Conference PaperPDF Available

Crowdfunding: Why People are Motivated to Post and Fund Projects on Crowdfunding Platforms.

Crowdfunding: Why People Are Motivated to Post and
Fund Projects on Crowdfunding Platforms
Elizabeth M. Gerber, Julie S. Hui, Pei-Yi Kuo
Northwestern University
Creative Action Lab
2133 Sheridan Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 USA
{egerber, juliehui, pykuo}
Computer-mediated crowdfunding is an emerging paradigm
used by individuals to solicit funds from other individuals
to realize projects. We are interested in how and why these
platforms work and the impact they can have on what
projects are realized and how they are disseminated in the
world. In this paper, we report preliminary findings from a
qualitative exploratory study of creators and funders on
three popular crowdfunding platforms. In addition to
anticipated extrinsic motivators, such as securing funding
(creators) and consuming products and experiences
(funders), our initial findings suggest that people are also
motivated to participate because of social interactions
realized through crowdfunding platforms, such as
strengthening commitment to an idea through feedback
(creators) and feelings of connectedness to a community
with similar interests and ideals (funders). We present this
research in the context of what we are calling motivational
crowdwork, the investigation of motiv ation as it relates to
online task outsourcing, and discuss ideas for ongoing work
in this area.
Author Keywords
crowdfunding, motivation, online community
ACM Classification Keywords
H5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI):
Crowdfunding is defined as an open call over the Internet
for financial resources in the form of a monetary donation,
sometimes in exchange for a future product, service, or
reward. [1][2]. Crowdfunding uses web technologies and
existing online payment systems to facilitate transactions
between creators (people who request funds) and funders
(people who give money). Crowdfunding platforms, such as
RocketHub, Kickstarter, and IndieGoGo provide
opportunities for anyone with Internet access to pitch an
idea to their social network and beyond and to gather
funding to realize their work. Ideas span across fields and
vary in scope, from a jazz musician seeking funds to
embark on a tour, to an academic looking for money to
write and self-publish a book, to a product designer with an
idea for an iPod holder.
Soliciting money from the crowd stands in contrast to
traditional fundraising efforts such as securing funds from
banks, venture capitalists, and foundations. Creators
develop a profile on a crowdfunding platform and explain
their monetary goals, planned use of the funds, and timeline
for reaching their goals. As an example, two friends with an
idea but no connection to capital raised USD $306,944 in
37 days to develop a coffee warming product on a
crowdfunding platform [3]. In the process of exploring
crowdfunding, they developed an innovative coffee
product, marketed the idea, managed customers and
finances, and delivered a product. Funders who pledged $40
or more received the new product when the fundraising
goal was achieved.
Currently, there are more than 50 crowdfunding websites in
the US, and they are experiencing an exponential growth in
popularity., which started in 2009, now has
more than $7,000,000 pledged per month [4].
A funder considers whether to fund a project on Kickstarter, a
crowdfunding platform. Initial findings suggest that people are
motivated to launch and fund projects on computer-mediated
crowdfunding platform s because of social interactions and
feelings of connectedness to a community with similar interests.
Despite the explosion of research around social networks
and online communities in the Human Computer
Interaction (HCI) research community, few scholars have
examined crowdfunding. Understanding crowdfunding is
critical as small individual contributions from creators and
funders can lead to the formation of new companies, the
realization of new professional identities, and
fundamentally impact how we function economically and
socially as it changes how, why, and which products and
services are brought into existence.
This exploratory study attempts to understand what
motivates participation in crowdfunding and how designers
can make use of motivational affordances, the properties of
a design that determine whether and how it can support
one’s motivational needs [5], to influence user behavior.
The paper is organized into three sections. The introduction
sets the stage for this work, including a history of
crowdfunding and related research on social lending, online
communities, and buying and giving behavior. The second
section presents our current research and initial findings
from our ongoing research project, identifying motivations
from both the creators’ and funders’ perspectives. The third
section discusses the broader implications of this work and
our ideas for continuing research, as this work is
preliminary. This exploratory study is one of the initial
studies investigating motivations for participation in
crowdfunding from a behavioral science and human
computer interaction perspective.
History of Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is derived from the broader concept
of crowdsourcing. Coined in 2006, crowdsourcing is
defined as a way to harness the creative solutions of a
distributed network of individuals [6]. The vision of
crowdfunding is to harness the power of the crowd to fund
small ventures, projects that are unlikely to get funded by
traditional means, using crowdfunding platforms or social
networks, such as Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook [7]. To
realize this vision, crowdfunding platforms provide a
platform for creators and funders to exchange resources to
realize ideas.
Before computer-mediated crowdfunding, creators often
engaged in personal crowdfunding initiatives. For example,
musicians would publicly ask their fans to fund a
new album or tour. Fast-growing crowdfunding platforms
now fund a diverse range of projects, such as fashion, film,
product design, and software.
This year, the US government recognized crowdfunding as
a key to economic growth because it allows more
individuals to engage as producers and consumers in the
economy without the backing of high net-worth individuals
or institutions. On November 3, the US House of
Representatives passed The Entrepreneur Access to Capital
Act, to encourage more people to request and back
ventures. The legislation is sitting in the Senate for approval
[8]. Such governmental interest and support suggests that
crowdfunding will continue to grow.
Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, RocketHub,
and IndieGoGo have typically been used to post “creative
projects seeking funding in return for a reward, often in
the form of a tangible product or experience. Unlike
disaster relief donation sites, funders expect something in
return for their pledge. Unlike peer-to-peer lending
platforms like [9], funders did not expect to be
repaid monetarily. And unlike peer-production platforms
such as Wikipedia [10], participants are seeking funding
rather than cognitive resources to complete a task.
Crowdfunding Research
Crowdfunding research has primarily been the purview of
economists and management scholars. Economists study
consumer behavior and how consumers continually make
choices among products and services. They examine
advantages of crowdfunding such as practicing menu
pricing and extracting a larger share of the consumer
surplus, and disadvantages of crowdfunding such as
constraining the choices of prices to attract a large number
of funders [11]. Management scholars find crowdfunding
eliminates the effects of distance from funders whom
creators did not previously know [12].
Despite the link between motivation and contributions to
online communities [13], few scholars have investigated
motivations for crowdfunding. In a 2010 study,
Belleflamme and colleagues analyzed results from a closed
question questionnaire completed by 4 entrepreneurs who
used online crowdfunding platforms and found that raising
money, getting public attention, obtaining feedback on
product/service motivated participation. Our work seeks to
build on this initial work. We take a grounded research
approach to examine motivations for participating in
crowdfunding, rather than hypothesizing what is to be
found so as not to unnecessarily constrain the emergent
framework [14]. Gathering contextual details about
motivation will inform design principles for crowdfunding
platforms. Further, an examination of a diverse set of
participants including all types of creators and funders in
the crowdfunding community rather than just entrepreneurs
is needed to provide a rigorous framework for why people
participate in crowdfunding.
Peer-to-Peer Lending
Crowdfunding is related to peer-to-peer lending in which
individuals bid on microloans sought by individual
borrowers [15]. Like crowdfunding, few peer-to-peer
lending sites existed before 2005. The largest peer-to-peer
lending website is which has raised $74.85
million in funding since its inception [9].
To increase the number of projects funded, a handful of
marketing and communication scholars find strategies, such
as the use of hard information in product detail [16],
extended narratives and concrete descriptions [17],
endorsement by group leaders [18], and building strong
interpersonal connections [19], influences project funding
success, defined as reaching the funding goal.
HCI researchers find that while soft information, such as
personal information, leads to a more positive perception of
the borrower, it is not enough to reduce borrowing interest
rates [20]. In support of their study, Ortega and Bell,
conclude that ZOPA, a peer-to-peer lending platform
empowers members to construct their financial identities by
allowing them to make complex financial decisions [21].
While this initial research has inspired new best practices
for peer-to-peer lending, few HCI researchers have
explored a motivational perspective despite a demonstrated
link between motivation and online communities [13] [22].
Our research seeks to understand motivations for
participating in the separate, but related field of
crowdfunding in response to the rapid growth of the
phenomenon in the last three years.
Online Social Communities
Crowdfunding platforms depend on an online social
community. Drawing on the social sciences, scholars
propose how to get such a community started, integrate
newcomers, encourage commitment, regulate behavior
when there are conflicts, motivate contributions, and
coordinate those contributions to maximize benefits for the
community [23].
Scholars identify motivations for contributing to online
communities, including desire for knowledge, social
standing, peer companionship, approval, desire to improve
society, and to be autonomous [13]. Weng and Fesenmaier
categorize motivations in five main categories:
instrumental, efficacy, quality assurance, status, and
expectancy [22]. An example of instrumental motivation is
using Facebook to expand one's social network. Specific
instrumental motivations include seeking/providing
emotional support, finding friends/peers, relationship
building, group attachment/commitment, expressing
identity , and increasing self-esteem/respect. Second, an
example of efficacy as a motivation is providing health
advice on an online health forum. Efficacy motivations
include satisfying other members' needs, being helpful to
others, seeking/providing advice, and sharing enjoyment.
Third, an example of quality assurance motivation is editing
Wikipedia to make sure information is correct and up to
date. Basic quality assurance motivations are controlling
products, service quality, and enforcing
suggestions/evaluations. Fourth, status motivations include
gaining prestige and attaining status in the community.
Lastly, an example of expectancy as a motivation includes
waiting for a reply on a Twitter feed. The main expectancy
motivations are seeking future exchange from anybody and
seeking future exchange from someone who provides help
Our work seeks to build on this work. But, rather than focus
on communities organized around knowledge sharing, we
focus on communities organized around funding.
Motivations for Giving
Researchers who study the psychology of giving seek to
understand why certain people give and how to get more
individuals to give. Factors for giving include sympathy
and empathy [24], guilt [25] , happiness [26] and identity
[27]. The framing of request can also influence the amount
of the donation [26]. For example, in laboratory and field
studies, researchers found that people will ultimately donate
more money to a charity if first asked how much time they
would like to donate (versus how much money they would
like to donate) [26]. Collectively, this research suggests that
motivations for giving are related to interpersonal
connections between the giver and the requester and
communication styles.
