicaragua
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1488186277/dig-it-archaelology-of-nicaragua
 $             10 9  $         90
 $             25 19  $       475
 $             55 14  $       770
 $           100 15  $    1,500
 $           250 2  $       500
 $           500 1  $       500
 $       2,000  $          –
 $       5,000  $          –
The Maeander Project –
A digital, archaeological
landscape
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/colleenmorgan/the-maeander-project-a-digital-archaeological-land?ref=kickspy
 $               5 11  $         55
 $             15 6  $         90
 $             25 11  $       275
 $             50 12  $       600
 $           100 1  $       100
 $           150 1  $       150
 $           250 3  $       750
 $           300  $          –
 $           500 1  $       500
From the ground up:
A publication on
Macedonian Archaeology
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/macedonia/from-the-ground-up-a-publication-on-macedonian-arc/posts
 $             25 12  $       300
 $             50 5  $       250
 $           100 15  $    1,500
Apotropaios – The
Archaeology of Averting
Evil in the Home
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1882577321/apotropaios-the-archaeology-of-averting-evil-in-th
 £               1 1  $           1
 £               5 3  $         15
 £             10 3  $         30
 £             15  $          –
 £             20 2  $         40
 £             25 11  $       275
 £             30 2  $         60
 £             40 1  $         40
 £             50 7  $       350
 £             65 3  $       195
 £           250 1  $       250
 £           500  $          –
 £       2,000  $          –
 £       5,000  $          –
Long-Lost Egyptian
Pyramids Found?
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/249744306/long-lost-pyramids-found?ref=city
 $             15 2  $         30
 $             25 3  $         75
 $             50 2  $       100
 $             75  $          –
 $             99 2  $       198
 $           200  $          –
 $           500 1  $       500
 $       1,000  $          –
 $       5,000  $          –
 $     10,000  $          –
IRAQI KURDISTAN:
An Atlas
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/608206435/an-archaeological-atlas-of-iraqi-kurdistan
 $               1  $          –
 $             10  $          –
 $             25  $          –
 $             70  $          –
 $           200  $          –
 $           500  $          –
 $       1,000  $          –
Shipwreck Andy Gibson
Underwater Archaeology
Documentation
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1024224570/sternwheeler-andy-gibson-underwater-documentation
 $               1  $          –
 $             20 2  $         40
 $             51  $          –
 $           251  $          –
Rescue Archaeology in
Kawit Medellin, Cebu
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rescue-archaeology-in-kawit-medellin-cebu
 $           100  $          –
 $           250  $          –
 $       1,000  $          –
The Pirro Nord
r-evolution: fundraising
for the new excavation
season
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-pirro-nord-r-evolution-fundraising-for-the-new-excavation-season
 $               5 2  $         10
 $             10 1  $         10
 $             15 4  $         60
 $             20 3  $         60
 $             35 3  $       105
 $             40 1  $         40
 $             50 1  $         50
 $             65 1  $         65
 $           100 1  $       100
Private 1
Finding Karakhamun-
The Excavation
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/finding-karakhamun-the-excavation
Private 3
 $             50 1  $         50
 $             70 1  $         70
 $           100 3  $       300
 $           300 1  $       300
 $           500 1  $       500
 $           700 1  $       700
Support my research on
Ibadi architectur…
http://www.gofundme.com/cdeoo
 $               5 8  $         40
 $               8 1  $           8
 $             10 3  $         30
 $             15 1  $         15
 $             30 1  $         30
 $             50 1  $         50
Hull House Archaeology
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hull-house-archaeology
 $       50.00 1  $         50
The lost city of Paititi: The
2013 Inkari Expedition
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bduverneuil/the-lost-city-of-paititi-the-2013-inkari-expeditio
 $         5.00 3  $         15
 $       10.00 5  $         50
 $       30.00 3  $         90
 $       35.00 5  $       175
 $       40.00 2  $         80
 $       50.00 10  $       500
 $       80.00 15  $    1,200
 $     125.00 3  $       375
 $     150.00  $          –
 $     200.00 4  $       800
 $     500.00 1  $       500
 $     700.00  $          –
 $  1,100.00  $          –
 $  1,500.00  $          –
 $  2,000.00  $          –
 $  3,000.00  $          –
 $  4,000.00  $          –
 $  8,000.00 1  $    8,000
Finding Common Ground
in Israel and Palestine
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/finding-common-ground-in-israel-and-palestine
 $             15 4  $         60
 $             25 1  $         25
 $             50 1  $         50
 $             55 2  $       110
 $           100 1  $       100
 $           500 1  $       500
Prehistoric Kalahari
Desert Settlements
http://www.petridish.org/projects/prehistoric-kalahari-desert-settlements
 $               1  $          –
 $               2  $          –
 $             10 6  $         60
 $             25 5  $       125
 $             50 6  $       300
 $           250 1  $       250
 $       1,000  $          –
 $       3,500  $          –
Profiling the dead:
learning from mass
fatality events
http://www.petridish.org/projects/profiling-the-dead-learning-from-mass-fatality-events
 $               1  $          –
 $               5  $          –
 $             10 4  $         40
 $             25 1  $         25
 $             50 1  $         50
 $           100 1  $       100
 $           250  $          –
 $           500 1  $       500
 $       1,000  $          –
 $       2,500  $          –
Maya Archaeology
in 2012
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/maya-archaeology-in-2012
 $             25 2  $         50
 $             50 1  $         50
 $           100 1  $       100
 $           200 2  $       400
The SVG Public
Archaeology Program
http://www.rockethub.com/projects/3949-the-svg-publicarchaeology-
program
 $               5 1  $           5
 $             10 1  $         10
 $             20 1  $         20
 $             50 10  $       500
 $           100 5  $       500
 $           250 3  $       750
 $           500 1  $       500
 $       1,000 1  $    1,000
Al Baleed – Let’s save the
Land of Frankincense
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/al-baleed-let-s-save-the-land-of-frankincense
 $               1  $          –
 $               5 3  $         15
 $             10 5  $         50
 $             20 3  $         60
 $             25 2  $         50
 $             30 11  $       330
 $             40 8  $       320
 $             50 2  $       100
 $             60 1  $         60
 $             80 1  $         80
 $           100 2  $       200
 $           250  $          –
 $       1,000  $          –
Private 1
Sualti Kultur Mirasi 2013
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sualti-kultur-mirasi-2013
 $               1 1  $           1
 $             10 1  $         10
 $             25 3  $         75
 $             49 1  $         49
 $             50 3  $       150
 $           100 6  $       600
 $           250 3  $       750
 $           300 1  $       300
 $           500 1  $       500
 private 4
Virtual Prehistoric Worlds
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1616707907/virtual-prehistoric-worlds
 £         1.00 19  $         19
 £       10.00 21  $       210
 £       25.00 12  $       300
 £       50.00 11  $       550
Brownsville
Archaeology Festival
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/casearchaeology/brownsville-archaeology-festival
 $             10 7  $         70
 $             25 14  $       350
 $           100 6  $       600
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