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Arts and heritage organisations unlock new support as funding bodies combine with the crowd

  • Pilot shows potential for matched crowdfunding in arts and heritage projects, as £251,500 from funding bodies inspires the crowd to donate £405,941

  • Donors gave 17% more than those within comparable campaigns without match funding

  • 86% of donors were new supporters as they hadn’t previously financially backed those organisations

12 October 2017 - Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta today launched the findings of a pilot programme, in a report titled Matching the Crowd - combining crowdfunding and institutional funding to get great ideas off the ground. It reveals the potential of matched crowdfunding(1), to generate income and a new network of supporters for UK arts and heritage sectors.

Matched crowdfunding combines public, institutional or corporate funding with smaller donations from the public on online crowdfunding platforms. Launching in August 2016, the nine month pilot programme matched public funding with individual donations from the public to fund a total of 59 arts and heritage projects(2), through crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder. Popular projects ranged from immersive opera in South London, to the restoration of one of Britain's most important historic ships, the Royal Research Ship Discovery, in Dundee.

The programme proved the ability of matched crowdfunding to encourage additional money into the arts and heritage sectors, as the £251,500 provided by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund helped leverage £405,941 from a crowd of 4,970 backers. The offer of a match boosted the average size of contributions by 17 per cent (from £63 to £74), allowing projects to become more likely to reach their funding target.

Also among the most significant findings was the ability to help arts and heritage organisations reach new supporters, rather than drawing on their existing networks. As many as 86 per cent of backers had not previously supported those organisations financially, and 20 per cent had never backed a project in the arts and heritage sector.

For 78 per cent of the crowd, the money they gave to the projects was in addition to what they would usually donate to charitable or philanthropic causes, which highlights the opportunity to leverage more money for good causes through crowdfunding.

Beyond raising money, 85% of organisations running crowdfunding campaigns inspired the crowd to offer non-financial help. Backers provided feedback/advice to 38 per cent of projects, indicating the role of the crowd extending beyond funding towards shaping the campaign as it progresses towards its funding target.

For example, an arts project supporter recommended an artist to local festival promoters, left positive comments on the artist's profile, and also shared the campaign online. A heritage project supporter also offered to run community workshops for a project for free.

The connections that organisations formed during the programme have led to ongoing support beyond the money raised. For instance, 45 per cent of projects discovered new partners or collaborators, 42 per cent received offers of volunteering support, and 64 per cent gained further supporters for their project after crowdfunding.

Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, said: “Nesta has been tracking the crowdfunding sector since 2010, including the growing involvement of institutional funders. This pilot programme has given us unique quantitative evidence that arts and heritage funders can make public money work harder by matched funding.”

Phil Geraghty, CEO of Crowdfunder commented: “We were delighted to be part of this groundbreaking research commissioned by Nesta which marks an important moment in the history of crowdfunding as it brilliantly illustrates crowdfunding’s wider social impact. Its findings align with Crowdfunder’s mission to tackle societal challenges through making ideas happen. The UK grant market is worth £5.6 billion and this report suggests that if this money was distributed via crowdfunding, the impact could be significantly amplified, both in terms of unlocking additional funds and building skills and non financial support from the community.”

The report, Matching the Crowd - combining crowdfunding and institutional funding to get great ideas off the ground, is available to download via: Interviews are available upon request with Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta.

- Ends -

For more information contact Anna Zabow in Nesta’s press office on: 020 7438 2697/2543, [email protected]

Notes to Editors

  1. Matched crowdfunding is the process by which public, institutional or corporate funding is combined with smaller donations raised from the public on online platforms. It has emerged over the previous few years as a new way to get ideas and projects off the ground – ranging from small community projects to larger capital or regeneration-focused ventures. Nesta estimates that more than £1 million of matched funding was available for crowdfunded projects in 2016, used by local and national governments, trusts and foundations, businesses with a focus on corporate social responsibility, and universities and schools. Despite this growing interest from funders, there have been no match funds focused specifically on the arts and heritage sectors.

  2. Two funds were launched on Crowdfunder in 2016 to help fund projects from 35 individual artists in England and 24 Heritage Organisations in the North West, South West and Scotland.

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

About Arts Council England: Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

About Heritage Lottery Fund: Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported and #NationalLottery.

About Crowdfunder: Crowdfunder is the UK’s largest  rewards crowdfunding platform having raised over £38m for community, business and social enterprise projects across the UK. Its first pioneering local campaign, Crowdfund Plymouth has raised almost £1,000,000 for over 140 projects in 18 months.


Anne Young, Head of Strategic and Corporate Planning at Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This matched crowdfunding programme has proved to be an effective way of increasing public support for heritage.  It has been particularly interesting to see how match funding from National Lottery players has helped to boost the size of crowd-funded donations and help the organisations involved extend their range of supporters and volunteers. Funding can be very competitive to secure and we encourage others to consider new ways such as crowdfunding to source support and local buy-in for their work.”

Francis Runacres, ‎Executive Director, Enterprise and Innovation at Arts Council England, commented: "This research has shown some significant findings and has provided valuable insight to how arts and cultural organisations and funders can best engage with crowdfunding platforms and the potential wider benefits of doing so. The report is timely in that we are looking at research and evidence to inform policy and funding programme development in this area and how best to support the future resilience of the sector."

John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: "This is a very encouraging pilot that shows how arts and heritage organisations can successfully diversify their income through matched crowdfunding. By using crowdfunding platforms, groups can also access a range of additional benefits, including stronger partnerships, increased volunteering and public feedback on their campaigns."