Narrative “End States” and the Dynamics of Participation in Civic Crowdfunding
The growing phenomenon of “paying to participate” is an important yet understudied aspect of crowdfunding, especially in the context of civic crowdfunding, where meaningful participation is linked to the production of public goods. In this study, we propose “end states” as a theoretical and methodological vehicle to examine how narratives of civic crowdfunding projects stimulate crowd participation and how this participation shapes the broader institutional and organizational context. We analyze narrative end states in two civic crowdfunding projects taking place in the Netherlands. The results of our analysis show three types of narrative end states: plotted, revised, and future. Initial end states were plotted to fulfill a specific need of the project initiators, however, these proved unsuccessful in mobilizing the crowd. Through an intense revision of end states, project initiators learned how to connect the crowd-community to the project, ultimately inspiring new end states for greater crowd-community participation in the future. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on narrative approaches to crowdfunding and the theory and practice of civic crowdfunding.