The last few years has seen a remarkable turnaround in the independent arts scene. Crowd-funding. Till recently many a musician or performer would work tirelessly for little more than the chance to perform, to gain exposure to the public eye. If they were VERY lucky they would catch the eye of an agent for one of the ‘establishment’ publishers and be offered a contract. These contracts were usually full of promise and whist offering some income the profits of the agent or publisher were far more substantial and guaranteed. There are lessons here for the funding of small medical projects such as web sites, videos and perhaps even patient support services.
Kickstarter is a way for members of the public to fund a creative project. It has been around for a while and though initially projects had to be funded via a USA bank account this restriction is gradually being lifted. Kickstarter is fully available for projects based in Australia. In essence a project is proposed and members of the public invited to pledge funds. A funding target is set and if surpassed then the funds become available to be used by the project proposer. If the target is NOT met then no funds change hands. Projects usually offer incentives for those who pledge more money, and in the case of projects resulting in a physical product often one of the incentive rewards is the product itself.
A problem with Kickkstarter is that if a realistic budget is set but that funding level not achieved then the project is dead in the water. NO funds are made available. What if the project met say 50% of its budget? Often in that situation significant work could be done, often work which enhances the chance of further funding becoming available. Enter Indiegogo
Another variation on the crowd funding model is Patreon. Patreon is designed more for episodic delivery of a service, often a work of art. Take for example an internet TV show. Users might pledge $1 for each episode that is broadcast (up to a user defined limit). This is an interesting model in that whilst it does not provide a startup lump sum it does provide an ongoing income. Often a precious commodity in service delivery.
Crowd-funded Medical & Patient Services
There are however a growing number of services that can be delivered via the internet, websites, podcasts, forums and groups for example, where there are clear benefit to patients and their carers yet do not fit the fee for service model and Government grants are either not available or an unwieldily instrument.
- Perhaps a patient education internet TV show funded via Patreon.
- Training materials funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
There are many possibilities. Perhaps such crowd-funding mechanisms might also provide some support against bias induced by corporate sponsorship. Many patient support services just could not be done without some level of corporate sponsorship. If the benefits for the corporation (rewards for funding at a given level) are open on the web for all to see then perhaps this might help mitigate any perception of bias.