Can We Say Crowdfunding Bubble? U.K. Charity Launches Directory To Help Navigate Nation’s 30+ Local Platforms

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How many crowdfunding platforms is evidence of a crowdfunding bubble? Well, when an organisation feels the need to launch a directory to list and detail all of the crowdfunding options in a single market it’s perhaps a sign that exuberance for crowdsourced financing is running a little high. Nesta, a U.K. charity focused on promoting national innovation, has launched just such a directory, detailing the U.K.’s crowdfunding landscape — and all, by its count, 31 current crowdfunding platforms up and running and begging for money on your behalf.

The CrowdingIn directory certainly looks like a useful resource if you’re trying to figure out how best to get your next project funded, with the ability to filter by model and sector/area of interest. So, for example, if you’re looking for an equity investment model in the arts-creative sector then using the directory quickly narrows down those 31 platforms to just one. Or if you’re looking for a donation model in the same sector you’ll find there are four options to choose from. The rewards model is generally more populous, with two pages of results to sift through. But as a signposting service it’s still doing some useful legwork.

The directory also summarises what each crowdfunding platform offers, details their conditions of use and links through to each website. Add to that, Nesta has put together a crowdfunding how-to guide. So far, so handy. But at the same time, 31 crowdfunding platforms does feel like an awful lot of local players for a single market. Consolidation feels inevitably and probably necessary. Or, as my colleague Steve O’Hear jokily puts it, how many crowdfunding platforms does it take to get a lightbulb funded? Not 31 surely…

Of course there is variation in the crowdfunding platform offerings, with levels of specialism — including some very niche offerings, such as SolarSchools: a platform for U.K. schools to raise money to buy solar panels to fund clean energy. That’s not the place to go to fund your next great business idea, clearly. But there is also still plenty of crossover, especially for the rewards model in creative sectors — which is really where the whole crowdfunding phenomenon kicked off.

Also worth flagging that the UK Crowdfunding Association, a self-regulating trade body for the sector, counts about half the number listed on Nesta’s directory among its membership — so there may be some useful cross-referencing to be done there. The Association does also include some platforms that aren’t apparently on Nesta’s list. So, depending on how you count it, the U.K. appears to have (even) more than 31 crowdfunding platforms…