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Wouldn’t it be fun to review detailed proposals about new genealogy projects and be able to provide funding to support those projects that you think are especially worthwhile?
Crowdfunding might be one way to do just that. For those not familiar with “crowdfunding,” it is essentially a way for people to contribute a varying degree of money to a project they are interested in, usually in exchange for a special perk. Wikipedia describes crowdfunding as:
Crowd funding or crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research.
Some of the more popular crowdfunding platforms already in existence are Kickstarter and indiegogo, among many others. One of the advantages of crowdfunding is that contributions can be as low as $5 or as high as you want to contribute.
Rewards for contributing would be priority in receiving the results of the research, an advance copy of a funded documentary, free access to scanned records, and so on.
Here are just a few examples I came up with for projects that might be suitable for genealogy crowdfunding:
- Example 1 – A documentary about the War of 1812
For this project, the filmmakers might propose a documentary about Upstate New York in the War of 1812, including the towns of Oswego, Sackets Harbor, and Plattsburgh, NY. The film might look at the lives of everyday citizens as they struggle through the war years, and could follow the stories of the war in this region (like “The Battle of Big Sandy and the Carrying of the Great Rope in 1814“). This project might be of interest to people who live in these regions, or had ancestors in this region, including ancestors who fought or otherwise participated in the War of 1812 and may have been at these battles.
Funders could receive advance access to copies of the film, free copies of the film, special recognition in the credits, and so on.
- Example 2 – Research an early New England colonial family
For a project such as this one, a researcher or group of researchers would propose researching a particular family or individual from the colonial period. The researcher(s) could briefly summarize the known facts and conclusions, and then set forth any hypotheses or goals they’d like to accomplish with the funding, such as identifying three generations of descendants, or finding a female surname, or uncovering the day-to-day facts of a certain key family.
One advantage of this project is that most early colonial families have hundreds of thousands of descendants and thus a large pool of genealogists who might be interested in funding the project.
As a reward for funding this project all funders might receive, for example, a free report of the research along with all discovered primary records, and/or special recognition in any publication that results from the project.
- Example 3 – The Colonial DNA Project
The Colonial DNA Project might seek to test descendants of colonials to identify shared DNA (autosomal, Y-DNA, and/or mtDNA). For example, it could be descendants of a particular family, or a town, or a region. A particularly ambitious project would be – as just one example – to characterize the Y-DNA and mtDNA profile of every individual living in Hebron in 1725.
Funders could receive advance or free access to research, results, summaries, and so on.
- Example 4 – Scan a historical society’s newspaper collection from the 1800s
For this project, a historical society might propose scanning their entire 1800s newspaper collection, which is currently degrading in the basement, into an electronic database. This project might be particularly relevant to genealogists who have ancestors from that town or county in the 1800s, and would like to see these records.
People who helped fund the project might receive advance access to the database as the records are being scanned, or could receive free access to the database instead of paying a fee.
What are some other ideas or projects you would support?
Let’s Try It!
I’m interested in trying a project like one of the above on an existing crowdfunding platform such as indiegogo. Do you have any proposals you’ve been kicking around? Are you interested in giving this crowdfunding idea a shot?
If I received a suitable, affordable, and intriguing proposal that I thought the genealogy community could really get behind as a “kick start” for this concept, I would gladly promote that project here on my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and at presentations, for example. And I’d also be happy to contribute to the funding of that project!