A Thesis Finale

Katie Dune

In reflecting on the last year of thesis research, analysis, and writing, I am left with a glimpse into a topic that is advancing and changing by the day. In approaching crowdfunding, I expected to find cases of both success and failure throughout the museum field. However, along with these expectations, I understood that I, myself, was a novice on the topic and those who had attempted crowdfunding campaigns concurred with this feeling. Through interviews, case studies, and general professional conversations, I am able to move forward in my study and work in crowdfunding with a herd of other museum professionals eager to adapt and take risks in able to sow great reward. Some of these case studies included the Woodland Park Zoo, Pizza Brain, the Tesla Science Center, Freer | Sackler, and the Museum of Food and Drink. These institutions are at the forefront of the museum crowdfunding industry and notable in their strategy, success, and transformation in the field.

In an industry heavily reliant on its ability to relay its mission and message, new creative resources such as crowdfunding allow institutions to tap into a new and lively forum: the digital user. Through this thesis, I focused by research on how institutions are able to reach the Millennial generation through crowdfunding. While this is an important and influential audience to reach, crowdfunding has the ability to reach not only Millennials, but all active online participants. Digital fundraising and crowdfunding merges the fields of development, marketing, communications, and education in regards to how these campaigns are structured, implemented, discussed, presented, and followed-up with. This de-compartimentalizing may help to not only unify the institution’s message and mission, but to also further connect staff to their audiences.

In wrapping up this program, the thesis presented an opportunity for us graduate students to really dig deep and think creatively about how a field so deeply rooted in tradition and integrity is approaching change, instability, and the ever evolving visitor. As far as crowdfunding is concerned, new research and data is collected every day and is ripe with possibility.