Similarly psychologists and marketing scholars seek to
understand why certain people buy and what influences
people to buy more. Pucinelli et. al. suggest that goals,
schema, information processing, memory, involvement,
attitudes, affective processing, atmospherics, and consumer
attributions and choices are the key elements of consumer
behavior that drive the consumer decision process [29].
With the rise of purchasing in virtual worlds, such as
SecondLife and EverQuest, researchers have begun to
examine why people purchase virtual items in virtual
communities with real money. Motivations include social
influence, perceived enjoyment, and character competence
[30]. Collectively, this research suggests that there are
personal and situational factors that influence monetary
To study the motivations for participating on computer-
mediated crowdfunding platforms, we are using an
inductive research approach [31]. Specifically, we are
conducting one-on-one semi-structured interviews with
crowdfunding creators and funders, following an interview
question protocol developed with the understanding that
additional questions may emerge as people provide
experiential information and/or as clarification is needed.
We are in the preliminary stages of our research.
We have interviewed 11 informants (5 women). Three
informants have exclusively created projects, 6 informants
have exclusively funded projects, and 2 informants have
both created and funded projects, and 3 senior executives
representative of each crowdfunding platform. Expertise
ranged from student to professional with 19 years of
experience. Project type range from DNA research to a
theatre project about race. Participants were recruited
through a snowballing method and were not compensated
for their participation.
Interviewed creators requested between $2,000 to $6,000
and raised between $2,261 and $9,961. Interviewed funders
pledged between $5 and $250. Individual funders supported
between one and three projects. All participants are US-
based creators and funders.
Within the next 5 months, we intend to conduct interviews
with 30 project funder and creator pairs (total of 60 people).
Our semi-structured interview protocol is divided into three
sections. In the first section, we ask participants about their
professional background and how they learned about and
became engaged in crowdfunding. During this time we are
trying to establish a rough timeline of the creator or
funder’s experience, which we can use to understand the
sequence of actions and associated motivations.
During the second phase, we ask participants to describe
their motivations for using a specific crowdfunding
During the third and final phase, we ask participants how
crowdfunding influenced them and their work. We also ask
them about current involvement today and to share any
additional comments. The goal of this phase is to
understand how crowdfunding influences them personally
and the way in which they work.
The average length of the interview is 30 minutes (with a
minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 1 hour and 3
minutes). Six of the interviews were conducted over Skype
or phone. All interviews are audio-recorded and transcribed
for analysis.
Interviews are being conducted at different stages of the
funding process to understand if motivations differ over
time. The advantage to this research approach is the ability
to collect real-time data, not just reflective data; the
disadvantage is that bias is introduced through participant
observation [32].
Data Analysis
We are interested in why people use crowdfunding from
both the creator and funder perspective. To do this, we
reviewed all transcripts and used the process of open coding
[31], in which we coded all instances where informants
communicated motivation. After identifying all of the
instances, we clustered motivations into conceptual
categories. We plan to apply (and possibly modify) these
codes when we have more data using Nvivo, a qualitative
data analysis software used to code interview transcriptions.
The next section presents these themes grounded in data
collected during the interviews, which illustrates the
phenomena and pertinent behavioral research. All
quotations are directly transcribed from interviews without
grammatical corrections. We organize these findings to
present a new framework for why and how people
participate in crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding Platforms
We selected Kickstarter, RocketHub, and IndieGoGo as our
computer mediated crowdfunding platforms to study. On all
three platforms, creators own the intellectual property and
funders receive a “reward” in return for their donation.
Examples of rewards include a ticket to a concert, a
product, or a lunch with the creator. Funders do not become
owner nor do they expect to be paid back. Compared with
all Internet users, crowdfunding platforms tend to appeal to
childless college graduates under the age of 35 who browse
from work and have incomes over $30,000 [33]. The time
spent during a typical site visit ranges from 4 to 5 minutes.
While three sites identify as services providing an
alternative funding model to the arts and sciences (broadly
defined), there are differences in audience demographics,
funding models, and terminology.
Kickstarter attracts creators and funders from the USA,
whereas RocketHub and IndieGoGo attract creators and
funders globally.
Kickstarter uses an All-or-Nothing funding model, which
means that if a funding goal is not reached, the funds are
returned to the funder and the creator receives no funds [3].
The success rate is 43% [4]. RocketHub adopts the All &
More fundraising system. Creators can keep the money
they raise even though their funding goals are not
achieved. If creators reach or exceed their funding goals,
RocketHub will offer an additional benefit, which is to
waive the submission fees (4%) for creators’ first five
projects launched [34]. Similar to RocketHub, IndieGoGo
uses the keep-what-you-raise funding model. However, a
higher fee will be charged from creators if they don’t
realize the funding goals [35]. All require the creators to
pay the payment process fee (if the goal is reached)
charged by Amazon Payments or Paypal (between 3-5%)
While Kickstarter refers to people who request funds as
“creators,” RocketHub refers to people who request funds
as “creatives,” and IndieGoGo refers to people who request
funds by their domain expertise (such as “designer”
“inventor,” or “activists”) [3][34][35]. When describing the
results from our qualitative study, we refer to people who
request funds as “creators.” Similarly, while Kickstarter
refers to people who pledge funds as “backers,” RocketHub
refers to people who pledge funds as “fuelers,” and
IndieGoGo refers to people who pledge funds as “funders”
[3][34][35]. When describing the results from our
qualitative study, we refer to people who pledge funds as
Preliminary Findings
We report preliminary findings for why people participate
in crowdfunding from both the funder and creator
perspectives and offer qualitative evidence from our
interview data.
