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Matchfunding: a citizen-driven cultural policy?

Matchfunding: a citizen-driven cultural policy?
Matchfunding is actually the act of matching money that has been collected through crowdfunding campaign with another type of funding, be it from money that has been provided by a private organisation, a fund, but also, it can also be a loan, or it can be matched, or the crowdfunded money can also be matched by public funds paid from local governments, regional governments, whatever. So that is actually what we mean with crowdfunding. It’s a very interesting mechanism that a lot of organisations, platforms, but also, governments are currently exploring across Europe.
Because it’s a way, when we look specifically at public actors, it is a way to leverage their public funds in a different way than we used to by just giving a grant.
How the mechanism works is there are different models when you look at matchfunding. Some work as every euro that a backer gives in a crowdfunding campaign is automatically matchfunded with the same amount of public funding. And then you can try to raise the amount that was targeted. In other models, it works like you have to raise at least 50% of the target amount through crowdfunding. And then the public authority tops up, or passes, or collects the additional 50%. Or other models, 20% is given by the public government. Then you have to raise a certain amount through crowdfunding. And then the last part can be, again, matchfunded. So these are different models, but the idea is the same.
So you match, actually, with another type of fund what you have raised through a crowdfunding campaign. The interesting thing with this matchfunding is that you combine– well, specifically, when we talk about a setting of crowdfunding combined with public money is where the distribution of public money without a– so traditionally, is you have a certain framework and conditions. And then if you comply with these criteria and an expert group has gone through your dossier and you can be elected to receive the grant. But it’s a rather top-down decision to decide in which projects the governments will invest. In a matchfunding system, you actually combine bottom-up input from the crowd.
So you actually align your public funds with decisions that are made by the crowd.
And in that sense, it’s an interesting tool for public governments to make alliances with the public in deciding where to invest public money in cultural sphere. It also creates much more engagement of communities in the projects that they have supported. And where matchfunding has originated from is really more at a local level, regional level, where, for instance, there is a goal by public authorities to actually propose different projects that are for the benefit of a specific area, specific city.
And then when different projects are being proposed, they are open to the crowd, or they are presented to the crowd. And the crowd can then decide, of all these projects, what do I think is the best for my region, for my neighbourhood, fitting those specific objectives? And then by expressing their choices though the matchfunding actually, the public governments then decides to follow that decision in their funding. So the governments set the framework and makes the goal for specific projects that they are looking for that have specific criteria.
But then it’s up to the crowd to decide, within those frameworks, these are the things, within that framework, we like most and that we think are most valuable for our city or us as a community. And so in that sense, the matchfunding instrument is a very interesting element. In addition to traditional grants, because I would not say that one should streamline completely to totality of cultural budgets through matchfunding systems, but it’s an interesting, again, enrichment of financing culture in a region.

Listen to this interview, where Isabelle de Voldere, from IDEA Consult, answers the question: “What is matchfunding, and how do public organisations use it?”

Share your opinion!

Isabelle de Voldere argues that matchfunding (when crowdfunding is matched with other sources of funding) is a combination between a top-down approach (like in traditional cultural policy) and a bottom-up approach (the crowd decides what to fund). Do you think it is a good way to involve the community in the funding of culture? Would you like your municipality of region to develop cultural projects through matchfunding?

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