Hidden agenda of #SciFund, plus Day Nine update

Jai Ranganathan

Frankenstein salamanders race past the 100% line!

So, it is time to spill the beans: there is a hidden agenda to the #SciFund Challenge. Finally, it can be revealed!

Before we get to that though, let’s talk about where we stand at the end of day nine of the second round of #SciFund (Revenge of #SciFund?). In total, #SciFund projects have raised 49,684 dollars in nine days, which is pretty astonishing when you consider that it took us a month and a half to raise 76,000 dollars in the first round.

We are also tracking really well on an individual basis. Three projects have now hit their targets and a big congratulations to the latest SciFunder to join the 100% club, Sheri Sanders, who is the author of Frankenstein Salamanders Steal Genomes. Nineteen more projects are above 50% of their goal, which is just amazing. The current median percentage of the financial target reached is 28% across all #SciFund projects, which is pretty awesome considering that the median FINAL percentage reached in the first round was 34%.

Obviously, part of the reason that we are doing better on a percentage basis this time is that people are being smart and setting lower targets (median of $2000 this time vs. $3500 during the first round). But even in absolute dollar terms, we are doing great. The median amount raised currently by #SciFunders is $476 (after nine days), while the median FINAL amount raised during round one after a month and a half was $1075. So, a big congratulations to everyone on your incredible projects and on your amazing efforts to get the word out.

And that leads me to the hidden agenda of #SciFund, which is to change the world (shhh, don’t tell anyone). And every SciFunder is part of it! I really think of #SciFund as a crash course in modern communication for scientists. Everything that SciFunders do as part of their crowd funding campaign (putting together a compelling science message, getting the word out about a campaign, etc.) is essential to effectively engaging broader audiences with  science, whether money is involved or not. In fact, crowdfunding for science is really just a special case of science outreach.

We live in a world where science is incredibly disconnected from society, with disastrous consequences for conservation, education, and for plenty of other policy issues. However, by taking part in SciFund – by actively trying to connect  science to broader audiences – a growing number of scientists are part of the solution. Regardless of the amount raised, SciFunders are having an incredible impact on our world just by reaching out to larger audiences with science.

It is my fervent hope that participant scientists will continue their science outreach efforts even after this round of SciFund ends. It certainly would be in the scientists’ interest – after all, the larger the fan base built around a particular researcher’s science, the more that can be eventually raised through crowd funding. But more importantly, by continuing to reach out with science, SciFund scientists would be part of the growing movement to make the world a better place by connecting everyone directly to science and scientists.