So how is Bellingcat funded?

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Lots of questions on how Bellingcat is funded especially from Russian Federation government and Russia Today journalists.

While I did not do research on the funding and financial situation of Bellingcat, some details are public. I like to encourage everyone to do research.

The founder of Bellingcat is Eliot Higgins. In 2017 Bellingcat has 6 full time employees.  Including Higgins these are  Christiaan, Narine, Aric, Hadi + one more. BC should also soon have an admin person and fundraising director joining by year end.

All the other authors and researchers work as volunteer.

In 2014 Bellingcat started a crowdfunding. They raised  £50,891 via Kickstarter.

Bellingcat also used crowdfunding to purchase a Digital Globe satellite photo of Donetsk in 2015.

Higgins and Toler received end of 2016 funding from Google Digital News Initiative.  The amount of money is not known publicly. The grant ends at the end of 2016.

At February 2017 Elliot Higgins on Tweeted told by whom Bellingcat is funded.

Bellingcat has received money from the following: OSF, Meedan, NED, Google, Adessium, and via crowdfunding.

In 2016 Bellingcat received an unknown amount of money from Dutch fund  Adessium (the owner is the van Vliet family, which donates money to investigative journalism.

Also Dutch PAX for Peace donated to Bellingcat.

OSF = Open Society Foundations, formerly the Open Society Institute, is an international grantmaking network founded by business magnate George Soros. Wikipedia

In May 2016 dutch Newspaper NRC reported Bellingcat cooperated with OSF for creating a website in Russia.

NED is National Endowment for Democracy a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 1,200 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.

According Higgins: “The NED money is for training Russian language journalists in verification and open source investigation”

At April 26, 2016 Higgins stated on Twitter:

Whatever you might imagine about NED and AC I’ve not received funding from NED. Stop reading conspiracy websites.

This is the announcement of NED grant at Feb 6, 2017.

around June 2017 a second Kickstarter crowdfunding was started. 1,595 backers pledged £68,557 to help bring this project to life.

In 2018, 2019 about half of the income for Bellingcat is obtained by presenting workshops all around the world.

In 2019 Bellingcat received Euro 500,000.- from the Dutch Postcodeloterij (lotery). The money will be used for a new office in The Hague.

In September 2019, Aric Toler send this Tweet:

Majority of our $ comes from workshops we run. Also get about $3k/month from our Patreon. We have a variety of other smaller funds (none of whom give more than 10-15% of our total budget), the largest of which I think is OSF.


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7 Comments on So how is Bellingcat funded?

  1. Liane Theuer // March 26, 2016 at 2:06 pm // Reply

    Higgins has a sizeable income from lectures, trainings and sales of his articles.
    Some sources in chronological order :

    May 12/2013 DER SPIEGEL :
    „ Ein Spender, der anonym bleiben möchte, hat ihm 5000 Pfund überwiesen. Auch das Politik-Netzwerk Avaaz will Higgins künftig unterstützen. (..) Sollte es ihm gelingen, 12.000 Pfund zu sammeln, will er seinen Blog außerdem ins Arabische übersetzen lassen.“
    Translation : “A donor who wishes to remain anonymous, has paid him £ 5,000. Also, the policy network Avaaz will support Higgins in future. (..) If he succeed in collecting 12,000 pounds, he also wants his blog translated into Arabic.”

    Higgins translated his blog into Arabic.

    The Telegraph March 29/2014 :
    „Last March Higgins announced on Twitter, ‘I’m about to accept a job that precludes me from blogging about Syria.’ His followers protested, and someone suggested that he hold an online fund-raiser. Higgins set a modest goal of £6,000, which would allow him to blog full time to the end of the year. Stuart Hughes of the BBC volunteered to shoot a promotional video for the fund-raiser, on the condition that Higgins give a seminar on open-source research at BBC headquarters. After a month Higgins hit his fund-raising target. (..)
    One morning in October Higgins was invited to a conference held by Google Ideas, the internal think tank of Google. The topic was Conflict in a Connected World, and Google had invited dozens of speakers for a two-day summit at a Manhattan hotel. (..) (Google had invited him to an earlier meeting in Washington, DC.) Higgins’s life was changing, and he was clearly enjoying it. (..)
    Higgins’s website is launching imminently. It is called, and a stable of about 15 contributors will write on subjects including Africa and the Middle East; they are partnering with Uncoverage, a crowd-funding site for investigative journalists

    Fundraising for Bellingcat started on July 15/2014. Two days later MH17 was shot down.

