If you're a student on one of the MTEC education consortiums (Mining Education Australia, Minerals Geoscience Honours, and Metallurgical Education Partnership) you might be contemplating or already conducting your own research projects. MTEC students are keen innovators, whose research papers are of international standard. But one of the biggest barriers to completing, or even starting, these often lofty and ambitous projects.. is funding.
Crowdfund Your Research
So why not crowdfund your research? Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.
Israel Del Toro - love the name - is currently a Ph.D Candidate in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program at the University of UMass Amherst. He will be defending his thesis in June entitled "Climatic Change impacts on the diversity and function of ants in eastern North America". To do this he must first travel to Australia to spend two months at CSIRO collaborating with local entomologists, ecologists and climate modelers to predict how ant species distributions and communities will change in the next 100 years. This of course requires $$.
Israel has thus looked at Crowdfunding to finance his trip downunder, and has used the website "Experiment" to do so. The funds requested for this project will be used to cover Israel's travel expenses to Darwin Australia. Some of the funds will also be used to assist in covering publication costs in open-access peer-reviewed journals like PLoS ONE or Peer J. Any additional support will help him to attend the International Union for the Study of Social Insects meeting in Cairns Australia. To date Israel has recieved $740 of his $2000 dollar target. Unfortunately, at this stage the Experiment website only takes research projects from within the United States, however, a plethora of crowdfunding websites exist.
9 Top Australian Crowdfunding Websites
The Australian Small Scale Offerings Board, or ASSOB, is spearheaded by Paul Niederer and has been active in the crowdfunding space since 2005. Often used as a benchmark platform for equity crowdfunding in the US, over a hundred companies have raised over $133 million through the ASSOB to date. The ASSOB facilitates equity crowdfunding via curated deals and accredited investors.
The team at ChipIn “built Chip In to make sure that even if you’re only able to give $1 of your money or a minute of your time, you know that you, along with hundreds of other generous Australians are building a more awesome Australia.” Transparency is key to their pitch. ChipIn allows backers to track the impact of their donations through the site.
CitiNiche uses their own spin on crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to empower renters and those seeking property to interact with large developers. Developers get the peace of mind that their properties have committed tenants and buyers before breaking ground, and the “crowd” gets the chance to influence the spaces they want to live in.
Crowded is a support company based in Australia that is in the midst of a web site redesign at the time of writing. Crowded is a modern agency offering crowdfunding consulting services alongside PR, marketing, web design and graphic design services as well.
EverydayHero has helped thousands of “everyday heroes” raise over $100 million for charitable causes since launching in 2007. Although EverydayHero is active in Australia, they also aim to help nonprofits in New Zealand, Singapore and the UK. Interestingly, project creators pick from an already curated list of 1200 charities and choose one to support. The creator then creates a pitch page saying why they are supporting that charity or cause and backers can contribute.
FieldTheory is run by a small group of individuals who choose four projects per year to support, reaching out to a network of backers to encourage donations. Donations are accepted via Paypal and interested backers can submit their information on the site to be looped into future happenings.
iPledg pitches themselves as a “broad based, global crowd funding platform for individuals, companies and organizations.” To date 13 projects have been successfully funded on iPledg across a wide spectrum of interests.
Jet Fuel is a relatively new rewards-based crowdfunding portal that offers flexible funding campaigns as well as fixed funding. They are also flexible on timelines, with some campaigns stretching out as far as six months or more. Jet Fuel is build on WordPress using the Fundify theme.
Pozible is a rewards-based platform that caters to project creators not only in Australia but also here in the States. It is also probably the largest of the rewards-based sites on this list. Innovative features of the platform include the ability to launch private projects in order to control who has access to a project’s page. They also have a really slick search UI that is worth a look by itself.
Top International Crowdfunding Websites
Kickstarter has emerged as the most popular site to fund your creative idea. All funds raised incur a 5% fee with an all-or-nothing model that builds urgency but leads to the loss of all funds if the goal isn’t met, plus 3-5% transaction fees. The site has excellent branding and a high site traffic rate for greater project visability. There is, however, an approval process limited to "creative" projects, and a propotency towards US and UK projects.
Sample Project: Tripsaver: The Ultimate Travel Budgeting App
Many Crowdfunding websites do not seem to realise that projects do exist outside of American borders. This flexible crowd-funding site serves as an open and accessible option for campaigns worldwide. All funds raised for successful projects incur a 4% fee with an all-or-nothing plan. There is however a flexiable plan where you will incur a 9% fee if you don't reach your goal. Transaction fees are 3%. Unlike Kickstarter, there is no application process, it is not country-centric, and an any project goes approach. There is a slightly hirer fee if you don't reach your goal, but an alternative plan to the all-or-nothing approach.
Sample Project: Ovo: The First Autoplay Online Video Player and App
Having recently partnered with A&E Project Start Up, this crowdfunding website offers a unique type of visibility. It costs campaigners 4% for complete campaigns or 8% for partial campagins, and the usual "transaction fee" of 4%. The website is well layouted and easy to naviate, and there is an education component, which is excellent for any first-timer. The traffic is secondary to Kickstarter and Indiegogo but would be suitable for research projects.
Sample Project: Genome Library
This website is dedicated to raising money for anything from personal causes to nonprofits to entrepreneurial projects. The cost is 5% for completed or incomplete campaign plus 2.2% +$.030 transaction fees. There is good social network integration to connect you to people in your network, cheap and convenient transaction fees with funds going directly to your PayPal, and can be used to fund anything, anywhere, at any time. There is a less entrepreneur/creative projects, with less than 5% of people falling into this category, which for MTEC students and buddeing researchers is not a bad thing at all.
Sample Project: Caring for Chris
This is a London-based fund-raising site that can be used to raise money for just about anything, e.g. paying your pet's vet bill to creating a short film. It costs fund raisers 3.5% with a keep-what-you-raised model and the usual transaction fee at a slightly more generous 2.9%. The good news is that it can be used for any type project concievable, the bad news is that there are fewer investors.
Sample Project: Lizzy’s ProjectWalk Fund
This platform blends donation-based and investment crowdfunding models, as well as encouraging online and off-line crowdfunding and collaboration. Cost: 5%, with an all-or-nothing format, plus 1.9%-5% Amazon FPS Transaction fee. Pros: mixes online and offline crowdfunding, emphasis on businesses’ long-term growth. Limitations: for-profit projects only.
Sample Project: Help iOpening Enterprises Grow and Reach More Teens
Crowdfunding for social entrepreneurs, as well as nonprofits and other individuals committed to making change. Cost: 5% for completed campaign, with “tipping point” model, and 3% transaction fees. Pros: Open globally, supports for-profits, nonprofits and individuals, attracts niche audience by highlighting projects centered on the social good. Limitations: Social good projects only, smaller reach than larger and more diverse websites.
Sample Project: Help domestic violence survivors keep their pets