Creators: Raise Funds
Our preliminary findings suggest that creators participate in
crowdfunding for the anticipated reason of raising funds.
As one innovator commented:
“We used [Kickstarter] as our fundraiser. It was good for
us because we didn’t have a way to collect money.”
Not only do platforms provide a way to collect payments
online, crowdfunding platforms also provide a way to
accept small payments from a large number of people. As
one creator commented:
"I think the basic reason for m e to use [Kickstarter] is
getting financial support from a lot of small contributions,
which I like, which is different from going and applying for
a grant, from, you know, an organization. it’s a very
different process. And I like the process of … crowdfunding.
It’s satisfying.”
Not only are creators motivated to raise funds, but they are
motivated to raise funds in a democratic way. A respondent
“…it feels…you know, democratic, and people are able to
contribute if they want and not to contribute if they dont
Platforms encourage creators to submit a project even if
securing financial resources are not critical to its success.
On the Kickstarter website in response to the frequently
asked questions, “I’d like to use Kickstarter to get my
project out there, but I don’t really need money. Is that
okay?” Kickstarter responds:
Kickstarter is about more than just money. A Kickstarter
project is a great way to connect with your audience and
spread the word about your work .”[3]
Funders are motivated to raise funds in a way that is
consistent with their values. This is consistent with identity-
based motivation in which people are motivated to give in
ways that are consistent with their identity [27]. This is also
consistent with identity-based motivations for joining
online communities [13].
Creators: Establish Relationships
In addition to raising funds, initial evidence finds that
creators are motivated to engage in crowdfunding for the
direct connection to the funders through a long term
interaction that extends beyond the moment of the financial
transaction. An informant noted:
“[The funding process] creates a longer-term connection to
people that you know. Weeks later, months later, you’re still
interacting, and they are expecting to get something….I
think potentially you can build relationships with people,
you know, over the course of time.”
Such committed long-term interactions allow creators to
collaborate directly with funders, blurring the role between
producer and consumer. An informant noted:
“[Participating in Kickstarter] made me realize that I don’t
want my projects to be like only mine. Like, I want others to
share in my projects. So, I think all of my projects moving
forward, they would all have some type of either
interactive, interactivity to them? Or some means of crowd-
based engagement.”
The long term relationship stands in contrast to the short
term relationship that occurs in many online financial
transactions, however it is consistent with many online
communities that are not focused on financial transactions,
such as online discussion communities [13].
Creators: Receive Validation
Initial evidence suggests that a creators online validation
increases perceptions of ability. Peoples beliefs in their
ability increase when they have successful experiences and
receive public recognition of their success [36]. An
informant who sought funds for a youth photography
workshop documenting neighborhood improvements
commented on the effect of crowdfunding on his
confidence to complete the project:
“I feel much more confident about my ability to do it [his
An informant describes her experience before launching her
project and how her confidence increased through online
“You sort of wonder if people are going to like you and like
your research, and so I definitely got more confident once
people were clearly interested in it and clearly engaging in
the dialogue and supporting me financially.”
A founder of RocketHub describes how validation occurs.
Funders seek funds from a community of people who care
not just about the project, but about the individual’s
success. The founder explains:
You are embedding yourself in an active community…you
are being validated…Friends and families become
evangelists for you…these are completely normal people
[creators] and they are working way outside their comfort
zone…With crowdfunding, you are allowing people to do
something…You have people saying, I believe in you.
Online validation supports perceptions of ability and pushes
people to expand capability. This finding is consistent with
social cognitive theory, which suggests that people build
beliefs in their ability through social interactions [36]. This
finding is supported by prior research in online
communities, which finds that people engage in these
communities to build self-esteem [22].
Creators: Replicate Successful Experience of Others
Initial findings suggest that people participate in
crowdfunding because they want to replicate the success of
others [37]. An informant describes how her project success
helped encourage another creator to pursue crowdfunding:
“There’s a fellow archeologist that I’ve never met, but she
just started a new Rockethub project, and so she’s in the
process of funding, and she claimed to be inspired by me.
Another informant spreads out his successful Kickstarter
experience to people he knows after he launched a project,
and several people got motivated and started to follow
along and participate in crowdfunding as a creator:
"After I did this Kickstarter fundraising, and it was
successfula number of people I know started their own
Kickstarter projects. I think, I kind of, you know motivate
some people to try it themselves."
Successful experiences can be replicated among people
through social proof. Beyond establishing general
relationships within the online community, creators not
only generate more interest among people but also show
them how to become a creator recognized by the larger
online community through doing. Seeing other creators
succeed in launching a project online provides social proof
for anyone who wants to get started and become a creator
on crowdfunding platforms.
