Museums are looking to CrowdFunding


By Katherine Kehoe,The North Carolina Museum of History is raising money through unconventional methods to fund new exhibits.
The N.C. Museum of History chose crowd funding instead of traditional fundraising to help raise $25,000 for an upcoming exhibit, which is set to open November of next year.
Crowd funding differs from traditional fundraising in that anyone can donate to the project in small increments as opposed to large thousand-dollar chunks. The museum used to fund “Starring North Carolina,” which will be a yearlong exhibit celebrating filmmaking in North Carolina.
According to Camille Hunt, the museum’s project manager, the museum chose to use the crowd funding website in an effort to engage donors in a new way.
Hunt said that turning to Internet crowd funding was partially inspired by a wildly successful campaign in New York, which raised more than $1.7 million for a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla.
“After seeing the success of the campaign to fund a Tesla museum, I thought we should definitely give it a try,” Hunt said.
Hunt said that most of the funds the museum receives from the state go toward employee salaries, insurance costs and building expenses. Hunt also said Funding for new exhibits must come from private contributions.
As an incentive to give to the project, the museum offers perks to crowd funding donors based on the amount contributed. For example, a donor who gives $36 gets a “Starring North Carolina!” T-Shirt as a reward for contributing.
Hunt said one of the strengths of this kind of campaign is that it creates a sense of belonging among contributors, and it gets them excited about donating in a new and trendy way.
“Not everyone can afford to be a high-level sponsor and crowd funding gives us all a chance to pitch in,” Hunt said. “Trends in giving are always changing. It is important to embrace new ideas.”
In addition to the filmmaking exhibit in the N.C. Museum of History, Hunt said the $25,000 goal will fund opportunities to learn about North Carolina celebrities, filming locations and a film festival.
According to Marshall Brain, a leader of the N.C. state Engineering Entrepreneurs Program, websites such as and have created a completely new way to gather donations for projects ever since they began gaining popularity in 2009.
Brain said that, for places like museums, this is a new way to raise funds.
“The big advantage is that the museum can reach a much wider audience of potential donors,” Brain said.
However, Brain said that crowd funding has some potential pitfalls that anyone should be aware of before starting or donating to an Internet campaign.
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