What is crowdfunding science?

Crowdfunding is raising money for a specific project by encouraging a large number of people to pledge an amount they feel comfortable with. One persons contributions will probably not be enough but if 100s or even 1000s of people contribute then the money starts to add up to fund meaningful research. Scientific research is often very expensive and few people can afford to give enough money for a whole project, however, through crowdfunding, people with common interests can pool their contributions together to raise enough money for a project they care about to get funded.

This is not a new concept, in fact Alfred Russel Wallace funded his work by selling specimens he collected from his field work to fund his research, so the theory of evolution was discovered because of crowdfunding science back in 1858. If he only sold specimens to one person he probably could not have afforded to do all the research he did, but by selling specimens to a number of people he could pool the money together to make it count affording him the opportunity to discover his theory of evolution in the area now known as Wallacea!  Our former brand name was Walacea as a tribute to Alfred Wallace and how he used funding from the crowd to help fund one of the most important scientific discoveries in scientific history. We have recently rebranded to Crowd.Science to help people remember our name more easily.

Does Crowd.Science have any features that differ from other crowdfunding platforms (for people who are supporting scientists)?

1. Crowd.Science only accepts science projects, these can be scientific research or projects aimed at supporting outreach. So far we have only worked with scientists working at universities, however we are happy to accept projects from independent scientists or citizen scientists. This means that on Crowd.Science you will only be able to fund and browse science projects.

2. The rewards structure is geared towards engaging people in science. This means through Crowd.Science you will have the opportunity to support science and learn more about it through seminars or artistic interpretations of the findings! We like offering unique artwork related to studies that fund on Crowd.Science!

Does Crowd.Science have any features that differ from other crowdfunding platforms (for scientists thinking about crowdfunding)?

1. Crowd.Science only accepts science projects, these can be scientific research or projects aimed at supporting outreach. So far we have only worked with scientists working at universities, however we are happy to accept projects from independent scientists or citizen scientists.

2. The rewards structure is geared towards outreach and more structured than other platforms. This means we can mentor you through the process and you can also discuss ideas with your peers who are crowdfunding their work.  We are also investigating ways we can manage perks for you upon request so you can spend more time conducting research!

3. We help you plan how to target key audiences and market your campaign.   This is a really key part of running a successful campaign and is often overlooked.  Before we make your campaign live we advice you to map out key networks who you believe may be interested in your work and plan a communications strategy with them.  You can find more guidelines through our crowdfunding tips blog and crowdfunding guidelines page

4. We are in touch with a number of science correspondents for major news outlets and if your research is of media appeal we can help you reach out to journalists. So far scientists crowdfunding with us have been featured in Reuters, CNN, Sky News, BBC, IFLS, RT, Nature, Science News and many other outlets.

What is educational rewards based crowdfunding?

The term “educational rewards based crowdfunding” has been coined by Crowd.Science. Rewards based crowdfunding is simply when in exchange for a person pledging a certain amount of money they receive a reward that they choose should the project reach its goal. On other crowdfunding websites you can offer any rewards. Crowd.Science is different, although we would like you to be creative with your rewards, we would like at least one of your perks to be geared towards outreach.

This structure gives you a unique opportunity for you as a researcher to share your passion with audiences who are fascinated by your work. The benefit is two fold, firstly you get to communicate your work to new audiences and secondly if your backers enjoy the experience they will be more inclined to support your future projects as well as other projects on the website. Therefore by crowdfunding on Crowd.Science you can fund your work, communicate your message and further support the scientific community.

What benefits will I get as an academic by using Crowd.Science?

Crowdfunding on Crowd.Science is an excellent way of showcasing your work and it will help you engage new audiences who otherwise may never have found you. This will add to your kudos as an academic, also it may even open up all sorts of other opportunities for collaboration, press releases of your work, web based showcases and even TV opportunities. To read some updates from scientists who have crowdfunded with us check out our science updates blog.

What benefits will I get as a backer of science by using Crowd.Science?

