Academic conference organizers are thrilled to welcome the energy and ideas of students, young researchers, and faculty, but those are often the people who can’t swing the registration fees and travel costs to attend. Uriel Moreno Nieves, a Stanford University postdoctoral research fellow, wants to change that.
On March 2, Moreno will officially launch Conference Fund, a crowdfunding platform specifically for people who need to raise money to attend an academic conference.
Today, crowdfunding platforms exist for every type of cause, project, event, and situation. For example, CircleUp is aimed at entrepreneurs; CrowdStreet is focused on the real estate industry; GoFundMe is often used in emergencies; Patreon is popular with YouTubers and podcasters. Conference Fund will operate similar to other crowdfunding tools, but it will be unique to the conference attendance niche.
Moreno notes “the positive impact of attending conferences, and also the limitations of funding to attend these events, particularly for students and other young professionals. That’s why I came out with this idea of creating this donation-based crowdfunding platform.” The process for users is straight forward: signup on the Conference Fund site; set up a campaign with information about the conference and why you want to attend; estimate costs; then share the campaign link with family, friends, and colleagues. Conference Fund’s fee is 5 percent of the amount raised.
“The success of the campaign will depend on the marketing by the campaign creator,” says Moreno. However, he plans to look for innovative ways to help users succeed. “Among several initiatives in our project development pipeline,” he says, the company plans to “seek corporate sponsors to match funds raised by users.”