I came across an interesting new fundraising website this evening, it is produced by Cancer Research UK and is called “My Projects“. It is a new idea and the website is in testing (or “beta” mode).
Basically people can choose to give money to a specific project, so say you wanted the money you raised to help people with leukaemia, then you could support Doctor Vaskar Saha carrying out leukaemia research in Manchester.
I’ve had a quick look at the profiles, two of the researchers are in Scotland, both in Glasgow (as far as I’m aware, most of Cancer Research UK’s funding goes to Glasgow and Dundee). You can choose whether to donate your money to cancer information nurses, bowel cancer , leukaemia, prostate, breast or lung cancer. On a rather cynical note, these cancers affect the most people, so are likely to attract the most donations.
This method of “personalised giving” reminds me of an American charity called “Women for Women International“, which supports female survivors of war. People who donate money to the charity can write to the one specific woman they sponsor (letters are translated by the charity). Speaking of women, I noticed that 1 of the 6 projects is being run by a woman, this is probably pretty representative of science as a whole, about equal numbers of men and women get biology PhD’s but men are far more likely to continue a career in research than women. It would be interesting to know how many of Cancer Research UK’s grants go to women and how that compares to other charities and research institutes. Maybe I should write another blog post about women in science?
I think the My Projects website could be very successful, people like to know where their money is going. I think for it to really take off, it needs to become interactive. That is, with updates from the laboratory and the hospital about how the research is going. By updates, I don’t mean a bland paragraph of “annual review”, with phrases such as “we are making considerable progress and have solved a number of technical difficulties…” Something more akin to Facebook status updates or Twitter, letting you know on a day to day basis how the research is going. If it’s good enough for Stephen Fry, Jonathon Ross and Barack Obama, surely Cancer Research UK could get in on the game?
If you do know of any cancer researchers on Twitter, do let me know by posting a comment below. Thanks.