While these initial findings are consistent with prior
literature on motivations for engaging in online
communities [11], this study offers a new perspective. For
example, our in itial findings suggest that people engage in
crowdfunding when they see others do it. Social proof
describes this phenomenon of people behaving in ways that
they see others behaving. In experimental studies, Cialdini
finds that when confederates look up into the sky,
participants will look up into the sky to see what they are
seeing. Seeing others provides social proof for one’s both
simple and complex tasks [38], such as deciding to
participate in crowdfunding. When watching similar others
engaging in a task, people are also likely to gain confidence
in their own ability to complete the task. Such vicarious
learning [37][36] allows people to engage in new tasks
which they have not experienced before.
Creators: Expands Awareness of Work through Social
Initial findings suggest that creators were motivated to
participate in crowdfunding because it expanded their
awareness through social media. An anthropologist who
used RocketHub to fund her research on ancient Roman
skeletons, described being motivated to not only share her
work publically but engage in a dialogue about her work.
I’ve gotten dozens of emails from people around the world
who are really interested in the project, and who want to
help on the scientific end or telling their friends and family.
A documentary TV producer contacted me these are
things that don’t normally happen if you just have a grant
proposal, or you have an article in the journal, you know,
that maybe nobody reads. And so putting it out to the public
um has been really, really great for me[My project] was
picked up on Twitter by a British science journalist, and so
he pitched it to CNN, and then CNN covered it and Forbes
covered it and then everything just went crazy after that... I
really didn’t expect thisI’m really excited that people are
just so, so excited about this project that they're willing to
give me $20 or $50 or $1000.”
In addition to the online communication about her work, the
monetary gifts confirms that awareness of her work is
Participation also influenced her online profile. She
“I’ve been communicating with people through Twitter,
I’ve gained a bunch of new Twitter followers, a bunch of
new G+ followersI put up a website with a blog, and
people can comment on the blog…I wanted to engage the
public in a little more of a dialogue.”
Funders: Seek Rewards
While creators seek funds, funders seek rewards, often in
the form of tangible products and/or services. A funder who
funded an iPad accessory noted:
“I like to buy things that I can play with.”
Funders refer to the transaction as “buying,” “getting,”
“giving. A funder who contributed funds to a project that
employed local women in a Chilean community
“I like that I get something sent to me. I know it’s small, but
like, I enjoyed getting a postcard and a CD…I’m looking
forward to getting a DVD if the project actually comes to
This funder anticipates getting a reward, a transaction that
is significantly longer than the typical consumer purchase
transaction, which occurs in the online market place, such
as on Amazon or in a brick and mortar store. The
transaction described above resembles the funding process
of the 12th studio album released by a British rock band
called Marillion in 2001. After Marillion successfully raised
$60,000 from their fans to finance their US tour, it turned to
their fans to finance the making of an album called
Anoraknophobia [38]. Fans were ask ed to pre-order the
album through the website before it was even recorded. It is
an unprecedented and successful activity appearing in the
music industry, with 12,674 albums preordered in total by
more than 12,500 fans.
A funder who contributed funds to a documentary film
project about the design of cities noted:
“I gave them 10 dollars10 dollars is a high definition
download of the film when it comes out. So, I was like, I’m
not going to give them 5 dollars, I’m going to give them 10
dollars because 5 more dollars will give me a high
definition download of this film. Great. Yea, I was like,
that’s worth it.”
Funders consistently reported being motivated to give to get
the product first or get a limited edition of the work.
A funder who supported a film commented:
“I want to see [the film] right when it’s out. So, instead of
giving $10, I gave $25.”
Initial evidence suggests that funders are aware of the
exchange of value. Further, they are disappointed when
funds are not used to produce rewards directly related to the
project. A funder who contributed funds to a weather
prediction app noted:
“Don’t spend that money on making t-shirts, spend it on
building software…I want to see, like, I know that my
money is being used well.”
Alternatively, another funder noted the sense of security she
felt by giving money through Kickstarter, which has an all
or nothing funding model.
“There’s a security to knowing that if the goal isn’t met, my
money doesn’t just get wasted.”
Consistent with previous research, people are motivated to
engage in crowdfunding to raise funds [7], however, to our
knowledge researchers have yet to consider the democratic
process of fundraising as a motivating factor. The words
which funders use to describe the transactions (“giving,”
“getting,” and “buying”) suggest they that crowdfunding is
motivated by both consumer as well as philanthropic
Funder: Support Creators and Causes
Initial data suggests that participating on a crowdfunding
platform can support creators and causes by confirming
values. An informant noted:
“It feels like youre creating value and getting something in
A serial funder on Kickstarter who tends to fund tech
projects because he likes the idea and because he wants to
support people who are seeking alternative ways of raising
funds to maintain creative control commented:
“I fund an idea that I think is really neat, but I also really
like the idea of people being able to get off the ground
without needing to buy into a big giant corporate structure,
and I like the way that people put the ideas they want out
instead of having to compromise those ideas in order to get
their product out.”
An informant described how she learned about the project
through blog entries and wanted to help the creator, a
friends’ brother, meet his goal.
“I read some of their blog entries and they were fineits
Grahams brother, I’ll just like give him some money. Like,
that will be nice…I think they were pretty close to their
goal, but they hadn’t quite reached it at that point, and I
was like, I think I’ll give them ten dollars.”
