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Crowdfunding to fetch our T-rex: A lot of coins for a lot of old bones

Guest post by Claire van Teunenbroek, 3rd year PhD student at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU University. You can read more about Claire’s research on her blog here.

Trix the T.rex: a successful Dutch crowdfunding project

A long time ago far away from Amsterdam, ‘Trix’ the Tyrannosaurus (T-rex) roamed the earth. She stood twelve meters tall, weighed five thousand kilos and had more than 50 sharp teeth of about 20 centimetres long. These days, the T-rex skeleton (lovingly dubbed “Trix,” which is a common Dutch pet name and the nickname for our previous queen) travels through Europe thanks to more than 23,000 Dutch donors. After the tour, the T-rex will be on permanent display at the Naturalis, a Dutch museum of Biodiversity.

The bones of this beautiful female T-Rex, who lived about 66 to 67 million years ago, were found in Montana, USA during an expedition in 2013.  When the cost to collect all the bones and ship them to the Netherlands proved to be too high, the museum started a charitable campaign to collect money to make their dream of displaying a complete T-rex skeleton come true.

Crowdfunding: transparent, democratic and full of rewards

Fortunately for the museum, much of the Dutch population shared their dream and were more than willing to contribute small donations to the cause.  The museum decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign and assembled 5 million Euros in mostly small donations (e.g. most donors gave 10 euros).

Online crowdfunding developed in 2006, primarily in the arts and creative-based industries.  One of the first crowdfunding platforms was the music oriented platform Sellaband, developed in the Netherlands in 2006. Crowdfunding is an increasingly applied instrument; the reward-based crowdfunding platform Voordekunst hosted 712 projects with a success rate of 81% and 40.107 donors contributed a total donation amount of €3.558.549.

piggy bank

An interesting characteristic of crowdfunding is the transparent nature of the funding tool: the solicitor provides a detailed description of how they will use the funds up front.  In the case of our T-rex, the museum had to describe where Trix would be displayed. And because crowdfunding engages more people, it could be described as more democratic than previously used door-to-door campaigns. By donating to the T-rex cause, the Dutch donors were able to validate the campaign to bring Trix to the Netherlands.

Why is the transparency of crowdfunding important?

Worldwide, donors are more critical and conscious about the effect of their donation and expect non-profits to be more open both before and after receiving the donation.   Non-profits that are more transparent about how the funding will be used to have an impact attract more donors.  Moreover, are increasingly involving their donors in conversations and letting the donors take leadership in deciding which projects to start.

Why is the democratic factor in crowdfunding important?

Maintaining transparency after a donation is made is just as important, reflecting a shift from the donor as ‘giver’ towards ‘contributor.’ More than ever, individuals want to do more than opening their wallets, they want to be included and expect some form of a lasting relationship after the donation is made that allows the donor to observe the lasting impact of their donation.

 Crowdfunding for the cultural sector in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, it is not uncommon or new for the cultural sector to turn towards philanthropy as a method of financial survival. Financial aid in the form of donations for the cultural sector can be traced back as far as the Golden Age, when a group called the Maecenas started to financially support cultural institutions and individual artists.

After the financial crisis of 2008, the Dutch economy faced important challenges. First, the government was forced to decrease spending, which especially impacted the cultural sector, which had been heavily dependent on government subsidies.

cultural sector

However, the increasing pressure on philanthropic sources might not be ideal for the cultural sector. Most Dutch individuals (93%) judge the cultural sector as an unimportant goal for the general public. Not surprisingly, the cultural sector receives few donations (12% of the Dutch households donate to cultural projects). In an attempt to fill the financial gap, the government has encouraged an increased support from the third sector. For example, to stimulate donations to cultural projects, the Dutch government multiplied donations made to cultural institutions. However, this strategy did not result in more donations.

Crowdfunding as the next step?

Crowdfunding will not solve all the funding problems of the third sector, but this new funding tool could help to increase the reach of charitable organizations.  I think that crowdfunding is a logical next step for the non-profit sector as government support decreases because crowdfunding is a relatively cheap method for reaching a large crowd. Also, it might attract new donors who are more critically about the return on their investment and are concerned about impact and transparency.   More practically, crowdfunding connects with the current lifestyle of donors who spend daily time online.

Still, the impact of crowdfunding in charity is relatively small; in 2011 only 9% per cent of the Dutch population contributed online to charity organizations. Amounts raised through crowdfunding increase, but they account for less than 1% of giving in the Netherlands.

Trix will be on display at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris during the ISTR Conference (she is currently in Barcelona), but we hope you will come back and visit in 2019 when the museum reopens.

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Advertise and Exhibit at the ISTR Conference

Exhibit and advertise at our upcoming conference! Engage with 800+ leading nonprofit, civil society, and philanthropy scholars from all parts of the world – to promote your products and services and expand your networks.

Print and mobile device ads

Advertise in the printed conference program and on the conference app to make sure your colleagues know about your academic program, recent publications, scholars, services, and share announcements.  All participants will receive a copy of the printed program and will be able to download the app for free.  Rotating mobile device banner ads can link out to your website to provide users with more information.

