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Successful Crowdfunding Strategies for Museums: Real-Life Case Studies

Let’s be real. The prospect of raising funds for your museum digitally can be a little daunting. Between striking the right tone with messaging, creating eye-catching graphics and working out how to best process financial contributions, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, there are online fundraising platforms that exist to help lighten the load and make digital fundraising easier for your museum.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most popular online fundraising platforms that that your museum can use for crowdfunding. There are more complex, CRM-integrated platforms that can help streamline your POS and fundraising efforts if your museum feels comfortable with digital fundraising and is looking for a seamless integration which we’ll mention, but today, the focus is on crowdfunding… So, let’s dive in!

De-mystifying crowdfunding for Museums

What exactly is crowdfunding? Simply put, it’s a way to earn money, awareness and support from people within your immediate circle as well as supporters far and wide. Most crowdfunding campaigns are based around specific projects, be it an exhibition or construction of a new learning space etc… The more specialised the goal, the better the chances are of attracting donors who identify with the cause and want to support that specific project. Crowdfunding’s proclivity for social sharing means that your messaging can go well beyond your typical support list but might bring in smaller donations instead of hefty contributions.

Whichever platform you choose for your museum fundraising efforts, it’s important to share your funding messaging and goals far and wide to maximise views and in turn, reap more financial reward. There are lots of platforms that can help amplify your museum’s voice and get your message out there. Today we’ll talk about three big-hitters: Crowdfunder, JustGiving and Indiegogo.


Museums and Crowdfunder

This UK-based platform has helped over 276,000 projects raise more than £100 million in support funds to date. In response to coronavirus, they’ve dropped their platform fees for projects affected by the pandemic to help organisations get back on their feet. A big incentive for using this platform is that they have extra funding available to projects that are looking to make a community impact.

In 2020, the Museums Association launched the UK-wide campaign, #SupportOurMuseums with Crowdfunder which raised over £200,000 to support museums affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This multi-museum crowdfunding effort was very successful with many museums meeting and exceeding their funding goals to ensure longevity and sustainability well beyond the pandemic. This campaign shows how eager people are to save, support and enjoy museums which is great news for the future of digital fundraising!

Although Crowdfunder isn’t yet used all around the world, they’ve just expanded to Canada and are continuing to broaden their international efforts. It is important to note that there are various levels of fees associated with Crowdfunder. Their platform fees range from 0% to 3% with a transaction fee of 1.9% + 23p (per pledge) + VAT on UK/EU cards. These types of fees are standard with many crowdfunding platforms and may be worth it depending on your fundraising goals. Be sure to run the numbers and assess how fees might impact your donors and final target before signing on.


Museums and JustGiving fundraising campaigns

With charity and corporate options, JustGiving offers fundraising possibilities for museums big and small. Their platform is quite international having helped 164 countries raise over $4.5 billion for good causes since they were founded in 2000.

The JustGiving platform is slick and offers corporations the ability to integrate their logo and branding with the functionality of the platform. They even offer the ability to launch a bespoke campaign page and create a branded microsite to help supporters feel like they’ve never even left your website. Although it’s free to sign-up and create a JustGiving page, a standard transaction fee of 2.9% + 25p (for donations made in GBP) is applied when donations are made.

In 2020, the UK-based National Videogame Museum launched an JustGiving campaign to raise funds to save the organisation from permanent closure due to coronavirus. Their campaign was wildly successful raising 251% of their £80,000 target with a whopping £201,146 available at the end of the crowdfunding deadline. Their JustGiving campaign was complimented by social media, email marketing, advertising and various other communication outlets.

It’s important to remember that these platforms exist to process donations and act as a hub for crowdfunding projects, but that just creating a page and not working to share it widely won’t result in meeting your funding goals. These platforms need to act as part of your digital fundraising campaign and it’s essential to create an integrated communications plan that spotlights your chosen platform within all of your interactions with audiences.


Museums and Indiegogo for crowdfunding

Indiegogo advertises itself as a hub for “crowdfunding campaigns and innovative products shipping now.” On this site, product launches are supported alongside crowdfunding campaigns in an environment that strongly focuses on “what’s new”.

Many of the museum-centric campaigns on this platform revolve around kickstarting museums and involving supporters from the ground up… literally.

In 2015, The Empathy Museum used Indiegogo to crowdfund the creation of a playful, mobile space to house their first exhibition, A Mile in My Shoes. They managed to raise an impressive £11,276 which was 75% of their £15,000 goal and because they had chosen Indiegogo’s Flexible Funding option, all of those proceeds went towards building their mobile exhibition space.

Indiegogo has several different funding options to choose from including the option to keep accrued funds even if the target goal isn’t achieved. You can learn more about their flexible versus fixed funding options here. One last thing to note before we “Indiegogo” is that there is a 5% platform fee and 3% + ¢30 transaction fee per donation.

If you are launching a unique project or museum with which funders can identify and financially support with lots of options and perks, then Indiegogo could be the right platform for you.

Wrapping up

Online fundraising platforms come in all shapes and sizes to fit your museum and support goals. It’s important to do your research before settling on one particular platform to make sure that it suits your museum’s individual needs and more importantly, allows you to reach target audiences.

If crowdfunding isn’t within your fundraising plan and you are looking for CRM-based platforms instead, we recommend looking at the following:

We may sound like a broken record, but it’s worth repeating that before you sign onto using any of these websites or platforms, it’s really important to do your research. Talk to other museums, get referrals and be sure that investing in an online fundraising platform is going to make your life easier, and not harder.

Watch this space for more digital fundraising articles, and keep in mind that MuseumNext has a plethora of helpful articles on all topics relating to what’s new in museums. For example, if you are a smaller museum and want to glean more helpful fundraising tips, be sure to check out this MuseumNext article on successful fundraising campaigns.

Now go forth and crowdfund for your Museum!


MuseumNext offer online learning for museum professionals striving for engaging, relevant and flexible professional growth content. Learn more about our virtual museum conferences here.

About the author – Devon Turner

Devon Turner is an Arts & Culture Writer. She has worked extensively in arts marketing for both the visual arts and performing arts in the US and UK. Now living in London, Devon works in the arts and culture sector and enjoys traveling to visit museums.

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