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Perhaps because of the success of some political campaigns in raising large sums online from small donors, many other groups have started using crowdfunding to raise funds. In some cases these are individuals or organizations that would normally be funded through tax dollars, but those funds are increasingly hard to come by, in part because of the refusal of so many legislatures to address budget shortfalls by raising revenues. Schools are one of the groups that have sought to raise funds in this way, and in particular I encourage you to look at The Inoculation Project, where Kossacks directly support efforts to improve science and math education.

More recently, as research budgets have begun drying up, scientists have started to turn to crowdfunding to carry out basic research.

Many crowdfunding sites have one or two science-related projects, but two sites in particular have attracted scientists.

SciFund Challenge runs their funding through Rocket Hub. They are currently sponsoring 74 projects. There is a definite environmental tilt to the projects listed there, and many of them involve biodiversity or climate-related studies. For example:

The rate of forest recovery and CO2 uptake in Borneo

Monitoring the response of mountain birds to climate change

Heat stress on Pacific coral reefs

Not all of the projects have a direct environmental theme. For example there is one project that is studying decision-making in blue jays.

The second site that has become popular with scientists in Petridish.org. Petridish currently lists 17 projects, and their site lists 3 others that have completed their fundraising. You can find environmental-themed projects here too, such as tagging sharks for satellite tracking. But Petridish.org seems to have a greater range of disciplines represented, including an exomoon project (that is already funded), paleontology and plate tectonics projects, and evolutionary studies.

I would encourage Kossacks with an interest in science to send a little money toward these projects, if you have it to spare. An election year is always a tough time for fundraising, unless you're running for election, and of course electing politicians who support science is perhaps the most effective way of ensuring that science keeps moving forward. But this provides another way to show your direct support.

Full disclosure: I have a project listed with Petridish.org, but I don't want to reveal which project that is. In part, this is because I want to remain relatively anonymous (so if you figure it out, please keep it to yourself; just donate!), but it's also because most of these projects are worthwhile and deserve funding. I'm not trying to promote my own work, but rather the entire concept of directly funding science.

Originally posted to Hopeful Monster on Wed May 02, 2012 at 09:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK Grants and DK Lending.

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