Beyond my own projects, I also have continued expanding the overall social media presence of the #SciFund Challenge itself through Triberr, Google+, Vimeo, YouTube, Scoop.It, Paper.Li, PearlTrees, Pinterest, Storify, and other similar venues to aid all participants in seeking their own projects’ success.
Because crowdfunding research involves much more personal focus than traditional grant seeking, scientists should consider a plan for presentation of their research to a public audience.
The most successful scientific crowdfunding strategies have included:
- Build a large connected and engaged network of friends (Facebook Friends trend better than Twitter Followers, etc)
- Develop an interesting and compelling project video (under 3 minutes seems to work best) and present some type of shorter teaser video during the lead-up effort.
- Identify clearly for supporters what their money will be used for and what monies past the initial goal will provide.
- Establish low-cost rewards for support that are understandable and “fun” for their recipients (keychains, tokens, etc all work well – we tried a new set of geocaching PathTags for Round 2 rewards so I do not yet know the results of that one since they just went out)
- Establish a blog with ties to your field of interest and reach out to others interested in your field and blogging posts through social media, topic curation, personal contact and guest blogging.
- Build interest in your project as the event nears and then hold a “release party” to declare your project open.
- Prep a few of your closest supporters to get a “start out of the gate” for donations, because others like to support “winning projects” and a project that receives even a handful of small donations in the first few days appears much more “winnable” than one that sits with no support for days and weeks.
Note: Placing a small donation towards your own research illustrates that you believe in it enough to spend your own money, but should not be the bulk of your monetary goal or people will see your project merely as paid advertising – plus you are doing this to raise money.
- Continue to blog and talk about your project during its term, making sure to personally thank your supporters as they make donations to your project.
- Reach out to other bloggers in your field, media contacts and others from the group you established before starting your project. Regular, daily communication of progress and milestones reached is very important to building confidence in your project.
- As you close on your funding goal or the project’s end, leverage that nearness to build excitement in your project across your channels for communication – social media, personal contact, etc.
- When your project reaches its end, make sure to explore what is possible with what you have been provided and always speak well of your supporters without detraction of others who may have supported other projects in the same timeframe. Not all project success comes just from the money raised!
- Identify how you spent the money provided by the donors so they understand what their gifts provided.
- Use the money you raised to perform the research you promised! This should be obvious, but supporters of crowdfunding efforts need to see their gifts put to good use to continue their trust and enthusiasm for other crowdfunding projects in the future!
- Make sure to let donors be involved in future research facilitated by their donations so they see their assistance has provided a living embodiment of your project.
- Plan for the next round!
These strategies are also very effective for general crowdfunding, where efforts generally produce a product or deliverable that many scientific research crowdfunding efforts lack. In crowdfunding, researchers involve partners in their discoveries rather than just holding out their hands for money alone and science gains much from this collaborative effort!