Match funding can increase public giving to the arts by 17% – report

A pilot study suggests matched crowdfunding encourages the public to donate more than they would otherwise. Photo: Shutterstock A pilot study suggests matched crowdfunding encourages the public to donate more than they would otherwise. Photo: Shutterstock
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Arts organisations can raise an extra 17% in public donations when they use match funding, new research has revealed.

Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nesta and the Department for Culture, Digital, Media and Sport have launched the findings into a pilot study on combining crowdfunding with match funding from institutions.

Launched in August 2016, the nine-month pilot programme matched public giving with individual donations from the public to fund a total of 59 arts and heritage projects, which included an immersive opera in south London.

ACE matched the amount made from crowdfunding campaigns by individual artists and arts organisations with incomes of less than £200,000, while Heritage Lottery provided funding to match crowdfunding campaigns by heritage organisations in the UK. They contributed a total of £251,500.

Two models of match funding were used in the pilot. The first was a top-up model, in which 25% of match funding is released once a project manages to achieve 75% of its funding target.

The second was given to projects that had crowdfunded up to 25% of their target, providing another 25% to bring them to 50%. The funding is conditional on the project going on to raise the final 50%.

The programme demonstrated the ability of matched crowdfunding to encourage members of the public to donate more than they would otherwise, with the offer of a match boosting the average size of contributions by 17% (from £63 to £74), allowing projects to become more likely to reach their funding target.

The £251,500 provided by ACE and Heritage Lottery Fund during the pilot helped leverage £405,941 from a crowd of 4,970 backers across all the projects.

Hasan Bakhshi, Nesta’s executive director for creative economy and data analytics, 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.”

According to the research, match funding also enabled organisations to reach new supporters, with as many as 86% of backers having not previously supported those organisations financially, and 20% having 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.

Additionally, 45% of projects discovered new partners or collaborators, 42% received offers of volunteering support, and 64% gained further supporters for their project after crowdfunding.