1. What is Donors Cure and what makes us different?
Donors Cure Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of South Carolina. Donors Cure allows members of the general public to donate directly to biomedical research projects led by active researchers at US universities and institutions. We work closely with our researchers to give feedback to their donors about their progress. The result of this is two-fold: researchers learn to communicate their work to the public and donors can see exactly who and what they are supporting. While other crowdfunding platforms exist, Donors Cure focuses specifically on funding biomedical research.
2. What happens when a project is funded?
When a project is fully funded, a notice of award is issued to the researcher's University and the funds are transferred from Donors Cure to the University in the form of a grant.
3. What if a project isn't fully funded?
Donors Cure uses an “all-or-nothing” funding model. In other words, funds are only given to a University when a project raises the full targeted amount. At checkout, donors are allowed to select how they would like their donation to be used if the project chosen does not reach its funding goal. A donor can choose to either 1) allow the researcher's university/institution to choose a similar or new project to fund or 2) donate the funds to Donors Cure. Although Donors Cure does not provide refunds for donations, our goal is to ensure that all donations are used to fund projects that align as closely as possible with the donor's original intention.
4. How much can someone donate?
There is no minimum or maximum donation. Donors can give as little as $1 or as much as $1,000,000 (or more!) to as many projects as they would like to.
5. Are donations tax deductible?
Donors Cure is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the state of South Carolina. Since all donations are made directly to Donors Cure, all donations are tax-deductible. Donors will receive an email receipt that they should retain for their tax records. A donor can also login to their account and download a PDF documenting their annual donations.
6. What happens when a project is funded?How do I know a project will work?
While we would like to say that every project ends up being a success and leads to an amazing breakthrough, there are some that turn out completely opposite of what everyone expected and some that fall somewhere in between. That’s why they call it research! Regardless of what the outcome of a specific project is, there is always something that can be learned that will help future researchers.
7. Who is eligible to post projects?
To submit a project to Donors Cure, a researcher must be employed at an accredited University or Institution in the United States and be authorized to accept grant awards. When a researcher creates an account, Donors Cure verifies that they are who they say they are. When they submit a project, we review it internally to ensure that it falls under our qualifications for research funding. A project is only allowed to be posted to DonorsCure.org if it meets these requirements.
8. What are 'Indirect Costs' or 'Overhead'?
All scientists need space and other support (e.g. heating & lighting) to conduct their research and this is typically found at the University or Institution where the researcher is employed. To help cover the costs of this space (rent) and support, the University typically collects “Indirect Costs”, which are added as a percentage of the research budget. Whether a University requires their researcher to include Indirect Costs is up to the University. If Indirect Costs are added, they will be found as a line item in the project budget. Remember, these costs are equally important to helping researchers get their work done.
9. How is Donors Cure funded?
Donors Cure was initially funded through several generous philanthropists. To cover our administration costs, we add an 8% surcharge to all donations. You can also donate directly to Donors Cure!
10. What does a donor get from donating?
While Donors Cure primarily wants to fund research, we also want to help make scientific research more accessible to the general public, and we encourage researchers to actively engage with their donors. After a project is funded and the research begins, researchers are required to submit semi-frequent updates about the progress of their work and are encouraged and guided to make these easy to understand and reflect the highs and lows of daily lab work. In addition to these more informal updates, if a paper or other publication comes out of the funded research, donors will be notified.
11. Can a researcher have multiple projects open at once?
No. Researchers are only permitted to post one project at a time. If a project closes and did not receive any funds, the researcher can post a new, different project immediately, but that same one cannot be posted again.
12. How much of what is raised does a researcher receive?
Donors Cure adds an 8% surcharge to each donation for our operations. At checkout, a donor can either add this 8% to the amount of their donation or included it in the total. For example, when someone donates $20, they are given a choice to either add the 8% to their donation (so the project receives $20 and Donors Cure receives $1.60) or to subtract it from their donation (so the project receives $18.52 and Donors Cure receives $1.48).
13. What is expected of a researcher after they are funded?
Part of Donors Cure's mission, in addition to providing an alternate means for funding biomedical research, is to help researchers learn to communicate their science to those outside of their field and to allow donors to be directly connected to who and what they are supporting. In light of this, instead of a formal reporting mechanism of a project's progress, we expect researchers to keep their donors updated about the highs and lows of their research. Because we know that not all researchers may be eager to engage with their donors, we have a team that works directly with researchers (our 'Cure-ators'), both during the fundraising period and after a project is funded, to help with this engagement. While researchers will be prompted regularly for how to reach out to their immediate networks and donors, if they need assistance with this, their Cure-ator will be on hand to help them and keep them on schedule with these updates. Researchers are welcome to post updates on their project in the form of a blog post, image or video.
14. What sort of research projects can be posted?
We anticipate Donors Cure to become a great alternate source of funding for early career researchers (i.e. those who are moving from post-doc to assistant professor levels or new faculty). For example, a researcher may want to use Donors Cure to raise a small amount of funding to generate preliminary data that will help them write a larger grant proposal for funding by the federal government (i.e. the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation). Alternatively, a researcher may already have an established project that needs that extra push to complete so they could use Donors Cure to raise an amount of funding to cover their work for another year.
15. What is the project review process?
All projects submitted to Donors Cure are assigned to a 'Cure-ator' (our version of a project manager), who will review the project against a set of criteria that assesses whether the research meets guidelines necessary for not-for-profit research and that the project is feasible given the researcher's background and available resources and for the requested budget.
16. How much money can a researcher ask for?
This is up to the researcher. When developing their project, researchers are encouraged to think “outside-of-the-box”, but to keep in mind that they have a maximum of six months to reach their funding goal. Projects seeking smaller amounts of funding (say, $1,000-$5,000) will take less time to reach their goals but might cover a smaller scope of research, while projects needing larger amounts (upwards of $10,000) may require the full six months but be able to tackle a more substantial research goal. For really large projects, the researcher may consider breaking it down into smaller projects and raise the funds in a step-wise fashion.