Get a discount for print and app combined purchases.  It’s easy to order online. See prices on our website.

Exhibit tables

Reserve an exhibit table adjacent to our popular coffee breaks and engage continuously with attendees.

  • demonstrate publishing services
  • sell books and publications
  • promote academic centers and programs
  • Exhibitors will have their logos featured on our mobile conference app

See prices on our website.

Space is available on a first-come/first-served basis.

 

Conference planning announcements

This is the time of year when a great deal of information about the conference becomes available on our website, so be sure to check in and see what is new.  Recent developments include the following:

  1. Notifications of accepted abstracts have been sent to all submitters.  If you have not received your notification, please contact us (istr_secretariat@jhu.edu) and we can clarify the status of your abstract.
  2. The preliminary conference schedule has been posted on our website.  Take a look so that you can begin planning your arrival and departure times.
  3. Speaking of travel, ISTR has partnered up with Air France and KLM to offer you discounted airfare and blocks of hotel rooms have been secured for conference participants at several hotels in the area.  Check out our Travel and Lodging page for more information, and for details about getting around in Amsterdam.
  4. Participants from some countries will require visas, and ISTR is ready to help prepare letters in support of your application.  Become a member of ISTR, pay your conference registration fee, and then fill out the online form here and we will prepare a letter in short order.
  5. Limited registration subsidies will be available to students and members from low-income countries.  Be sure to apply by February 15 here.
  6. And finally, be sure to check in regularly with the Special Events page to learn more about workshops and special sessions being organized for the conference.

Reflecting on the PhD Seminar experience: Building a community of emerging scholars

Guest post by Christiane Rudmann, 2014 PhD Seminar participant and organizing member of the PhD Seminar Alumni Network

IMG_4657 final 2x3When I received the email that I was accepted to ISTR’s PhD Seminar in Muenster in 2014, I couldn’t believe my luck! I had already been working for 2 years on my PhD at a smaller German university that did not have a nonprofit faculty. It will hardly come as a surprise to hear that I struggled to find the “right” literature, the appropriate conceptual frameworks, or like-minded researchers to discuss and eventually advance my project. The opportunity to attend ISTR’s PhD Seminar changed all of that.

We worked in groups of about 6 PhD students with our always-encouraging faculty members, discussed everyone’s project, asked and were asked many of the critical questions. And I believe we all received valuable advice on how to best proceed, solve a problem, rethink an approach, and just get it done.

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What was striking to me is that never before had I had to chance to work with a group of fellow researchers – graduate students and senior faculty – in such a respectful, collegiate, and encouraging atmosphere. We came from many a different country and with that from, at times, very different academic backgrounds. Some PhD students had the chance to work on a daily basis with the leading scholars in the field whom others only knew from the books they were reading for their literature review, yet it was always an atmosphere of true peer support where no question was ever off limits or “too simple” to ask.

I had the chance to attend and present at a few other conferences in the field in recent years, including at ISTR in Stockholm, and have to say that, to me, ISTR provides the most welcoming and encouraging setting for researchers to come together, think critically, and leave inspired for future projects. Yet the most wonderful aspect is that some of those researchers have become some of my best friends.

 

It is in that spirit of friendship and collaborative research that we are working towards establishing the ISTR PhD Seminar Alumni Network. We hope to see many of the PhD Seminar alumni in Amsterdam and are thankful that ISTR made sure all the PhD Seminar students and alumni can stay at the same hotel for the duration of the seminar and the conference, with that, providing lots of opportunities to network and to get to know each other.

 

Our Keynote Speaker: Dr. Donatella Della Porta

We are thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker for the upcoming conference is Donatella Della Porta, professor of political science, Dean of the Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences, and Director of the PD program in Political Science and Sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, where she also leads the Center on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos).

 

Among the main topics of her research are social movements, political violence, terrorism, corruption, the police and protest policing.  She has directed a major ERC project Mobilizing for Democracy, on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, and she co-edits the European Journal of Sociology (Cambridge University Press) as well as the Contentious Politics series at Cambridge University Press.

In her keynote, Innovations from Below: Civil Society Beyond the Crisis, Dr. Della Porta’s keynote will discuss the impacts of the long financial crisis on civil society organizations, which were challenged to address social and political emergencies with declining resources. Despite these challenges, the sector experienced a resurgence of civil society organizations with a high capacity to build alternative knowledge and prefigurate social innovations. Bridging literature from social movement studies and voluntary associations, this keynote will single out new visions and practices of solidarity in the third sector.

 

Born in Catania (1956), she graduated in Political Science at the University of the same city in 1978. In 1980, she received the Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and in 1987 her PhD in Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute.

Dr. Della Porta was formerly a professor at the European University Institute and co-editor of the European Political Science Review (ECPR-Cambridge University Press).  In 2011, she was the recipient of the Mattei Dogan Prize for distinguished achievements in the field of political sociology. She is Honorary Doctor of the universities of Lausanne, Bucharest and Goteborg. She has supervised 80 PhD students and mentored about 30 post-doctoral fellows.

She is the author of 85 books, 130 journal articles and 127 contributions in edited volumes.

