Today I’m thinking about the Jamaican Bobsled team. I can well remember when they first left the perpetual summer of Jamaica to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics. The world sat back in amazement: there’s no snow in Jamaica, right? How did these guys even qualify? Why do they want to compete in a sport that has nothing whatsoever to do with their home country? Are they so stoned they don’t realise how ridiculous this is?!
But the athletes of the Jamaican bobsled team won over the world with their effervescent, effortless blend of sportsmanship and humour,
inspiring the classic film Cool Runnings and countless beer commercials and associated merchandise. Total legends. They proved that nothing is impossible; with a dollar and a dream, even someone who lives on a tropical island can compete in the Winter Olympics.
So here we are, a quarter of a century later, and the boys are back. The Jamaican Bobsled team is headed to Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. They still have their dreams – but the dollars have dried up. So what have they done to raise money to pay for their training and journey to the Games? Crowdfunding, that’s what!
And why not? These guys tapped in to something 25 years ago that made you remember your own dreams and feel a tiny spark of inspiration: if THEY can do the impossible, so can I.
Back then, that relationship with the public translated into lots and lots of money for Budweiser and all the various other corporations that cashed in on their popularity. But now, through crowdfunding, it means that people can give money directly to the team to support them on their mission. Instead of having to buy a tee-shirt or a branded product or a can of beer, where almost none of that money (if any at all) would actually reach the team, now supporters can really, actually, usefully help the team directly. They can buy into the dream. It’s absolutely GENIUS.
As crowdfunders with a world-wide community of diggers and supporters, DigVentures has encountered many of these same emotions and motivations within our own supporters. We believe people should have the right to support and be a part of whatever they want, archaeology included. We can’t get you into a bobsled with the Jamaicans, but we can provide an opportunity for people to share the excitement of archaeology. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to be a part of it. In increasing numbers, the answer we’ve been seeing is YES: we do want to be a part of it.
Crowdfunding is both disruptive and transformational: we love the fact that we can communicate directly with people who love archaeology, and provide opportunities for them to realise their dream of being involved. Can’t make the dig? No bother! You can still be a part of it. The more the merrier!
This is the inaugural post of our new blog series, #MondayFundDay. Because in this crazy upside-down world where so much is changing right in front of our eyes, we think about the many amazing places and projects that may not make it past the next round of cuts. That matters to all of us around the globe, because a world without culture – without archaeology – is no kind of world at all. So, let’s talk about the money. Where it comes from, what it means when the tap shuts off, and what success – and failure – really look like for archaeology and heritage projects.
In March 2014, we’re offering a Crowdfunding Masterclass to share our knowledge from the engine room of running successful campaigns. We can’t wait to help other organisations and projects disrupt, and transform, their own relationships and communities. If you work for an organisation that receives public funding and want to know how you can incorporate crowdfunding in your model, or you have a crowdfunding idea but don’t know where to start, or you’re ready to launch but want to double-check your idea with practical advice – come join us for the weekend. Vive la revolution!
In the meantime, stay #coolrunnings!
DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!