Crowdfunding is the practice of asking the public to help support a financial goal. It’s commonly used in the arts and for charitable causes, but some scientists have used crowdfunding as well. Scientists can fund their work through dedicated crowdfunding websites for research projects.

Examples of crowdfunding in science

There are a few sites, such as and CrowdScience, that are aimed specifically at funding scientific research projects.  They understand the type of financial support that researchers need, and can help them create an effective campaign.

The types of research that can be funded through crowdfunding range from fieldwork trips to entire studies. For example, environmental science students in The Netherlands raised money to research plastic pollution at sea, and a research group in Mexico funded a project to study antibiotic resistance.

How does it work?

Crowdfunding is a lot of work. It requires time and effort to prepare an engaging text or video that inspires people to give you money.  Scientists who successfully raise money through this route often spend a lot of time promoting the campaign and engaging with existing and potential donors. It also helps to have a clear and compelling goal for the money: Be very specific about what the funds are for. Is it to pay for travel to a research location? Will it fund materials?

After the crowdfunding campaign is over, you may have to fulfil any promises and perks offered to donors, which can take even more time.  On the positive side, a successful crowdfunding campaign leaves you not just with money for your research, but also with an interested audience who are keen to hear more about the project they funded.

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Image credit:  Colour-altered image of an original by Espen Sundve on Flickr (CC-BY)