Art Happens crowdfunding

Captain Kris Fan
Captain Kris Fan

Art Happens is crowdfunding with a difference. Designed specifically for museums and galleries, it gives museums the power to create and manage innovative fundraising campaigns, with Art Fund support every step of the way – from making a campaign film to reaching new donors.

The platform launched in 2014 following research with NMDC. ‘From going to giving’ showed that although 93% of museum visitors give to charities, only 40% of those give to museums. And that most visitors don’t see giving to museums as charitable giving but rather as a tip for a good day out.

Since then, Art Happens has helped 42 museums to raise more than £800,000 and reach over 6,000 donors for a huge variety of projects. The platform is completely free to use, and Art Fund covers the costs of producing a film and donor rewards, meaning 100% of the funds raised go directly to making the project happen.

Crowdfunding through Art Happens is about more than just fundraising. It can help you to raise awareness of your organisation and the work you’re doing, reach new audiences, engage your existing supporters in new ways – and encourage visitors to go from going to giving.

AIM members on Art Happens

In 2017 The Fan Museum ran its first crowdfunding project through Art Happens. “A step into the unknown,” according to Curator, Jacob Moss. “The project brought 29 street artists together with a fan maker to develop a new collection of modern fans. We understand fans are niche and bespoke fans are not cheap, so this needed proper investment to ensure really high-quality outputs.”

As well as the new collection, the project was used to drive outreach initiatives and develop new audiences, according to Jacob. “We piggy-backed on the fact the Heritage Craft Association had put fan-making on an endangered craft list. And we really wanted to create a buzz. Working with Art Happens we developed smart incentive gifts, handmade reproductions, tote bags with ‘Skeleton Cardboard’ – a street artist. We also offered p masterclasses.

Great campaign images helped; they had real energy and the street artists helped with the marketing on Instagram. We raised 7% of our ask on at the launch party, which was sponsored by Waitrose, the champagne was flowing which helped! Two of us worked really hard across the 30 days, and we raised £15,000 or 108% of target.”

Jacob advises that picking the right project is critical, a view shared by Charles Fountain, Director of Nantgarw China Works – the only surviving early 19th century porcelain works in the United Kingdom.

“We’re a very small museum in South Wales on the site of the finest porcelain making in the world. In 1820 the making recipe was lost, so we worked with Art Happens to fund a R&D project to recreate what was last done over 200 years ago, making the finest porcelain. We targeted raising £15,000 in the 30-day project period and raised £16.2k with time to spare. “

“The most important thing is to approach Art Happens with a compelling idea, something that will really capture interest. ArtFund do everything possible to make your project succeed, including developing a professional video at their cost, helping you in developing a marketing plan and identify incentives that they pay for. It didn’t cost us anything but time. They have the expertise but aren’t going to do the work for you, so it’s critical to have a good idea and some sense of marketing.”

If you want to find out more about Art Happens or have a project in mind that you would like to crowdfund for, get in touch with Merrin Kalinowski, take the ‘Are you ready for crowdfunding quiz?’ or join an Art Happens webinar. or email