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A guide to the best revenue models and funding sources for your digital resources

15 Mar 2014

There are fewer barriers than ever before for those who wish to build something on the web, whether an online journal, a website with tools for teaching, or a digitised collection of rare and unique materials. Today’s builders may be individuals, institutions or social enterprises, in addition to more traditional ‘publishers’ of digital resources. Recent and growing enthusiasm among faculty and students for digital humanities suggests that this moment of digital creation and innovation is far from over. This is evidenced by the growth of workshops, The Humanities and Technology (THAT) camps 1 , the Jisc Summer of Student Innovation competition 2 and other training opportunities, as well as the movement of funders in the cultural heritage sector to support digital work.

Whether a digital project was created with a significant grant from public funds or subsidised by the hard work and volunteer effort of a devoted group of partners, whether its content is made freely available or not, there are substantial costs involved in keeping the resource up and running and delivering value to those who use it. Identifying sources for that ongoing support is not obvious or easy, as funders’ programmes often target innovation and not ongoing operations. With the support of the Jisc - led Strategic Content Allian ce (SCA), Ithaka S+R has developed this guide to support those who are actively managing digital projects and are seeking to develop funding models that will permit them to continue investing in their projects, for the benefit of their users, over time.

This report updates Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources (2008) in two major ways: first, by expanding the list of revenue models covered in order to take into account emerging models, including highlighting those methods that are compatible with open access. Second, the report places the notion of ‘revenue gen eration’ in the context of the fuller range of funding activities we have observed in higher education and the cultural sector. In addition to practices more often seen in the commercial world like advertising and corporate sponsorships, the report devotes time to discussions of a range of philanthropic sources of support as well as support offered by host institutions.

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