Funding Resources Needed for Successful Participatory Engagement Projects

The following describes potential funding sources for the three major phases of participatory engagement digital humanities projects (planning, implementation and sustainability.)

A major source of support for participatory engagement projects are in-kind and cost-sharing contributions of an institution whose mission encompasses the goals of the project. Institutions can provide staff, overhead, technology infrastructure and the support for planning, piloting and proof of concept stages. On the downside, institutional support ties a project to that institution, which can cause problems if key staff shift to other institutions, or if institutional priorities change.

Traditional foundation support focusing on the humanities offers the advantages of supporting professional advancement of project staff while also advancing the field of humanities.  Sometimes these long-standing foundations agencies do not understand the needs of nor readily fund participatory engagement projects, although this can be expected to change as more and more such projects are undertaken.  Foundations generally support implementation projects and, sometimes, planning projects but generally do not support sustainability.

Science and technology funders (SFI, NSF) generally offer significantly larger awards, but prioritize technology aspects over humanities goals, and generally only fund implementation phases of a project.

Local organizations interested in the content of a project can be good funding sources, and their involvement is usually very relevant to the project itself and can help build support, engagement and audience although awards are usually not very large.

In the EU, large-scale funding from, for instance, H2020, provides multi-year support and prestige and professional advancement for project staff. However the application process is extensive and time-consuming and awards are few. These awards, too, fund implementation but not planning or sustainability.

Finally, individual donors, sometime through crowd-funding, can help support projects, including the sustainability phases, which can be very helpful although accountability to one or more individual donors can present challenges if donors have goals or agenda that is not the same as project developers.

A successful, sustainable project will likely need to draw from several of these sources.

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