Resources: Crowdsourcing as a method of fundraising

What is crowdsourcing or crowdfunding?

Crowdsourcing or crowdfunding is using an internet platform to find volunteers or raise funds. It is increasingly popular as a way of fundraising as well as of engaging groups and individuals in collaborative projects. The number of crowdsourcing platforms is large and increasing. Please see the list below for some of potential interest, especially for organisations which are charities. Effective e-communication (website, social media, e-newsletter, blogs) is essential.

What are the advantages of crowdfunding?

One reason to consider crowdfunding is because, for most smaller not-for-profit organisations such as local history societies, individual donations are far more significant than external grants. One survey has shown that on average 81% of funding for not-for-profit organisations’ projects came from individuals, while only 6% came from grants. The remaining 13% was largely from events such as book sales or from selling items online.
Crowdsourcing is especially attractive in cases where it necessary to offer match funding. Contributions from applicants, either in cash or in kind, can be offered in order to match money from grant-awarding bodies. This is a central element of many funding programmes.

Is crowdfunding relevant for smaller local history societies?

Local sources should still be the first port of call for local publications. For examples of successful fundraising for such projects, see ‘Spondon Archive Books’ by Anita Hayes (Local History News, no. 127, Spring 2018 pp.32-3).

What about other sources of grants?

Other possible sources of funding for local societies include charitable trusts. Many relating to heritage are listed by the Heritage Alliance in its Heritage Funding Directory ( If you have access to a good reference library, you may also like to consult the Directory of Grant-Making Trusts (very expensive:£125) .  See History Online lists sources of funding for historical research and related activities. See:
Successful bids for grants often depend on a close match with the objectives of the trust, clear outcomes, and a relationship which can be sustained. For example, the Marc Fitch Fund has strict criteria for financial support for historical publications or research and describes itself as ‘a fund of last resort’. See:

What about lottery or local authority funding?

There are many other sources of grants, particularly for community-based initiatives. Funding from local authorities may not be an easy option, but is still worth exploring. National sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF),  are listed on the My Community website: Further guidance on HLF grant programmes can be found at

From early 2019 HLF is changing its strategic funding framework to focus on a single funding stream awarding grants between £3000 and £5 million. HLF is unlikely to fund a publication as a sole objective of a funding bid, but may consider public engagement/outreach activities and outcomes which include publishing, whether hard copy or digital. Collaborative or regional applications are likely to be well regarded.

Are there any general limitations on fundraising?

Organisations which are charities should also be aware of the Charity Commission’s guidance on fundraising (

Crowdfunding platforms: an initial list

This is general guidance only and will be updated as appropriate

BT MyDonate

Charities only. Used by Norfolk Record Office’s charitable arm (Norah) on their website as a means of donating.

CAF donate

Charities only


Free of charge (advertisement-based platform)

Purpose is ‘to make the world a better place’. Principally a campaigning website for petitions, etc.


$55 per month

Many good features but a monthly fee is not viable for occasional campaigns


Keep 100% of what’s raided – donors pay credit card fees and are given the option to make an additional small donation to Chuffed

Campaigns need to be raising funds for a social, community or political cause


5% platform fee

3% payment processing fee

Offers ‘all or nothing’ and ‘flexible’ funding.

Has been used by Sheffield Archives, Mass Observation Archive and Plymouth Council


Totally free

Must have a PayPal account. Seems less professional than other sites


6% platform fee

3% payment processing fee

Part of GoFundMe. Only ‘free’ for two campaigns and then need to contact them for pricing


Charities only


2.4% plus 20p per transaction

Integrates well with Face Book, but very US focussed


5% plus card fees

Less charity focussed than some platforms. Used by a broad range of organisations


100% of donation goes to the fundraiser. Donor is charged 5% on top of donation amount.

Not for profit organisations can use the site. Same model as Eventbrite.


Seems to be primarily for charities and personal causes


5% fee plus Stripe payment processing fee of 3-5%

Funds not-for-profit organisations but not charities. Projects must create something to share with others. ‘All or nothing’ funding only


Supports small locally focussed charities and groups. Match funding essential: see


For broadly progressive social impact projects and organisations


Charities only

Charities only