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Crowdfunding – revealing preferences for environmental goods

Ulrich J. Frey (German Aerospace Center, Stuttgart, Germany)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 30 August 2018

Issue publication date: 6 March 2019



A major problem in environmental economics is to estimate the monetary value of non-market goods. This is especially relevant for environmental goods. To assess their non-use value, different approaches have been used measuring stated and revealed preferences. However, both methodologies are associated with criticism. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new method to estimate non-use values of environmental goods, i.e., to calculate revealed preferences in crowdfunded projects.


Since millions of individuals invest in various crowdfunded projects, the willingness to pay (WTP) can be robustly derived for any kind of project. Here, data on 19 projects on three endangered species are collected from various crowdfunding platforms.


With the new method introduced to estimate the monetary value of non-market goods, the WTP could be determined for a number of projects. Across projects, the average WTP per person is $42 for dolphins, $45 for falcons and $38 for butterflies. This new approach is validated by comparing these values to a meta-analysis of contingent valuation studies reporting on average $42 for dolphins, $37 for falcons and $24 for butterflies.

Research limitations/implications

The limitation of this study is the small number of projects which are for demonstration only.

Practical implications

Validating this method by a comparison with a meta-analysis of contingent valuation shows that estimating WTP via crowdfunding may serve as a new instrument. Given the large number of subjects and diversity of projects in crowdfunding, a robust WTP could be derived for many topics in the future.


A new method to estimate the monetary value of non-market goods is introduced. Estimating the WTP via crowdfunded projects makes it possible to measure revealed preferences for a large variety of environmental and other projects.



Frey, U.J. (2019), "Crowdfunding – revealing preferences for environmental goods", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 538-556.



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