How will the #SciFund Challenge work?

Jai Ranganathan

So, you are intrigued by the idea of using crowdfunding to raise cash for your scientific research directly from the public  (check out Jarrett’s great post from yesterday about crowdfunding in general). How does the #SciFund Challenge help you to conjure up those dollars from the adoring crowds?

Here’s the basics of how the Challenge will work. For the month of November 2011, participants in the #SciFund Challenge will run their own crowdfunding campaign to fund a small portion of their research. How small? Something that costs in the range of hundreds to low thousands of dollars. Let’s call it a one thousand dollar target, for short. Why so small? The smaller the dollar target, the greater the chance of success. And raising money by crowdfunding is very different than the standard methods of raising research dollars (hitting up government agencies and big foundations). So, let’s walk before we can run. But the good news is that the skills you’ll pick up in running a small crowdfunding campaign are exactly the same skills you’ll need to fund a much, much larger project.

We can do it
A #SciFund Challenge participant

Even though participants in the Challenge will be running their own crowdfunding projects, no one will be doing this alone. One of the key roles of this blog will be to give pointers and advice on the nuts and bolts of running a crowdfunding campaign. Equally importantly, behind the scenes, participants will be helping each other with their projects, giving encouragement, ideas, and feedback (more in future posts on how exactly this help will be provided). This help will be especially important during another key date for the Challenge – the month of October 2011 – when participants will be planning their campaigns (more on that later, also).

What’s the advantage of everyone crowdfunding at the same time? First off, it allows for a critical mass of people to help each other during the planning phase. Second, we are going to be building a big publicity buzz around this whole Challenge (trying anyway), creating greater public exposure than individual projects might be able to get on their own. Last, with many science projects launching at the same time, we will be able to see very quickly which campaign strategies are succeeding. Projects that are doing less well will be able to imitate the strategies that are working, increasing the chance that everybody wins.

So, what are you waiting for? If you are a scientist of any level (beginning grad student to emeritus professor to independent) in any discipline, sign up to participate in the #SciFund Challenge. We’d love to have you.



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