Fairy Godmothers Do Exist- Crowdfunding Archaeology

Posted on October 3, 2014


Crowdfunding websites have sold themselves as places where projects can get exposure and more donations than if people did the work on their own.  I have been skeptical of this narrative. I have just had a hard time believing there would be a large number of strangers surfing crowdfunding websites looking to give money and willing to give that money to archaeology projects, actually any. Humble pie while tangy is not too bad.

This is the forth post on my series on crowdfunding archaeology (Post 1- Thomas’ numbers, Post 2- presentations from DigVentures, Post 3- the money of crowdfunding)

Fairy Godmothers Do Exist

Using Thomas’ list of projects I looked at who gave money to the different projects and how many other projects they gave to. The different platforms cause some problems i.e. Go Fund Me does not share the number of projects people give to, but for most of them I was able to gather this information. There are people who give to hundreds of projects, including Archaeology/Archaeology-related projects:

Number of Projects Given To %
Total 1391
Unknown 188 14%
1 814 59%
2 to 10 268 19%
>10 121 9%
>100 26 1%

While a minority, about 10% of givers have given to 10 or more different projects. One, person has given to at least 1962 projects,(as of October 1st) with many others in the hundreds e.g. 848, 733, 306, etc.

But do they give a lot?

The quirks of the different platforms means that it is hard to tell who gave what amounts and the number of projects they gave to. Kickstarter gives you numbers but not amounts. Indiegogo only gives numbers for a few people but do give amounts. One person who donated to 31 projects gave $100 to an archaeology one. The other top ones were:

23 projects- $250

13 projects- $30

13 projects- $25

The data is too fragmented to make any sort of statement but some of these people are donating to lots of projects – almost all of the other ones they donated to were not archaeology related – and are giving pretty significant amounts. I consider giving $250 to an archaeology project, when they are not an archaeologist, a significant amount.

There are people surfing crowdfunding websites giving money to archaeology projects.

Which Platforms?

Not all platforms are the same. Kickstarter beats out all other platforms in terms of random giving, hands down. The top 50 givers, in terms of number of projects they give to, did so on Kickstarter. Number 51 on the list was on the PetriDish platform. 62 was Pozible and 63 was Indiegogo, but still the top hundred givers is dominated by Kickstarter. This may have to do with the fact that Indiegogo only gives info for a few of their donors. A really poor performer was Sponsume with most multiple donors giving only to archaeology projects – archaeologists giving to only archaeology projects. I know they are archaeologists because I know them, but more on that below.

Bring Your Own Donors

While it is impressive that people surf for projects to donate to it is important to remember that 60% of people have only donated once, on that platform. About 80% have donated less than 10 times. Most people have to bring their own donors to a platform. If you are going to be crowdfunding expect to have to bring most of the donors in and don’t rely on the platform to do that for you. (More on platforms in a later post- is it worth it to use a platform, etc.)

Data Not Perfect and A Bit Scary

This is all a bit rough. Some people have given across multiple platforms and I have not filtered them out. Also, some platforms have registered multiple people when they give to multiple projects and I still need to filter them out which will remove some 2+ contributors.

This is the first time I have felt uncomfortable gathering data. I saw the names of friends, acquaintances, social media connects, professional colleges, etc. But more than that is that in some cases I can see how much money they have given, across multiple platforms. It made me feel a bit stalker like. While all the information is publicly available it has not been connected up in this way. I am looking at a way to anonymize the data before I post it here.


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