Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way to garner support for all types of fundraising efforts, including academic research. Not only does crowdfunding expand your funding options beyond scarce school resources and competitive grants, it also typically increases the visibility of your research, which can lead to additional support. Creating a crowdsourcing platform for your research study can facilitate connections with established researchers in your field and attract interested volunteers to assist you with your research.
Through crowdfunding, researchers can also increase community participation in their research, not only through donations and gift giving, but also by providing the public with a learning experience. Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) have connected with the public through their crowdsourcing efforts via an innovative partnership with chuffed.org, a website that hosts funding campaigns for organizations and individuals dedicated to social causes. UWA students use chuffed.org as a social networking space devoted to their research projects. UWA’s alliance with chuffed.org enables the public to donate to research fundraising campaigns very easily, as the established website provides tax receipts and offers a secure payment option for donors.
Although having a partnership such as UWA and chuffed.org is beneficial, students can raise funds on their own. It is not necessary for your school to partner with an established crowdfunding site for you to use crowdfunding to cover the cost of your research. In fact, according to Dr. Campbell Thompson, Director of the Office of Research Enterprise at UWA, the success of research project funding is ultimately determined by the researcher’s own connections, rather than the collaboration between UWA and chuffed.org. “Students at UWA are expected (and encouraged) to take advantage of their own contacts through additional social networking methods [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.] to increase their fundraising potential,” says Dr. Thompson.
One researcher did exactly that. After receiving donations from family, friends, and strangers, she was able to finance an important part of her research. “A total of 73 people backed our campaign, and I’m immensely grateful to each and every person who donated, shared, and supported us. A little over a week ago, I was finally able to conduct the fieldwork,” she writes on her chuffed.org page.
To begin crowdfunding for your research, you should first set a fundraising goal. For example, a Principal Investigator decided on a fundraising goal by calculating the cost of financial compensation for an assistant, paid at a fair daily rate, to maintain the ecosystem they monitored for their research. At UWA, researchers using chuffed.org usually set a goal of $10,000–$15,000, and the average donation is $50. Their most successful project raised $40,000. You should also offer “perks” for donors as incentives. For example, at a certain amount, a donor would receive an acknowledgment in a research paper, a T-shirt, or a tour of a research site.
Whether you use your school’s resources, a crowdfunding site like chuffed.org, or your personal social networking presence as tools for fundraising, follow the lead of UWA researchers and start creating a crowdfunding platform for your research.
Ready to get started? Take a look at these crowdfunding platforms.
In the comments section below, share how you’ve covered the cost of your research projects with us!