One of the cool results of this new blogging venture is that people send me stuff they think I might be interested in. A series of articles and an editorial in Nature bring philanthropy front and center to the highest level of scientific communities.
It starts off cleverly asking if you would be willing to spend “weekends on the yacht of a friendly billionaire in the name of science.” Depending on your personality, that could be a real sacrifice. But the article quickly gets to the meat. The cold reality of science research in a global recession with diminished flow of public dollars pushes us to private funders and wealthy individuals.
In Alternative funding: Sponsor my science, the key is selling yourself and your science to the right person. None of that is necessarily easy. Scientists feel their science should speak for itself, but, of course, not to lay individuals. Moreover, private donors tend to direct their giving to specific interests and scientists prefer to go where the research takes them. Philanthropy professionals can both fill the gap and provide the ongoing relationship support. There is huge wealth out there. It takes time, relationships and a great story to get it.
Crowd Funding. Ever heard of it? Finding philanthropy: Like it? Pay for it introduces us to web-based fundraising. You have a project, sell it on the web and get it done. If you choose to invest, be careful that it is legitimate (as much as you can in a one-paragraph description). The incredible vastness of communications allows small sums of money to explode into thousands and tens of thousands of dollars.
And finally Philanthropy: The price of charity speaks to the reality of keeping the lights on. So, a wonderful private donation is made to start a project that will cure “XYZ” disease. Yet the grant provides no money to lease space, pay the electric bill, hire secretarial help, buy paper for the copy machine, pay staff benefits, etc. Where does that money come from? This article discusses that even private donors need to begin to realize the entire costs of maintaining a laboratory and doing research.
Philanthropy is now mainstream– bench science, academic and personal. You know it is real when one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world provides a primer on how to raise a buck!