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Matched crowdfunding can generate new support for arts & heritage organisations, says report

Matched crowdfunding can generate new support for arts & heritage organisations, says report

Matched crowdfunding has great potential for generating income as well as new networks of supporters for UK arts and heritage organisations, a report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport DCMS, Nesta, Arts Council England, and Heritage Lottery Fund shows.

Seeking evidence of the financial and non-financial impacts of matched crowdfunding in the arts and heritage sectors, DCMS, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Nesta ran a nine-month pilot programme through Crowdfunder, providing £251,500 in match funding for crowdfunded projects.

The pilot funded 59 arts and heritage projects with popular projects including immersive opera in South London, to the restoration of the Royal Research Ship Discovery, in Dundee. The report, Matching the Crowd – combining crowdfunding and institutional funding to get great ideas off the ground, including surveys of backers and project owners, alongside analysis of crowdfunding platform data, reveals the results.

According to the report, the programme showed that matched crowdfunding could encourage additional money into the arts and heritage sectors, with the £251,500 provided by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund helping to leverage £405,941 from 4,970 backers. The offer of a match also boosted the average size of contributions by 17 per cent (from £63 to £74), making projects more likely to reach their funding target.

Another key finding was matched crowdfunding’s ability to help arts and heritage organisations reach new supporters. As many as 86% of backers had not previously supported those organisations financially, and 20% had never backed a project in the arts and heritage sector. For 78% of the crowd, the money they gave to the projects was in addition to what they would usually donate to charitable or philanthropic causes.

Beyond raising money, 85% of organisations running crowdfunding campaigns inspired the crowd to offer non-financial help, with backers providing feedback/advice to 38% of projects. One 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.

In addition, the connections formed by organisations during the programme have also led to ongoing support. For instance, 45% of projects discovered new partners or collaborators, 42% received offers of volunteering support, and 64% 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 added:

“This research 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.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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