Understanding UK Crowdfunding
By Dr Jo Briggs
Still in its relative infancy in the UK, online crowdfunding is growing rapidly and facilitating myriad new products and services, connecting ‘fundraisers’ requiring resources for a cause, project or business, with numerous ‘funders’ who have money to donate, buy or invest, often in relatively modest amounts.
While mapping out a typology of crowdfunding practices it became evident that the sector in the UK is also undergoing significant change as new platforms emerge and others merge in response to competition and regulation. Also, Government schemes have motivated funders with tax incentives and fundraisers, especially in the realm of social innovation, through various ‘match funding’ schemes. The subsequent research phase then has necessitated an explorative approach involving stakeholder engagement to help us to make sense of this shifting space. This has included participating in the Westminster Crowdfunding Forum which brings together representatives from large and small platforms, the UK Crowdfunding (trade) Association and also politicians and researchers to share up-to-date information from multiple perspectives. Regionally, we are in conversations with the local authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Mid-term research findings are interestingly revealing a wide range of non-monetary crowdfunding benefits which will now inform our future research. In context of PaCCS it’s interesting to note that online crowdfunding is increasingly being used in politics. The Green Party for example has promoted crowdfunding as a democratic and practical way of raising deposits to stand in elections; while in the US, copyright activist and academic Lawrence Lessig has used crowdfunding in his goal of bringing about campaign finance reform, raising substantial funds and political-awareness while also rallying wide political support.
Dr Jo Briggs is an Anniversary Research Fellow in Interactive Media Design at Northumbria University. Dr Briggs is currently completing a scoping study on the rapidly expanding, heterogeneous field of UK crowdfunding.