Rodrigo Davies


Civic crowdfunding + communities + technology + media

A Timeline of Crowdfunding Since 2000

06 Nov 2013

On Monday I gave a talk to MIT’s New Economy Group titled “Crowdfunding, Community Assets and the New Economy”. One of the first things I presented, by way of context, was this timeline.

It’s not meant to be an exhaustive collection of events, but here are a few things I found most interesting and worthwhile to include.

Donors Choose was arguably the first civic crowdfunding platform, although it has never referred to itself in those terms. It took DC ten years to become entirely self-financing.

Music was an experimental test-bed for crowdfunding. Its first movers, ArtistShare and SellABand, started in 2003 and 2006 and experimented with models such as subscriptions and revenue sharing, but neither ultimately adopted what has become the dominant pricing model (see below).

A market for payments matters. There’s an obvious link between the rise of a more competitive online payment platforms market after 2007 and the growth of crowdfunding as an industry, since all crowdfunding sites depend on them to operate. That market has supported the great convergence in the pricing model of crowdfunding sites, to something resembling 4-5% platform fees and 4-5% payment processing fees.

The critical mass of civic crowdfunding platforms is very new, with 2013 being the first complete year for many. It has been just over five years since the arrival of change.org and Avaaz, two platforms that have been instrumental in the growth of organized digital civic action.

$1M+ crowdfunding projects have only been a reality since February 2012. I’ll be writing more about the phenomenon of big money crowdfunding campaigns soon.

The rest of my slides are here, video to follow.

(cross-posted at civic.mit.edu)