Crowdfunding is a useful alternative for student, postdoctoral scholar and faculty researchers seeking financial support for projects that are difficult to fund through more traditional avenues like grants. It is especially helpful when researchers are seeking relatively small amounts of money—around $7,500 or less—that would be hard to raise independently.
Crowdfunding: 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.
To make it easier for USC's researchers to launch their own crowdfunding projects, the Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to have an ongoing collaboration with the scientific crowdfunding site, Experiment.com. We are also pleased to bolster the chances for researchers to meet their funding goals by offering USC researchers a dollar-for-dollar match, up to 50 percent of the total goal amount, on all projects accepted by Experiment.com. This means that our office will chip in up to half of the total dollar amount being sought through Experiment.com, as long as the researchers raise at least half through donations from other sources.
Guidelines: Crowdfunding and Eligibility for Matching Funds
How does Experiment.com funding work?
Experiment.com has some excellent information on their website, about how to get your project started, how their funding model works and more. Check out these resources for help:
Matching support from the Office of Research
The Office of Research will provide up to 50 percent matching funds for eligible projects funded through Experiment.com.
Eligibility for matching funds
- Faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. Student projects must have a faculty PI.
- To be eligible for matching funds, a project must be reviewed and accepted by Experiment.com, then approved through USCeRA.
- If a project is not approved through USCeRA at the department or college level, it is not eligible for matching funds from the Office of Research, but may still be accepted by Experiment.com.
- Proposals requesting matching funds of more than $5000 require additional written approval from the Office of Research. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Researchers who have received matching funds on an active (current) crowdfunded project are not eligible to receive additional matching funds for a new crowdfunded project.
How do matching funds work?
A project which raises 50 percent or more of its project goal during the funding period is considered funded. The Office of Research will contribute any remaining balance at the close of the funding period to bring project funding to 100 percent.
Funds raised through Experiment.com are charged a total of 8 percent in fees. Matching contributions from the Office of Research are not subject to this fee. The University of South Carolina does not collect any IDCs on crowdfunded projects.
A USC researcher submits a proposal and project budget to Experiment.com with a goal of $4,000. After review and approval by Experiment.com, she receives approval through USCeRA, making her eligible for the Office of Research funding match. During a 30-day funding period, she raises $3,250 through Experiment.com. The Office of Research contributes the remaining $750 to fully fund her project.
$2,990 = Funds from Experiment.com ($3,250-$260 fee)
$750 = Funds from the Office of Research
$3,740 = Total funds available to researcher