While many funders reported supporting friends, others
were motivated to support causes. When asked about her
motivation to fund projects, an informant described wanting
“seek design to create social impact…My goal is to be as
supportive of these initiatives as possible….from an identity
standpoint, that’s something that I would want to be
associated with.”
This initial evidence suggests that funders are motivated to
connect and support others in their social network by
helping them meet their goals.
Consistent with prior marketing research, identity
influences what actions people take and why they give [27].
People support efforts that are consistent with their identity
in this case the identity of helping others and supporting
causes. In this way, crowdfunding influences the type of
ideas that are realized, allowing for smaller niche markets.
Funder: Engage and Contribute to a Trusting and
Creative Community
Initial evidence suggests that funders participate in
crowdfunding to engage in a community. A contributor to
a Kickstarter campaign noted:
“From an emotional standpoint, my goal is to be a part of
this community of creatives.”
A senior executive at a crowdfunding platform noted:
“The way this model works is that people generally feel like
they are involved or engaged in the project throughout the
duration, and they give people opportunity to be involved in
something that they maybe otherwise wouldn’t have the
opportunity to be involved in, so just to be a part of
something is what really motivates people in those cases."
A serial funder who tends to support film and community
work noted the difference between the crowdfunding
community of which she is a part and the other creative
“I think in other domains….people could have a tendency
to feel competitive with people they are doing something
similar. But, what I think what’s unique about this space
[crowdfunding], is people feel more collaborative, so I feel
more like funding these types of projects as an act of good
will, and say like. hey you guys are doing great stuff. I think
we all need as much support as possible, and so I just
wanted to be a part of that uplifting force.
This finding is consistent with research for motivations for
engaging in online communities [13].
To date, crowdfunding has been the purview of economists
and marketing researchers who research how people buy
and sell products, services, and rewards to the crowd online
[39]. This study is one of the first studies to examine
crowdfunding from an HCI perspective specifically from
a motivational perspective and looking at both the creator
and the funder.
Creators are motivated to participate to raise funds, receive
validation, connect with others, replicate successful
experiences of others, and expand awareness of work
through social media. Funders are motivated to participate
in order to seek rewards, support creators and causes, and
strengthen connections with people in their social networks.
The study builds on established work research in online
communities but incorporates a new element which online
communities do not always include: the exchange of money
for product, services, or experiences. Our initial findings
suggest that funders build efficacy in their ability to
crowdfund. The efficacy is directed toward the specific task
of crowdfunding. This is consistent with Bandura's social
cognitive framework [37], which suggests that peop le build
competence through mastery experiences in a specific task.
Initial evidence suggests that people become funders after
watching similar others succeed at crowdfunding. They
build further competence when completing the task for
Initial data analysis also reveals motivational affordances of
the online platform that satisfy motivational needs.
Platforms that satisfy these motivational needs may
ultimately encourage a more diverse group of people to
launch their ideas, compared to platforms that do not satisfy
these motivation al needs. Additionally, funders and creators
may also support each other’s motivational needs.
Expectations for effective communication may increase
over time as funders become more sophisticated and less
forgiving of a creator’s novice business skills. Additionally,
with more participation, new models of sorting and
prioritizing opportunities for funders may help to direct
individuals with different identities, defined as traits,
characteristics, and goals [40]. Research suggests that such
identities are malleable and context sensitive and influence
what actions people take to help people make sense of the
world. Understanding identity within the context of
crowdfunding is important to ongoing engagement and
contributes to what we are calling motivational crowdwork,
or the investigation of motivation as it relates to online task
Since initial data analysis suggests that the design
influences motivation, platform providers could consider
how the design of the site influences creator and funder
participation. Designers of the platform could do A/B
testing to test the motivational affordances of particular
design features.
In this study, we chose to focus on creators and funders and
use a snowballing technique to gather participants. As
successful creators and funders tend to know other
successful creators and funders, we are finding it more
difficult to identify people who created and funded projects,
which were not successfully funded. We feel this data is
critical for understanding motivations for participation and
will work directly with our contacts with executives at the
crowdfunding platforms to identify such people.
Additionally, we acknowledge that motivations for
participations could be influenced by the time at which we
interview people. People who have funded a project and
received their reward may report different motivations than
people who have funded a project but not yet received their
Our informants are restricted to participating in one of three
crowdfunding platforms. We chose these platforms because
they are the three most popular platforms for “creative
work”. However, there are additional crowdfunding
platforms. It is possible that people who participate on other
smaller platforms have different interests and expertise and
therefore are motivated to participate in these platforms for
different reasons. However, research needs to be done to
understand these motivations.
Our initial findings suggest a number of areas for future
research. First, we plan to collect more data and do a deeper
analysis of motivations. In this analysis, we will examine
factors that may influence motivations, such as domains
and professional expertise. An accomplished musician, for
example, who has experience producing albums and has
relied on the crowd, in a sense, to fund his work may have
different motivations than a novice product designer, who
has pitched one idea to a venture capitalist and was
rejected. Additionally, the size of the creator’s social
network, their online presence, and funding level may
influence motivation to participate. For example, a creator
who requests $5,000 from his small social network may
have different motivations than a creator who requests
$100,000 and tweets regularly with her large social
network. Additionally, future work will examine how
expertise of the creator and project type, social network,
and online presence influence motivations.
