You want to fund a research project but you don’t have the necessary funds. Traditional grants are an option, but they are competitive and there is not enough funding to support every project that could be impactful and important. Luckily, there is another new option: crowdfunding. Read on to learn how to get started with this approach to raising capital.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a way of raising money for a specific project. The funds come from individual contributions from donors, who can be friends, family, customers, and individual investors. The goal is to collect funds from a large number of individuals to reach the necessary amount of funds. This type of fundraising takes place primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.
Why use crowdfunding to fund research work
Until recently, Academia has widely avoided the start-up culture of fundraising and instead has stuck to the traditional method where a lot of people apply for the same public and private grants with some getting the funds and some not. However, in today’s digitally connected world it is time for more researchers to try non traditional methods of fundraising. We are facing major problems in our world and the solutions should not be held back because the few who control the majority of the funds do not believe in a project. Crowdfunding is a solution to this problem and puts the power in the people’s hands to get projects funded.
Getting started with crowdfunding
To begin, you will need to set a goal for your campaign. The majority of research based fundraising campaigns ask for funds to cover things such as travel, lab costs, equipment, and fees for publication and conferences. Be realistic in your goal setting, this process will not be fruitful if you meet your goal but still do not have enough funding to carry out your project.
Next you will need to list your project on a crowdfunding platform. There are many different options and we provide several examples in the next section of this article. Be descriptive in your posting and explain why you need the money and what it will be used for. Attempt to write in a tone that will appeal not only to a scientific audience, but also to the general public. This can be achieved by avoiding jargon and by using storytelling elements.
Now that your campaign is live, it is time for the donations to start coming in. Studies have found that campaigns that actively seek contributors are much more successful than those that do not. There are many ways to do this, you can post testimonials from colleagues to build your legitimacy and also post your interesting lab notes to catch potential contributors interest. You can offer non monetary rewards such as a visit to your lab and once funded you can post updates of your project to keep contributors engaged. Finally, reach out to your own network via social media and email and ask them to contribute. You may be surprised by how much of your funding comes from people you already know.
Crowdfunding Platforms for Science Research
Experiment is a platform for funding scientific discoveries. As their mission states, “If it helps unlock new knowledge, then we can fund it.” All projects on this platform are carefully reviewed and scientifically approved before they are posted. Additionally, funded projects are required to provide contributors with updates as their project progresses. So far, there have been 20 published papers in scientific journals through funded experiments on the platform. Like many other platforms, if a project does not reach its goal none of the contributors are charged. Experiment.com charges an 8% platform fee plus 3-5% in payment processing fees.
This is a platform that is specifically for medical research projects. A great feature of Consano is that 100% of contributions go directly to the project with the exception of the 2.5% Paypal processing fee. Additionally, the projects are very well vetted which gives contributors comfort. All projects are either from well-published researchers, intra-university seed money competition winners, previously funded projects, or unfunded but promising projects that fell just below the National Cancer Institute payline. If your project meets this criteria then this may serve as the perfect platform.
MedStartr is more than just a crowdfunding platform, if they select your project, they apply the full Crowdfunding Optimization model, a package of marketing, PR, strategic, investor relations, and partnership development services. As a result, their current funding success rate is 62%, about six times the industry average for healthcare projects. Thus far, their clients have raised over 6 million dollars, online and off, and have started over 50 partnerships. Fees on the platform range from 8-11% of the money raised depending on the specifics of your project.
Kickstarter is probably the most well known crowdfunding platform and is not specific to research based projects. Due to its popularity, it may be a good option if you need your project to reach a broad audience. Kickstarter is also a certified B corporation that is committed to leaving a positive impact on the world. Kickstarter charges a 5% fee and there are also PayPal fees associated with payment processing.
“FundRazr is an award-winning online fundraising platform that has helped thousands of people and organizations raise money for causes they care about.” While not research specific, this platform seeks to be as affordable and user-friendly as possible which could still make it a great option for your project. They offer free and premium packages, both charge the standard credit card fees, but only the premium option charges a 5% platform fee in exchange for advanced features.
We hope this article inspires you to try crowdfunding for your next research project if traditional methods are not working for you. Then, after your project gets started, check out Conseris, the data collection app designed for researchers. Learn more.