Projects and Publications

This project is wrapping up in early 2023. Following on from our introduction pages, this page provides more detail on the different projects being explored within the overall research topic of crowdfunding and care, and any (public or academic) outputs related to them.


Crowdfunding for medical transition services in Aotearoa
This research explores how transgender and gender diverse people in New Zealand use crowdfunding to fundraise for medical transition services, considering how these services are structured, alongside the experiences, challenges, and possibilities of the crowdfunding process.

Type 1 Diabetes and funding for Continuous Glucose Monitors
This research is focused on the experiences of families in New Zealand, in fundraising for Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) for children; considering the funding context, and the impact on family life that CGMs have, along with public understandings of Diabetes. z

– Wardell, S. (2022). “Meet Aotearoa’s Cyborg Kids”. The Spinoff, Jan 18th. [Open access via link]
– Wardell, S & Starling, L. (2022). Technical report: Experiences of fundraising for and using CGMs, among families of children with Type 1 Diabetes, in Aotearoa New Zealand. University of Otago.

COVID-19 and crowdfunding
This project responded to the New Zealand 2020 pandemic lockdown, by examining medical crowdfunding campaigns as sites of self-reporting on the (social, economic, psychological, and physical) effects of the country’s lockdown restrictions – which included sudden and significant changes to healthcare delivery – on people who were ill prior to the lockdown, or became ill during it. This is summarised in our technical report. In a forthcoming article, we also use a lens of biopolitics and subjectivity to explore what strategies they used to market their own (non-COVID-related) needs amidst a pandemic.

– Wardell, S. (2021). “To wish you well: The biopolitical subjectivities of medical crowdfunders during and after Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown”. BioSocieties. [Open access via link]

– Starling, L. & Wardell, S. (2020). “Red flag waving: Medical crowdfunding trends show the precarity of kiwis in Australia is not just a Covid-19 issue”. In(corrigibly) Plural – Social Anthropology blog. October 22nd.   [Open access via link]

– Robinson, E., Wardell, S. (2020). Technical Report: Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the healthcare experiences of medical crowdfunders in Aotearoa New Zealand. University of Otago. [Open access via link]

A quantitative snapshot of crowdfunding in New Zealand
This early phase of our research produced a broad snapshot of the patterns of medical crowdfunding in New Zealand; focusing on who was fundraising for what. This responded to a lack of nationally specific research, to establish data which could be compared to data on crowdfunding in North America, Canada, and the UK. In June 2020 we coded 574 campaigns run by private citizens on Givealittle and GoFundMe, and generated descriptive statistics as well as an analysis of variables predictive of financial success. A summary of some findings appeared int he following media article:

– Wardell, S. (2020). “The uncomfortable truth about medical crowdfunding in New Zealand.” The Spinoff. September 16th. [Open access via link]

Crowdfunding and marketised care in Aotearoa New Zealand
We have collaborated with postgraduate and staff researchers at the University of Auckland, to discuss marketisation of care and the labour of campaigning, in the following recent articles.

– Baker, T., Bartos, A.E., Neuwelt-Kearns, C., Calder-Dawe, O., Wardell, S. (2021). “How crowdfunding campaigners market illness to capture the attention of potential donors”. The Conversation. April 28th. [Open access via link]

– Neuwelt-Kearns, C., Baker, T., Calder-Dawn, O., Bartos, A.E., Wardell, S. (2021). Getting the crowd to care: Marketing illness through health-related crowdfunding in Aotearoa New Zealand. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space: Special Issue. [Open access via link]


Crowdfunding and Online Care after the Christchurch Mosque Attacks
This research considered the outpouring of online support for the Muslim community, after the terrorist attacks of March 15th 2019. It analysed comments left by donors on the viral crowdfunding campaign (run by Victim Support) as well as engaging in a series of (19x) phenomenological interviews about experiences and actions online, with several articles about this forthcoming or in preparation.

– Wardell, S. (2019). “They are us: Practices of care in digital environments after the Christchurch mosque attack”. ASAA/NZ blog.   [Open access via link]

The Baby Leo Story: disability, citizenship, and care
This research project analysed Facebook comments on a viral crowdfunding campaign in 2015, for a baby with Down Syndrome, born in Armenia to an Armenian mother and a Kiwi father who subsequently fundraised for his return to and care in New Zealand.

– Wardell, S., Fitzgerald, R.P. (2021). Dialogical Sense-Making in the (Digital) Public Sphere: Citizenship, Care, and Disability. Sites, 18(1).  [Forthcoming]

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