As the pool of government funding for research shrinks, scientists are finding alternative ways to raise money for their projects. In the January 19th issue (Vol. 481) of Nature, Jim Giles and Heidi Ledford present two such models for fundraising.
The first report “Like It? Pay for It” (p. 252) by Jim Giles, highlights the emergent trend of researchers turning to crowd-funding in order to subsidize their studies. Typically in crowd-funding, websites, such as SciFlies and Kickstarts, allow scientists to pitch their proposals to prospective contributors, who usually donate small portions to the research fund. Giles sites President Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign as a success story of how small donations can add up quickly by using the crowd-fund model. In order to raise funds through crowd-funding, researchers must be able to win the trust of potential donors by effectively communicating the viability of their idea without making promises that may not be fulfilled.
Heidi Ledford’s article, “Sponsor My Science” (p. 254) presents another way that researchers can raise money for their projects: appealing to wealthy individuals for donations. In this model, researchers put their schmoozing skills to the test in order to create contacts and win the trust of philanthropists. While researchers must be weary of the possibility that donors may want to attach strings to their funds, attracting wealthy investors has the potential for raising large amounts of money for projects.
Check out the January 19th issues of Nature for more information about these innovative methods of research fundraising, which is available for in-library use. Please email the librarians if you would like a copy of either of these articles.