    Bellingcat August 15/2014 :
    „1,701 backers pledged £50,891 to help bring this project to life.“

  2. Liane Theuer // March 26, 2016 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    January 29/2015 :
    „… Mr Higgins, now regarded as one of the world’s foremost citizen journalists, with millions of followers from Presidents to major media organisations. (..) A Kickstarter project received more than $96,000 in donations in order to run his own website. The result is Bellingcat, billed as “by and for citizen investigative journalists”.

    Februar 17/2015 Bellingcat created this analysis in cooperation with :
    How much money Bellingcat got to be able translating his post at the same time into German and Russian ? And by whom? And who has written this post ?

    Behind is a lot of money.
    Wikipedia about Slack :
    “Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration tool co-founded by Stewart Butterfield, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov.
    The company originally raised nearly $43 million in April 2014. In October 2014, the company raised $120 million in venture capital with a $1.2 billion valuation led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures. Earlier investors Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners and The Social+Capital Partnership also participated in this round.
    In March 2015, Slack signed a deal with investors to raise up to $160 million in a funding round that values the company at $2.76 billion. New investors include Institutional Venture Partners, Horizons Ventures, Index Ventures and DST Global. In April 2015, the company raised another $160 million.“

    Financial Times February 26/2015 :
    „Journalists, intelligence officials, weapons experts, groups such as Human Rights Watch — for whom Mr Higgins has done work — all follow his blog. (..)
    Internet crowdfunding brought in an initial £11,000 to finance his activities, but he earns most of his money through consulting. After his session at the FT, he is off to The Economist and the week after to the UK Foreign Office. (..)
    With initial funding from Google, Mr Higgins will work with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.“

  3. Liane Theuer // March 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm // Reply

    Mashable March 28/2015 :
    „Brown Moses and Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins has revealed what it takes to become a citizen journalist. (..) He now works with a team of eight volunteers, and is starting to work with universities, training students as interest in open source, citizen journalism grows.“

    March 31/2015 Already the 4th lecture by Higgins there:
    News Impact Summit Hamburg
    Organised by the European Journalism Centre in cooperation with the News Lab at Google
    Workshop 4 [Verification track]: Verifying Contents from the War and Conflict Zones (Advanced)
    An advanced look at verification and analysis technique, using Google Earth and other tools.
    Speaker: Eliot Higgins, Founder of Bellingcat

    Nobody knows how much they pay him for one lecture.

    May 17/2015 :
    Thanks, we’ve also been working with the Atlantic Council on this upcoming report

    How much received Higgins for this publication for the Atlantic Council ?

    Eliot Higgins received the “Hanns–Joachim-Friedrichs-Preis 2015”. The prize is worth € 2,500.00.

    Januar 5/2016 Joost Niemöller about Bellingcat :

  4. Seymour Hersh wrote an article on the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Syria. He got critics from a certain Allison. Richard Lloyd and Ted Postol
    from Massachusetts Institute of Technology reacted:
    “Allinson is correct that the improvised rockets he calls Volcanoes each contained about fifty litres of sarin, but wrong in his claim that they were fired from a regime-held area ‘to the north’. These claims are not original, but repeat those of Eliot Higgins, a blogger who, although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges.”
    They also wrote: “We do not claim to know who was actually behind the attack of 21 August in Damascus. But we can say for sure that neither do the people who claim to have clear evidence that it was the Syrian government. The mainstream American media have done a disservice to the public by allowing politically motivated individuals, governments, and non-government organisations to misrepresent facts that clearly point to serious breaches of the truth by the White House.” Sounds familiar?

    • Sergey Tokarev // March 29, 2016 at 7:41 pm // Reply

      Now there is more info about Ghouta false flag that it was definitely a false flag. A few months ago, when opposition in Turkey still existed, secret service officers who delivered sarin to ‘moderate terrorists’ approached opposition deputies of the parliament, and deputies proposed parliament hearings. Those deputies have names, so do the officers. There weren’t any hearings of course – Turkey is becomming a tyranny fast. E.Higgins task was, as it is in MH17, to confuse people with spam, to win time.

  5. Liane Theuer // June 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm // Reply

    In this interview Eliot Higgins confirms that he is paid by Google on a regulary basis and that he is in talks with the Open Society Foundations of George Soros :

  6. A substantial and informative report. You describe the NED as a “private, nonprofit foundation”, which is indeed how it describes itself… however, as its own website goes on to say: “Funded largely by the U.S.Congress… subject to multiple layers of oversight by the US Congress, the Department of State…” A strange sort of “private”! Perhaps that’s why Eliot Higgins initially denied getting funds from them.

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