Funding Historypin

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Since the launch of Historypin in New York in July this year, we’ve been blown away by people’s response to it.

Everything about the project, from visits to the site, to institutional partners coming on board, to the impact of our local projects, has surpassed our expectations. All of this has made the team realise that we’re just scratching the surface of how quickly the Historypin community can grow and what it can achieve.

Behind all this growth is the killer question (and one that we get asked everywhere we go) – how is Historypin funded?

The full answer needs around 10,000 words and lots of diagrams, all of which is contained in our bigger planning document (e-mail me at if you’d like a copy of the public version).

The short answer is that Historypin, as a non-commercial project run by a non-profit organisation, Shift (formerly We Are What We Do), has to be more entrepreneurial, rather than less.

Despite the interest, we will never take on venture capital investment and, despite the need for lots of sustainable income to cover growing costs, we’ll never sell advertising or put up a pay-wall.

What we will do is combine, on the one hand, traditional philanthropy and programme funding from Trusts and Foundations, with service delivery and product development for partners and users on the other. Through this, we aim to piece together a model that protects our core social aims and values while allowing the Historypin community to flourish, with more tools and features, better usability, more local projects, more work with schools and more support for institutions.