Last year, the Delaware Historical Society celebrated its 150th anniversary. The nonprofit recently enlisted the services of crowdfunding platform Razoo to help raise the funds needed to conserve two battle-torn Civil War-era flags.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Titled “Rally Round the Flags,” the six-month campaign garnered over $30,000. Though the campaign as a whole was supplemented by press releases and paper flyers, the Society said the crowdfunding segment was responsible for raising $3,600 from 80 contributors.
"Our technology expertise is eclectic. It was a tremendous learning experience for us."
“This was new territory to the organization, but we did our homework,” said president Scott Loehr. And by homework, Loehr really means homework.
No matter their degree of tech-savviness, every member of the fundraising committee was required to research nine popular crowdfunding platforms, study their respective fee structures, decide on the most compatible option and report their findings. Razoo seemed the best fit for the organization’s preferences.
“This was probably much unlike the actual war campaign,” said advancement officer Trudy Hansen. “But it was a campaign we all got very excited about in-house.”
A generous portion of that excitement stemmed from the history of the artifacts themselves.
The two tattered flags were carried by flagbearers in Delaware’s 1st Volunteer Infantry, a unit that fought in two of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War — Gettysburg and Antietam.
Dr. Connie Cooper, the organization’s chief curator, explained the importance of flags before 20th century technological advances changed the face of warfare. The flag, she said, used to be armies’ chief means of communication.
“The flag was essential,” she said. “In any battle, there would be different units and regiments in different places. Soldiers need to be able to see those flags to find out where they needed to be.”
Thus, flagbearers were quite possibly the most important soldiers on the field of battle. They were also at the highest risk of losing their lives, which explains why the two flags are in such rough shape.
According to Cooper, the flags are currently with a conservator. In September, they’ll return home to the Society in pressure mounts, where they’ll be displayed for the public — all thanks to a little help from a crowdfunding experiment.
“Our technology expertise is eclectic,” said Hansen. “It was a tremendous learning experience for us. This will become another tool in our toolbox.”