Anatomy of a crowdfund, week 5: content or connection?
As of this writing, we’ve raised $15,040, or 61% of our goal of $25,000! Fortunately, our campaign was extended by one week because Superstorm Sandy took us off the grid for most of Week 4. That leaves us 10 days left to raise $9,960.
Week 5 of Crowdsourcing Discovery spanned the tail end of my northern CA trip and the 5-day breather back home in NYC before my trans-Atlantic campaign swing. Why the UK?
Above is geographic data from Google Analytics, a heat map showing the number of unique visitors from across Europe to my lab website between October 4th and November 6th. In other words, from the day we launched our campaign to a few days before I flew to London to attend the annual SpotOn conference series, at which I was scheduled to be a panelist in three awesome policy sessions: a session on crowdfunding, a session on the future of scholarly publishing, and a session entitled “What do you need to start a revolution?” Thanks to the miracle of technology, you can even watch archived video footage of each session on YouTube!
We started out week 5 with the 50% mark in our sights, and we ended the week just north of the halfway point. In concrete terms, in just over a month of online and IRL (“in real life”) campaigning, we received the support of 191 contributors from North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand, demonstrating that our message has international appeal.
As I’ve done since my initial comparisons between previously successfully crowdfunded science projects on RocketHub and our campaign, here’s our donor distribution through week 5:
The ratio of $25 donors to $100 donors appears to be settling out at 2.5:1. I’m still a bit surprised at the dearth of $10 donations. Perhaps the 3D meth is really raising the floor to $25?
The average contribution = $67 and the median contribution = $25. Per usual, here’s the daily breakdown:
As I stated above, our campaign had close to 200 supporters by the end of week 5. Nearly 1/3 of our supporters are friends in my Facebook network, a number large enough that allows us to look for patterns of how these 60+ people are distributed across my FB network. One hypothesis is that my most connected friends are more likely to be contributors than friends who are less connected.
Sam Arbesman blogged about us again on Monday of this week, and he included a preliminary version of the figure I’m about to show you here, which is an up-to-date version of my Facebook network that shows who among my friends has donated:
In yellow are donors, and everyone else is labeled blue. The size of each node reflects its degree, which is the number of other people he/she is connected to in my network. For example, someone with degree 1 is connected to a single mutual friend. Someone with degree 55, which qualifies as a hub, is connected to 55 mutual friends.
So what’s the pattern? Well, I think the pattern is that there is no pattern (yet). The donors appear to be randomly distributed in two different ways. First, there doesn’t seem to be a relationship between donating and membership in a specific cluster. To see what I mean by cluster, take a look at the same exact network but with colors corresponding to different clusters (modularity classes, in graph theory parlance):
There seem to be donors in each of the major clusters, some of which I’ve named. I might have thought, for example, that all of my Princeton/postdoc cluster (green) would be chalk full of donors as we share not only friendship ties but also professional ties and a mutual love of science. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, suggesting that content may trump connection.
The second interesting feature of the apparent random distribution of donors across my FB network is that there doesn’t seem to be a relationship between donation size and degree:
With the exception of my hubs (degree > 40), there is no significant difference between the means of the the donor-level distributions, which is interesting because I might have thought that donors belonging to the champagne and Lexus demographics would be heavily invested in me and therefore in my creative endeavors as well. Instead, I think the simpler explanation may be that cash flow drives the variance in how much donors contribute, rather than something more complicated like network position.
The week 6, or penultimate, digest will be all about SpotOn and my London tour. Also, I’ll look more carefully at conversion rate, which I think will tell me which aspects of marketing worked and which didn’t..
For a summary of week 4, please go here.
For the summary of week 3, please go here.
For the summary of week 2, please go here.
For the summary of week 1, please go here.
And for the summary of the first 96 hours, please go here.