• Guest Post Feature: Could crowdfunding your research be right for you in 2018?

    Posted by Natalie Jonk, co-founder and CEO, Crowd.Science on January 16, 2018

    Crowd.Science is a platform which aims to help academics raise the funding they need for their research. The platform was launched at the end of 2014 and over the last few years the team behind it have developed an understanding of the types of projects, as well as academics, most suited to crowdfunding.

    The Crowd.Science platform home page.
    The Crowd.Science platform home page.

    In the beginning, our philosophy—after seeing some massive successes on Kickstarter—was to try any size project but now, a few years down the road, some key learnings have taken place and we’d like to share those insights with you.

    1. Crowdfunding is not passive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could simply put up a project and then people would come in droves to fund it? Unfortunately, this is not how it works. Crowdfunding campaigns tend to require careful planning and a decent communication strategy to reach and engage potential funders. On the positive side, it means there is a method to making it work.
    2. Keep it small (in most cases). Our success rate on projects up to £3.5k is a staggering 83%, whereas as soon as you go above that sweet spot it starts to become a lot harder to be successful. Generally, the average pledge is £50 and a campaign is doing well if they have attracted 50 supporters pledging an average amount and, perhaps, one or two pledges over £1k—which will usually come from a business or wealthy individual. 50 supporters is a number that is feasible for most people if they can convince friends, family and a few peers that their research is worth supporting. Some academics may have an easier sell than others; for example, health-related topics have a clear incentive and people instantly see the potential positive outcomes, whereas some more abstract projects may struggle to convince people that they are worthy of funding. However, if you can help people understand why your research is important and believe in it, you should be onto a winner.

    3. The best preparation for crowdfunding is crowdfunding. We now encourage all project creators to start small, although we haven’t gone so far as saying you can’t raise more than £3.5k the first time you raise through our platform—although we are tempted to introduce such a limit for first time crowdfunders! Our ideal scenario is for academics to start with a small project, be successful, then crowdfund again in several months’ time and raise a similar amount again or slightly more. We feel that doing it this way means that both Crowd.Science and the projects we host are more likely to have a positive experience and make headway in building a community of funders and a reliable and predictable funding channel that can support many academics throughout their career.

    4. Some projects can go viral. If raising funds for a small project is definitely “not your thing”, we do try to take on one or two larger projects each quarter where we are aiming to create viral campaigns that get really significant support. For now, with these projects, we would like to cap them at £100k.
    Example of a Crowd.Science project.
    Example of a Crowd.Science project which has reached its initial funding target.

    Worth noting is that at Crowd.Science we are building a network of matchfunders as well as crowdfunders. To date, our largest matchfund is £0.5m and we have had around a dozen businesses pledge support to projects ranging from £1k to £50k.

    Interested?

    Please do send us your projects. We are determined to fund outstanding science and enrich our world—by working together, we can do it!

    If you have any questions about crowdfunding science, please email either Natalie Jonk (natalie@crowd.science) or Sally Burton-Graham (sally@crowd.science) to find out more—and do also check our site to see the projects currently raising funds.

    Photo of Natalie Jonk and Sally Burton-Graham
    Sally (left) and Natalie eagerly awaiting to hear about your project funding proposals!