You Can Successfully Crowdfund Science Projects



Crowdfund Science Projects

The most successful crowdfunding campaigns are often those based in the arts. People are likely to fund projects they understand and feel they could benefit from, usually through tangible products and rewards. So crowdfunding scientific advancements can seem like a more difficult undertaking.

Researchers Jarrett Byrnes and Jai Ranganathan at the University of California-Santa Barbara have been studying crowdfunding for science as part of their project, the #SciFund Challenge. For the challenge, 200 researchers put together and ran 159 different crowdfunding projects. The team then collected data from each project and studied the success rates.

The researchers came to a few surprising conclusions through this work. First, they found that science projects can be successfully crowdfunded. The platforms aren’t just reserved for flashy new gadgets and consumer arts initiatives.

Byrnes told the UC Santa Barbara Current:

“There’s this myth about how crowdfunding is supposed to work. The myth is that going viral is the only way to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. So scientists don’t think that they can use it for their research. And that’s just wrong.”

The second thing they learned is what it takes to get people to donate to these science funds. They found that in order to build success, crowdfunders need to build an audience for their science before the actual crowdfunding begins. And then they need to engage that audience during the crowdfunding process.

That really doesn’t sound far off from what it takes to run a successful crowdfunding campaign in any other industry. To get donors, it certainly helps to have an existing audience. And then you need to get those people involved in your campaign if you want it to succeed.

With science projects, the building of an audience might be a bit different though, since it could take a bit more explanation for people to truly understand what they’re donating to. But the general concept is very similar. So for those in the science industry who might be apt to shy away from crowdfunding, success may still be within reach.

Lab Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

6 Reactions
  1. You should really check out experiment.com

  2. I guess all inventors and scientist may rejoice. Now, funding is no longer reserved for the big names or projects. Now, there is a chance to get some decent funding with crowdsourcing.

  3. I disagree with this statement “The most successful crowdfunding campaigns are often those based in the arts”. You really need to consider the term ‘successful’. Is one fundraiser more successful than the next simply because it raised more money, achieved more exposure or had larger donations? No, I would say even small campaigns can and do achieve the same relative success. Additionally, the assumption “People are likely to fund projects they understand and feel they could benefit from, usually through tangible products and rewards” While partly true, in my experience at GoGetFunding, very few donors actually want to be rewarded for their generosity – their reward is simply knowing they have helped make a difference. That said, I would love to see more independent researchers, scientists and academics explore crowdfunding as a real option for funding.

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