Exploring the Seattle museum community's perceptions toward crowdfunding
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The goal of this study is to understand how Seattle's emerging museum professionals of the Millennial generation think crowdfunding may affect a museum's relationship and standing with its stakeholders. The inclusion criteria of age and location focus this study on a generation familiar with online technologies in a city ranked highest in the nation for total online giving. Yet, Seattle museums rarely use crowdfunding to raise funds. By identifying Seattle emerging professionals' perceptions toward crowdfunding, this study seeks to offer insight into the present and future status and viability of crowdfunding in the Seattle museum community. Study participants were recruited using a combination of convenience and snowball sampling methods. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants from the University of Washington Museology Graduate Program and four Seattle museums. These interviews were transcribed and coded for emergent themes, patterns, and anomalies. Participant attitudes toward crowdfunding were generally positive, citing features and benefits like the ease of implementation and use for museums and contributors and improved public engagement and visibility for museum projects and needs. However, many participants were also concerned about crowdfunding's potential negative impacts. Some wondered if crowdfunding might detract from a museum's current development efforts, making existing donors feel less recognized or valued. Others thought a museum crowdfunding campaign might imply that a museum is desperate for funding, thus hurting the museum's image and standing in the community. Although the study sample's small size and potential biases mean that results cannot be generalized across the population, the overall positive attitudes toward crowdfunding suggest that some emerging museum professionals do find crowdfunding a viable form of fundraising worthy of further exploration. The features, benefits, and concerns cited by study participants offer a useful starting point for further investigation.
- Museology