Second, we plan to investigate how the same individual can
participate in three distinct roles including observer, funder,
and creator. While individuals initiate participation in
crowdfunding in one role, initial evidence suggests that
they transition between roles. For example, an individual
may start as an observer, checking on Kickstarter regularly
to learn about new projects and gain inspiration. After
weeks of observing, she may decide to launch her project.
After a successful launch, she may see a project launched
by a person who funded her and may chose to reciprocate
support. Future work will show how individuals engage in
different roles and how the extent of participation in each
role informs future choices.
Third, we will consider how participants learn innovation
skills through crowdfunding platforms. Innovation leads to
economic and social prosperity and we need people to have
the skills, attitudes, and expertise necessary to innovate.
Problems with this traditional model include the fact that
many aspiring young individuals cannot afford business
training, and even for those that can, the artificial
constraints of classroom settings often fail to recreate the
realities of the business world. There is a need for
accessible and practical approaches to innovation
education. The Web offers an unprecedented opportunity to
learn about innovation or the development and
implementation of novel and useful ideas [41]. The web and
online crowdfunding platforms offer a key source of
feedback that helps everyday people learn about the novelty
and usefulness of their ideas and provides a platform for
implementation. Posting a project on a crowdfunding
platform requires creators to address a general audience. An
informant explains how posting on a crowdfunding
platform required her to learn how to frame her work for
different audiences to attract attention:
I really think it helped me communicate with the public
and get them interested in my work…”
To communicate this work, this informant had to learn a
new form of communication in which she did not have prior
“I’ve never made a video before for my researchit was
really a lot of fun, so I really enjoyed that. That was not
something I had ever done before.
Another informant noted:
“I learned all of those tips about, you know, keeping
things very progressive sounding, and keeping the
vocabulary very positive vs. desperate.”
Creators learned new ways of communicating and effective
communication dialogue to engage their funding
community. Informants were motivated to learn new ways
of communicating in order to reach a larger audience.
Crowdfunding can possibly enable learning through
responses to funding requests, web analytics, qualitative
feedback, and tutorials on how to make funding pitches,
fulfill orders, etc. This work will explore how people learn
by design by taking on design challenges, learning
principles through participation, and getting feedback
through regular and public interaction [42].
Fourth, we will consider the individual strategies people use
to engage in crowdfunding. Initial evidence suggests that
creators and funders extensively rely on social media to
spread awareness of activity and promote engagement.
While creators primarily want to engage with the crowd,
one informant described designing his page on Kickstarter
to minimize the number of comments when he failed to
meet his deadline and felt overwhelmed by the
responsibility. Creators also describe strategies for fulfilling
orders on time such as hiring people to work for little to no
money as one creator did who hired teenagers to wrap and
send packages of his books to funders because he had
underestimated the time it would take to fulfill the orders.
Fifth, we will consider design principles to enhance creator
and funder participation on crowdfunding platforms to
ensure broader participation and encourage a variety of
projects to get out into the world. We will possibly
investigate including recommendation features, offering
users selective choices and alternative mechanisms for
financial and support, simplifying messaging, and
identifying as a full service provider
As HCI researchers, we must remember that motivations
are a fundamental part of what makes us human. Since HCI
is a humanistic field, it behooves us to consider the
motivational states of the user in relation to the technology
of interest. Doing so will help us design better technologies
that enhance performance and open doors to many new
research areas.
Computer-mediated crowdfunding is a relatively new area
of research in HCI, and we believe it is particularly
amenable to research on motivation. Importantly,
participation may have a significant effect on the economy
by encouraging a more diverse set of people to start small
entrepreneurial ventures, influencing the type of ideas that
are introduced into the world, and the use disposable
income to support these ventures. As HCI researchers
explore this phenomenon in new ways, crowdfunding
platforms can be improved in ways that benefit the creator,
funder, and society at large.
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... Lewat motivasi, penggalang dana terdorong untuk memulai aksi sosialnya. Motivasi juga penting menarik minat penderma terhap aksi sosial tertentu (Gerber et al., 2011;Hui et al., 2014;Zheng et al., 2014). Motivasi merupakan hasil konstruksi kognitif yang kompleks. ...
Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk memahami peran social media influencer sebagai aktor dalamcrowdfunding di media sosial. Penelitian ini penting karena dapat memberikan gambaran bagaimanasocial media influencer memobilisasi penggemarnya untuk terlibat dalam aksi sosial dan menyukseskan kampanye crowdfunding. Crowdfunding telah bertranformasi ke banyak bentuk salah satunya adalah melalui ptlafrom digital seperti situs web atau media sosial. Eksistensinya semakin diperkuat berkat pengaruh dari social media influencer yang memiliki basis penggemar yang besar. Penelitian ini menggunakan metode unobtrusive observation yang dilakukan secara virtual dan studi literatur dengan pendekatan kualitatif. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa terdapat tiga elemen penting yang dapat menentukan kesuksesan crowdfunding yaitu komunikasi visual, motivasi, serta kepercayaan dan transparansi. Crowdfunding dapat dikatakan sukses jika penggalang dana (fundraiser) sebagai aktor yang beperan dalam crowdfunding dapat memenuhi ketiga elemen tersebut. Dalam kasus penelitian ini, subjek penelitian yaitu social media influencer yang berperan sebagai penggalang dana mampu menjalankan perannya dengan baik. Media sosial secara maksimal dimanfaatkan sebagai tempat untuk membangun dan meningkatkan awareness kampanye crowdfunding lewat komunikasi visual,berinteraksi dengan penderma, dan sebagai tempat untuk memberikan informasi terbaru terkait realisasicrowdfunding.
