Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding

I recently posted about the process of conducting a crowdfunding campaign to fund your research. In this follow-up post I describe the pros and cons that my interviewees (DeMatteo and Cummings) encountered during their campaigns. Each scientist had a successful crowdfunding campaign although different experiences with the process which is reflected in their pro/con lists.

Pros
• Funding obtained! Obviously the biggest pro to a successful campaign is that you have money to put towards research!
• Connecting with people whether colleagues or NGO organizations that want to support research but could/would not write a check without the structure of the crowdfunding initiative
• Outreach with the public, especially when there may be direct applications of the research for local civic organizations
• Develop new skills such as social media, blogging, lay audience writing, and video editing
• Avenue for funding pilot and/or high risk studies. Obtaining pilot data may serve as the often crucial preliminary data of full grant proposals for NSF.
• Allows research to be pro-active with obtaining funding. If you see your campaign is not going well, you can shift gears in outreach strategy mid-campaign, maybe add new content to promotion website.
• Allows the researcher to let their personality shine through, especially in the video
• Allows funders to feel a connection to the research
• Low risk

Cons
• There is a limit to how much money you can set as your goal. A high goal will not be reachable and will often result in no funding (based on the platform).
• Asking friends and family to donate to research can change the dynamic you have with these people. Need to be aware of your own comfort level with these types of interactions over money particularly when you are following up with people who have promised to donate but have yet to do so.
• A daily sense of rejection when there were no donations for one or multiple days. Questioning what that means about both yourself and/or your research project.
• Stressful process because even when donations were made, more was needed to meet goal
• Time spent on preparation and campaign management especially in light of moderate success rates

Cautions
• Consider the timing of your campaign. Campaigning while doing field work may be difficult, particularly if your field site lacks internet access.
• Need to be moderately tech savvy (e.g. video production, social media)
• Do not campaign frequently as it may fatigue your friends and family who make up a high proportion of donors
• Acknowledge to friends and family that it is okay if they do not donate, and let them know they can support the campaign by sharing information about it with their network via social media.

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