 

Publications pictured above are: Late Neoliberalism and its Discontents (Palgrave, 2017); Movement Parties in Times of Austerity (Polity 2017),  Where did the Revolution go? (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Social Movements in Times of Austerity (Polity 2015), Methodological practices in social movement research (Oxford University Press, 2014); Spreading Protest (ECPR Press 2014, with Alice Mattoni), Participatory Democracy in Southern Europe (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014, with Joan Font and Yves Sintomer); Mobilizing for Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014); Can Democracy be Saved?, Polity Press, 2013;  Clandestine Political Violence, Cambridge University Press, 2013 (with D. Snow, B. Klandermans and D. McAdam (eds.). Blackwell Encyclopedia on Social and Political Movements, Blackwell. 2013; Mobilizing on the Extreme Right (with M. Caiani and C. Wagemann), Oxford University Press, 2012; Meeting Democracy (ed. With D. Rucht), Cambridge University Press, 2012; The Hidden Order of Corruption (with A. Vannucci), Ashgate 2012.

Time again for ISTR’s popular PhD seminar

Being a PhD student has never been easy! Learning the ropes, networking, writing and presenting papers, attending courses and much more. For us, when we were students, it was very much learning-by-doing process, and an important source of support in this process were the fellow PhD students and senior scholars we met at conferences and seminars along the way. It is because of these positive experiences from peer support groups that we are so enthusiastic about the ISTR PhD seminars. Therefore we very much look forward to next year’s event in Amsterdam, which takes place two days prior to the ISTR conference at Vrije Universiteit.

To that event we are warmly welcoming an exciting group of around 50 PhD students from many corners of the world. They will present and discuss their projects in a friendly environment facilitated by 12 senior scholars that are all engaged in civil society issues and committed to supporting junior scholars in their endeavors.

PhD Seminar 2014

2014 PhD Seminar Students – Muenster, Germany

Previous seminars have also offered a keynote lecture as well as workshops around various topics. This has been very popular, so we will continue this appreciated tradition. In addition to the work we will do facilitating peer feedback on the students’ research, we are also planning workshops around issues such as getting published, post-doc careers abroad and work-life balance.

However, ISTR’s PhD seminar is not only about projects, workshops and professors giving speeches. It is also a tremendous opportunity where we can create a sound foundation for future civil society research by connecting with scholars from all over the world, supporting and learning from each other, meeting old and new friends and just having a lot of fun.

Pelle-Åberg2

Pelle Åberg Co-chair, ISTR PhD Seminar and Associate Professor, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Stockholm, Sweden

Foto van Ophem

Rene Bekkers
Co-chair, ISTR PhD Seminar
Professor, Director of the Center  
for Philanthropic Studies
Vrije Universiteit
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holidays in the Netherlands: “Putting the ‘fun’ in fundraising”

The holidays are coming up, which is supposed to bring out the good in people, making it a good season for fundraising campaigns. In the United States there is Giving Tuesday, the philanthropic counterpart of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In the Netherlands we have 3FM Serious Request, which by now has come to be a solid part of our holiday traditions.

Serious Request is a fundraising event organized by the 3FM radio station, in collaboration with the Red Cross. The 6 days before Christmas Eve, DJ’s from the radio station will live in a house made of glass, positioned somewhere on the main square of a city in the Netherlands. They will not eat for the entire period, and will be working 24/7 while people from all over the Netherlands come to visit them, request songs, and contribute to their cause.

serious request glass house

The 2016 edition of ‘the House of Glass’ took place in the Dutch city of Breda and raised €8,7 million for the violence against women in conflict areas program of the Red Cross.  

The goal of the event is to draw attention to, what they call, a silent disaster. The whole country mobilizes around this time of the year to come up with the most creative and jolly activities to raise money for the cause. In the past, these activities have included celebrities having a sleepover at the house with the DJ’s, individuals crocheting and selling hats, and whole schools organizing entire fundraising weeks.

This year, the DJ’s will enter the house in the city of Apeldoorn to raise funds to provide the Red Cross with the means to reunite families that have been ripped apart because of disaster or conflict.

Since the start in 2004 the amounts that have been raised have reached incredible heights, as shown in the figure below. figure graphic

Last year’s edition of Serious Request has reached almost 10 million people through the radio, TV and internet. Furthermore, the initiative has successfully spread to several countries within Europe, Africa and Asia.

 

Given that the amounts of money raised are very high, and the number of people involved are enormous (even during crisis years and in a country that lately is deeply divided on many topics). This makes you wonder; what makes this particular initiative so successful year after year?

Is it that there is a concrete goal specified? Is it that the DJs grand gesture inspires people to want to do their part? Is it actually the holiday spirit (whatever that might mean)? Or maybe it is related to the diminishing hours of sunlight, or just the drop in temperatures?

This is where science comes in; whether it is psychology, biology, economics or political science, research from all sorts of disciplines can identify some of the mechanisms working here. If we can find out what the drivers are, perhaps we could consider replicating this elsewhere.

Thanks to Vera Cuijpers, junior researcher at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU Amsterdam, for this contribution.