Crowdfunding for a conservation project

The National Museum of the Royal Navy shares its tips
Allison Dufosee
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HMS M.33 is a unique survivor. Launched in May 1915, this vessel is the sole remaining British veteran of that year’s Gallipoli campaign, and also of the Russian civil war that followed.

Only three British warships from the first world war still exist and HMS M.33 will be the only one open to the public on 6 August, in the year of the Gallipoli centenary.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth used crowdfunding for the first time to raise funds for the completion of the conservation of HMS M.33. This campaign also helped us promote and expose the project to new audiences.

After researching different crowdfunding platforms, we opted for Indiegogo as it has a flexible funding plan, which allows you to receive the raised funds even if the target is not reached. The next step to create rewards (which are offered to donors in exchange for their support) that would appeal to our audience.

These included an e-certificate (£5 donation); a limited-edition postcard of M33 by a Portsmouth-based photographer plus entry tickets to M33 and an e-certificate (£100); and a private behind-the-scene tour of the M33 and an exclusive preview of the Gallipoli exhibition with a talk (£3,000).

The most popular reward was an entry ticket to M33 (plus an e-certificate) for a £25 donation.

The campaign was featured widely in our e-newsletters and on our social media pages (particularly Facebook and Twitter). We also produced a dedicated YouTube film presented by our community engagement colleague. We had established good relationships with Australian-based media and they were able to feature details of the campaign in their coverage.

The initial response from supporters all over the world was positive. Over four weeks, 306 people contributed with an average donation of £30. In total we raised £9.236 – just under 50% of our £19,150 target.  

We can now treat this campaign as a pilot for future crowdfunding projects and explore the opportunities and benefits coming from this type of fundraising.

We will look how to adjust our perks to make them even more appealing to the audience and we will try to find more creative ways to keep the momentum going through the entire campaign period, which has proven to be quite challenging.

Crowdfunding tips:

  • Make your campaign relevant to your community.
  • Think of your audience when deciding your perks. What will they be interested in and how much will they pay for it.
  • £25 donations were the most popular but £100 raised the most money and made up nearly 30% of total funds raised.
  • Try to keep the momentum going. Your campaign should be long enough that you have time to build interest and reach your audience, but not so long that it becomes background noise. Establish milestones with creative content.
  • Ensure that all channels to give are available, particularly for those less confident with online giving.

Allison Dufosee is a fundraising consultant at the National Museum of the Royal Navy


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