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K-State Today

January 26, 2016

Amber Vennum successful in obtaining crowdfunding for research project

Submitted by Sarah Hancock

Amber Vennum

Amber Vennum, assistant professor of marriage and family therapy in the College of Human Ecology, submitted a project to Experiment.com, a crowdfunding site that urges people to “support science you care about” and “help fund the next wave of scientific research,” in December 2015. The site gives researchers 30 days to raise funds.

Vennum just found out her effort was successful. “Working on What Works: Testing the Power of Highlighting the Positive” explores the impact of a classroom intervention technique that uses a solution-focused approach and positive reinforcement. Vennum looks forward to connecting with her funders throughout the duration of her project.

“For the applied projects I do — and this one in particular is local — crowdfunding is giving the community the chance to be involved in the research. On the site I used, anyone who donates or supports the project gets updates on how it’s going and an inside look at the research process and outcomes. With the school districts I work with, making that connection is important,” Vennum said.

Adassa Roe, grants and contracts administrator with PreAward Services, worked with Vennum on her proposal.

“She was interested in crowdfunding, and we discussed how to go about it. She did the homework to see which site was advantageous. Some sites aren’t really geared toward institutional or community-based projects,” Roe said.

Although the award documents and budget process differed from more conventional research funding sources, Roe says the minor adjustments weren’t difficult. She expects other researchers to explore crowdfunding in the near future.

“We know from our research administrator listserv that this topic is coming up,” she said.

“Crowdfunding is such a part of our culture right now — I think it’s going to really take off. K-State’s going to be equipped to handle it,” Roe said.

Roe anticipates that other faculty member on campus will be interested in seeking crowdfunding opportunities. Funding graduate research assistants to help sort through data and complete projects is one example of a need crowdfunding could help fill, but wider applications are also possible.

“The reality is that traditional funding sources for applied education and social science research are a bit strapped at the moment, so I thought ‘what else can we do?’” Vennum said.

Vennum is exploring crowdfunding options for another project and may use another site to better fit the audience. She knows the staff in PreAward Services will be up for the challenge.

“I was impressed. Crowdfunding isn’t necessarily easy, but working with PreAward Services is easy. They have a sense of adventure,” she said.

Michelle Toews, associate dean for research and scholarship in the College of Human Ecology, said she is impressed with Vennum’s ability to find an innovative funding source.

“Funding for such projects is scarce, but Vennum thought outside the box and was successful in securing funding. I’m happy to see the College of Human Ecology paving the way for others interested in securing crowdfunding to support their scholarly endeavors,” she said.

Read more about Vennum’s project or visit Vennum’s project at Experiment.com.

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