... Many participants are lured by the prospect of winning prize money or securing additional perks, such as bonuses or career advancement. Yet, it is worth noting that the potency of extrinsic motivators can be contingent on individual predilections and the specific context (Gerber et al., 2012;Turner, 2017). ...
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In a dynamic business environment, the roles of contests and crowd-sourcing are increasingly acknowledged. However, the factors driving sustained participation in these arenas remain incompletely understood. To address this gap, our study investigates the factors that influence the ongoing engagement intentions of users on contest collection portals. We focus on the interplay between goal-congruent outcomes (GCO), search intention, and various motivational elements. We collected responses from 291 individuals between March 18 and 27, 2022, and conducted an analysis based on partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). Our analysis indicates that utilitarian motivation positively impacts both GCO and search intention. Career promotion specifically influences GCO, while rewards serve as key determinants of both GCO and search intention. Importantly, our findings underscore the role of GCO and search intention in shaping users’ intentions to continue participating. These insights offer significant implications for businesses and platform designers, emphasising the need to understand and cater to the diverse motivations of users to sustain their interest and engagement.
... Crowdfunding allows you to apply for social analysis and establish a link to seek for help on social media (Hui, Gerber, & Greenberg, 2012). Previous social media researchers have used crowdfunding to affect social capital, social interaction, social dynamics, and the social promotional process on various social networks, as well as to stimulate involvement in social media activities on various projects (Gerber, Hui, & Kuo, 2012). A large number of social media friends is also beneficial or associated with success (Etter, Grossglauser, & Thiran, 2013;Shafique & Khan, 2020a;2020b). ...
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The use of online communities to garner monetary support for charitable organisations, cultural endeavours, innovative products, and business ideas is quickly becoming more widespread. However, empirical research on the main dynamics of crowdfunding is limited. To increase the number of funds for crowdfunding campaigns, it is crucial to promote and publicise them on social media platforms. This study investigates the impact of communication and connectivity on crowdfunding success. Despite the recent study that has been conducted on crowdfunding, there is still a knowledge vacuum on the aspects that contribute to the success of crowdfunding models. The research framework that was built as part of this study offers an in-depth analysis of the donation-based crowdfunding model as well as the aspects that contribute to its success. This study also provides guidance for fundraisers and policymakers to consider success factors when creating their funding comparing.
... Those backers who have become committed to a project are often keen to contribute ongoing creative input (Hui et al., 2014). However, this once again relies on a suitably positive narrative around a project as backers must buy into the "cause" or social value of a project (Gerber et al., 2012;Gleasure et al., 2017). ...
Crowdfunding projects have been the subject of contrasting narratives. To many, they are the antithesis of predatory bottom-line business ventures. To others, they are an under-regulated vehicle for immature or unscrupulous project owners to exploit inexperienced and vulnerable investors. These differences are significant because many use crowdfunding to build public awareness and project a positive image. We use the myth of Prometheus—the Greek god associated with “defiant progress” and technological advancement—as a sensitising lens to build a set of competing dialectic archetypes. We then apply these archetypes through a Hegelian dialectic analysis of three high-profile crowdfunding campaigns. The study provides a foundation for discussion of the positive and negative narratives surrounding crowdfunded project owners and explicates the limitations of crowdfunding as an enabler of positive systemic change. The dialectic approach provides a systematic means of identifying the essence of disagreement between narratives. The use of myth offers a sophisticated means to look for “rhyming” phenomena, where the phenomena at play resemble the grand frailties of humankind throughout history.
Conference Paper
Crowdfunding, facilitated by platforms like Kickstarter, has revolutionized fundraising by enabling individuals to gather financial support from a broad audience through online channels. Kickstarter specifically caters to creators and fundraisers seeking backing for various creative projects, including movies, music, games, and technology products. Fundraisers create campaign pages, setting specific funding goals and timelines. Supporters can contribute monetary donations towards these projects and, in return, receive rewards corresponding to their contribution level. In this study, exploratory data analysis was employed to gain descriptive insights into crowdfunding data from Kickstarter. This data analysis technique allowed for a comprehensive examination of the characteristics of the crowdfunding campaigns on the platform. Exploratory data analysis in the context of crowdfunding encompasses studying contributor profiles, identifying the most successful campaign types, and exploring other factors that can impact the success of a campaign. we identified several influential factors that significantly impact the success of a crowdfunding campaign, such as launch time, category, duration, and funding goals of crowdfunding campaign. The results from this study can be used to get better results from the decision-making and modelling process.
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