Forest ecology crowdfunded

Forest_RockethubSuccess! Michelle Spicer (Lehigh MS student) has successfully obtained funding for her forest research using the relatively new method of crowdfunding (see previous post). Admittedly, I had some doubts about the crowdfunding model when I first heard about it, particularly how successful it would be at engaging the public in science research. I also wondered how much of the funding for these projects was typically obtained from the general public versus immediate friends and family of the investigator.  However, Michelle’s research topic seemed to be well suited to crowdfunding so I was excited when she decided to give it a try.  She ended up being more successful than I would have guessed.

Michelle exceeded her funding goal, and was able to attract contributors from outside of her immediate network of family and friends.  Her proposal was funded by 23 individuals, and although 10 of these individuals were family and close friends, this group of people only provided about 20% of the total funds.  About 80% of the funds were from people that were outside of her immediate network, and these were nearly all people that she had never personally met; i.e., friends of family, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, Lehigh University alumni, and people that found her proposal through SciFund, Rockethub, and their networks.  The median contribution was $25, although contributions ranged from $10 to $1000. Most surprising to me was that the two largest contributions ($500 and $1000) were from people that she had never met.

The sources of funding for Michelle Spicer's crowfunding research proposal, which was part of the third round of the SciFund Challenge.  Number of contributors and contributions in different networks are shown.  "Family and friends" refers to her immediate network. "Friends of friends" includes people that she did not personally know, but were friends of people in her immediate network. "Lehigh" refers to Lehigh University alumni, students, parents, etc. "Scifund" includes people that likely found the proposal through SciFund, Rockethub, or their networks.

The sources of funding for Michelle Spicer’s crowdfunding research proposal, which was part of the third round of the SciFund Challenge. Number of contributors and the total financial contribution of different networks are shown. “Family and friends” refers to her immediate network. “Friends of friends” includes people that she did not personally know, but were friends of people in her immediate network. “Lehigh” refers to Lehigh University alumni, students, parents, etc. “Scifund” includes people that likely found the proposal through SciFund, Rockethub, or their networks.

It is also worth noting that through this process, Michelle’s SciFund proposal was shared extensively on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets – and therefore a lot of people learned about her project and the Lehigh Experimental Forest.  Clearly the process of engaging the public and alumni in this project has only just begun, and Michelle has already had some nice correspondence with some of her funders. Michelle plans to post updates of her research progress on her blog, In the Forgotten Forest, where anyone interested may post comments, suggestions, and questions as her research progresses.  A big thanks to all the funders, and to all of the people that “shared”, “liked”, and “tweeted” Michelle’s proposal.

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Posted on December 17, 2012, in Ecology (EES-152), Original Posts, Research and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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