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Crowdfunding as a tool to support sustainability-oriented initiatives: Preliminary insights into the role of product/service attributes


A common goal of current research seems to uncover whether crowdfunding (CF) could be considered an effective way to support sustainability-oriented initiatives in securing funding, due to diverging results emerging from literature. We claim that the objective of proving whether CF may benefit sustainability-oriented initiatives could be misplaced; rather, we deem more fruitful to understand how critical are some attributes of products/services pursued within CF campaigns to benefiting sustainability-oriented initiatives and increasing their odds of success in CF. We focus on food-related projects as in this sector, sustainability issues apply more than to any other human activities and construct a unique sample of food CF campaigns launched and ended in the European Economic Area countries on the world's most popular reward-based CF platform, that is, Kickstarter. We identify campaigns with a sustainability orientation and perform an in-depth qualitative analysis, which allows us to classify them into meaningful clusters and subclusters. Our research suggests that the emphasis on egoistic/self-centered product attributes, rather than on altruistic/society-centered attributes, is generally more crucial to facilitate CF support to sustainability-oriented projects. However, the emphasis on altruistic/society-centered attributes emerges to be more beneficial for initiatives specifically supporting local products. Our results also suggest that reward-based CF is not suitable for sustainability-oriented projects targeting disadvantaged individuals/groups. These results offer both theoretical and empirical contributions to the literature as well as practical implications.