Looks like archaeologists are promoting crowdfunding after all


Two weeks ago, I wrote a post highlighting the dangers of soliciting other archaeologists for crowdfunding archaeology projects. I have previously stated that crowdfunding could quickly become an important means to pay for a variety of archaeology projects. I also felt it could be a good way for me to fund portions of my PhD studies. Recently, I discovered that other archaeologists have different (and valid) opinions about soliciting the “crowd” for money in order to complete their projects. Most objections revolve around the importance of learning how to successfully obtain grant money and the breach of etiquette involved with openly soliciting colleagues for money to accomplish personal career goals. Universities may also object to this method because it does not allow them to extract their portion of departmental grant money commonly earmarked as “operating costs” (i.e. cut of the action).

Despite these concerns, it appears like archaeology crowdfunding for graduate students is about to go mainstream. An article in the most recent SAA Archaeological Record (13[4]:36–39) outlines the strategy taken by one graduate student to supplement his existing grants through crowdfunding.

Using Social Networks to Fundraise: Crowdfunding for the Archaeologist” by Matthew Piscitelli (University of Illinois-Chicago) is the first article I’ve seen published in an archaeology-specific journal outlining the benefits of using crowdfunding to pay for archaeological research (If I’m wrong, please point me in the direction of other archaeology-specific articles/books/blogs that focus on archaeological crowdfunding). Piscitelli gives a summary of how he raised money to accomplish a project in Peru that will be used to complete his PhD. The article is brief and not very detailed, for instance it does not detail about how he designed and executed his pitch or how he used social media in the campaign. However, its importance is the simple fact that it was published in an international archaeology journal (the largest in the Americas). The simple attempt to solicit interested parties in order to accomplish an archaeological project was significant enough that Pischelli was interviewed on the American Anthropological Association’s podcast “Ordinary Anthropologists Doing Extraordinary Things.” (Apparently, not following the traditional funding route is enough to be considered “extraordinary”).

Anyone interested in crowdfunding portions, or all, of their graduate archaeology project should read Pischelli’s article and listen to his AAA interview. Anyone that objects to archaeology crowdfunding should be aware that this is going to become a significant portion of how projects are funded in the future, for better or worse. I can see how crowdfunding will be harnessed by local communities to take charge of heritage conservation, historic preservation, and cultural resource management in their neck of the woods. CRMers should take note.

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