Crowd.Science’s mission is to help scientists fund independent research that is beneficial to society.  By backing science and spreading the word about the project you supported you will be joining our community of people who are enabling research that is important across a huge range of areas.  We are particularly passionate about advancing research that helps protect our environment, in addition we have been blown away by the range of projects that scientists are working on in a range of disciplines.  We were very excited to have helped fund the first MRI scans of the brain on LSD which has been published in PNAS and we also thought the friendships in dwarf mongooses project was rather cute!

We would also love to hear from you if there are particular areas of science that you believe are underfunded and you would like to register your interest in backing projects in these areas.  If we build a large enough community of people who want to back research across a specific theme we could really help research progress in areas that people care about without having to rely on government to allocate funding.  If you have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share please do get in touch! (hello@crowd.science)

What is the difference between flexible funding and all or nothing funding?

We host two types of campaigns on Crowd.Science.  Flexible funding means that all funds are raised are collected provided that enough funds are raised for the scientists to honour the perks and also do at least part of the experiment that they were fundraising for.  We allow this option as we recognise that often even a small amount of funding is useful to scientists and it can be hard to predict what is a realistic goal. During our early days a few projects went for goals that were too high but still managed to raise several thousand.  The funds were not collected and we felt that this was a shame as the money raised was significant enough to be useful.

The other option we offer is all or nothing funding.  This is for campaigns that really do need to raise the amount specified to do the project and if they do not reach the goal they cannot do the project or even a part of it.  For all or nothing campaigns all funds are refunded to backers and no perks are processed.

How will an audience be attracted to my project?

The team at Crowd.Science are building networks with a number of organisations who will help promote projects on Crowd.Science. However, you need to bring people to your campaign page too. Please make sure you have a read of our crowdfunding guidelines and crowdfunding tips blog for ideas on how to grow your audience.

How much money can be raised?

Projects ranging from a few hundred pounds to over £1million have successfully been crowdfunded. At Crowd.Science we believe that anything is possible and we will endeavour to make every project a success, however, as crowd funding science is a fairly new concept we recommend you start with the smallest goal that makes your project feasible.

We have found that projects of up to £3k have a very good success rate.  This does not mean that projects aiming for bigger goals are not possible, however they do require a bit more planning and network mapping.  If you would like to discuss a proposal with us, we are happy to talk it through with you, just drop us an email (hello@crowd.science)

How can I crowdfund my research on Crowd.Science?

To crowdfund on Crowd.Science submit your idea via our “crowdfund science with us” page or email us (hello@crowd.science).  This is a really quick form that takes a couple of minutes to complete. Once we receive your idea, we will get in touch with you and work with you to craft an awesome campaign page!

How long should my campaign be?

All projects can run their campaign for up to 3 months. We recommend that you consider how much you need to raise, how familiar people are with your project and when you would like the project to start when you work out your crowdfunding timescale. Sometimes shorter campaigns can create more urgency and momentum. However, unless you are a crowdfunding guru we would usually recommend going for a longer timescale to give you time to reach out to people who you think will be interested in your work.

When I reach my goal how do I process the rewards?

One of the unique selling points of Crowd.Science is the rewards structure, we would like you to carefully map out a plan for the communicating your rewards once you reach your goal. Once you have completed this, we will liaise with you to help you coordinate them. We are also working on a managed perks solution where we process all of the perks that we can such as printed perks that need to be mailed out…please email us to find out more (hello@crowd.science)

Are there any fees? 

Crowd.Science takes a commission from successfully funded projects. This enables us to improve our website and pay a team to make sure Crowd.Science can continue to support scientists in funding their work.  For each project that is funded through Crowd.Science we pay the payment gateway we use approximate 3% and we take a 5% commission.  To make the calculation of funds simple for scientists we transfer 92% of collected funds to scientists.  This covers the cost of the payment gateway and also the commission Crowd.Science takes for hosting the project.

Our mission is to create a sustainable business that has a huge positive impact that benefits the scientific community, society and the planet. As we grow we will endeavour to improve the tools we have that support crowdfunding science and outreach opportunities.

Any Questions?

Please send them to hello@crowd.science

Facebook: /walaceafund

Twitter: @walacea_



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