Matched crowdfunding for the arts and heritage sectors in the UK

The matched crowdfunding for the arts and heritage sector project in the UK provides grants to ‘top up’ finance generated by projects through crowdfunding. Using the Crowdfunder platform, the project has made available €300,000 to support the sector for small business who need additional funding above the level they can normally hope to generate through crowdfunding.

Name of project: Matched crowdfunding for the arts and heritage sectors

Funds available:  £300,000

Main investors from the public sector: Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Type of crowdfunding: Matchfunding commissioned by public sector agencies

Platform: NESTA using the Crowdfunder platform

Sector: Arts & heritage sectors

Country: UK 

The project context started with a UK Government cultural white paper which set out public sector support for the cultural sector. The paper recognised a number of challenges, a key one being the lack of funding to support the development and growth of the sector- particularly from the public sector. A pilot project linked to crowdfunding and in particular the use of match funding from the public sector to maximise opportunities from crowdfunding. NESTA were commissioned by various public sector agencies to develop and run the pilot, with the main aim of testing different models. The project ran for a year and has been extended into in second phase. Matchfunding is where finance from mainly public sector organisations is matched with crowdfunding on an online platform. The most common approach to matchfunding linked to the cultural and creative sector in the UK is, where there is a top up of funding from an institutional funder in the form of a grant investment or a loan to the project or business. For example, if an artist raises 70% of their target through crowdfunding then the matchfunder tops up the remaining 30%. Matchfunding also exists where there is an upfront payment or promise that for every 1 euro of crowdfunding secured, a further 1 euro of matchfunding is given. Between 1,200 euros and 12,000 euros is available to match a total of 25 per cent of a crowdfunded project with the other 75 per cent coming from the crowd

Does matchfunding work? Does it encourage more and better forms of crowdfunding in the cultural sector? It definitely helps ‘stretch’ public sector funding and makes it go further than just giving a public sector grant to a creative and cultural business. This means there is generally a larger economic impact as a consequence of the public sector support. Interestingly, the pilot is looking at whether the matchfunding replaces what the crowd would have eventually generated in the absence of public sector finance (i.e. is matchfunding adding value or just replacing crowd funding?). The research into the pilot also suggests that matchfunding where for every 1 euro of crowdfunding is automatically matched with 1 euro of public sector match is the most effective in generating finance. The research shows that the crowd are more likely to invest in a project if they know they are effectively encouraging double the investment.