DFA on skype with chyrsler sponsor.

Crowdfunding, or the request of resources online from a distributed crowd, is changing the way innovation happens, allowing people to collaborate and access resources in ways that they couldn’t do alone. Despite the proliferation and increasing use of crowdfunding, we lack a theory of its use in the context of innovation.   The aim of this research project is to develop a theory of crowdfunding in the context of design and innovation to inform the design of tools to radically enhance our capability to innovate.

Initial field work finds that crowdfunding is not merely a community based on the exchange of funds, but rather plays a more integral role in the innovation process. People are motivated to participate for reasons relating to the self (want control, are curious) and reasons related to the social (expand reputation of work, get feedback and support).  People are deterred from participation because they fear failing publicly and supporters don’t trust what people will do with their resources. Further, the work required to prepare and run a crowdfunding campaign is also demanding and people lack the time and skills to execute effectively.


Liz Gerber, Northwestern
Michael Greenberg, Northwestern
Julie Hui, Northwestern
Emily Harburg, Northwestern


Crowdfunding: Motivations and Deterrents for Participation TOCHI 2014

Elizabeth Gerber, Julie Hui

Understanding the Role of Community in Crowdfunding Work CSCW 2014

Julie Hui, Michael Greenberg, Elizabeth Gerber