As many other things that are being decentralized with the advent of the internet, so is research. One of the very things being decentralized is the funding source for research projects. This movement is called crowdfunding, and it is already present and strong for other areas, such as funding of technological, and social projects. They are organized via specialised websites that puts people needing funding with people who are willing to support it:
The idea is somewhat simple. Researchers make a video of what their project/research idea is and ask for a certain value to fund the project. If people find the idea interesting they make a donation via the website hosting that project.
There are normally two types of funding options, fixed, where the researchers only get the money pledged if the donations reach that value (or pass it, and if the minimum is not reached the money is returned to the pledgers), or variable where the researchers get to keep the money raised even if it didn’t reach the amount pledged for. In both cases the website keeps a percentage of the money raised in case the funding is successful.
Some crowdfunding sources are listed below:
http://www.sciencestarter.de/ – Research crowdfunding portal based in germany
https://www.microryza.com/ – Research crowdFunding portal based in the US. (update – this is now called experiment.com)
www.kickstarter.com – A Crowdfunding portal that also works for science projects. Currently (as in 02.02.14) only for projects based on the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
www.indiegogo.com Also a crowdfunding portal that has science related projects. Differently from kickstarter, they support projects from all over the world, except countries in the US OFAC sanctions list
https://www.crowdsupply.com/ is another crowdfunding portal, based in the US, that focus on product development.
www.petridish.org Research crowdfunding portal, but it seems that they haven’t been taking new projects for a while (since February 2013)
www.sciflies.org – Research crowdfunding portal based in Florida, their differential is that all projects posted there have to be approved by an anonymous peer review process, currently done by the American Association for Advancement of science. And 100% of the money goes to the project, there are no administrative fees. It was not clear from the website if only US based projects are funded
http://www.rockethub.com/ – General crowdfunding portal, that has also a science division where everyone can start a project.
scifundchallenge.org – Built and maintained by the open science federation, this project has three main «departments», all trying to bridge the gap in between science and the general public: Teach and encourage scientists to outreach, connect the public directly with scientists and science crowdfund.