Introducing the Research

Lead Researcher

This research is led by Dr Susan Wardell, a medical/social anthropologist based at the University of Otago. More information on Dr Wardell and the other contributors, is available on our introducing the team page.

The Topic

Donation-based crowdfunding is a widespread online phenomenon, and campaigns for medical or health-related expenses are the common type of campaign.

These campaigns can have high-stakes for many people facing difficult times (such as illness, accident, or disability), while also affecting friends, family, and strangers who interact with stories of need online and must chose how to respond.

There is only a small amount of research on donation-based crowdfunding, but it is clear this can reveal a lot about healthcare inequalities and the political contexts of healthcare, as well as the social values that shape charitable giving.

Research Goals

Our research seeks to bring together the experiences of campaign organisers, funds recipients, and audiences/donors, in order to develop understandings of the relational, moral, and emotional aspects of crowdfunding. It aims to provide insights specific to the cultural, economic, and political settings of Aotearoa New Zealand.

More information on the different components of the study, including those we are currently seeking participants for, can be found on our Projects and Outputs page.

Organisations and Funding

The current research is funded by a Marsden Fast-Start Grant (administered by the Royal Society – Te Apārangi): Grant title “Online Medical Crowdfunding in New Zealand: Illness, giving, and moral emotion” (2020-2023, PI Susan Wardell).

Aspects of the study incorporate findings from previous research at the University of Otago (project title “They are Us: Practices of care in digital environments, after the Christchurch mosque attacks” 2019-2021, PI Susan Wardell).

Ethics and Consultation

All parts of this research have received approval from the University of Otago’s Human Research Ethics Committee; reference numbers 19/00 and 20/028.

All have also undergone consultation with Otago’s Ngai Tahu Research Consultation Committee.

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