At a time when heritage budgets are being stretched, and competition for grants and awards is fierce, crowdfunding provides an additional alternative way of obtaining support for cataloguing and digitising your collections.
Between November 2016 and January 2017, the University of Stirling Archives raised £8,100 through a crowdfunding campaign to support the cataloguing and digitisation of the Peter Mackay Archive. The campaign was a successful first step into the realm of crowdfunding for the archives service and the university as a whole, our pilot project providing the model for subsequent university-wide campaigns. The organisation and management of a crowd - funding campaign requires a considerable investment of time and effort and is not without risks, but it can provide an archive service with valuable additional support for the conservation, cataloguing and digitisation of collections.
At Stirling we developed our project in partnership with the university's fundraising team. The opportunity to open up a new collection to researchers across the world through a programme of cataloguing and digitisation was the primary goal of the university archives. For the university's fundraisers the project fed into their strategy of innovative fundraising – aiming to engage with alumni in new ways.
Being able to draw on the knowledge and experience of our fundraisers was invaluable when we chose the right platform for our crowdfunding project. While the operation of most platforms is broadly similar, it is worth checking the fine print, as it can make all the difference to your project.
Our fundraising team identified Crowdfunder UK as being the most popular platform for the charity and university sectors. The choice of Crowdfunder was confirmed with the announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund in the autumn of 2016 of a new partnership programme providing match funding for up to 25% of total costs for specially selected Crowdfunder projects to enable them to reach their fundraising targets.
When we began to plan our crowdfunding project one of the first key tasks was to identify the audience for our campaign. Not every collection is suited to this form of fundraising. During the project we used social media to spread the campaign message far and wide, identifying and connecting with communities of interest around the world.