The next time I have success getting some funding for my research will be the first. It’s not that I haven’t been part of successful grant applications – I helped the UNH fencing club get money for a new scoring machine thing back in 2001 and I met more than my share of grant-writers when I worked at University of Canterbury’s Learning Skills Centre. In other words, I’m one of the people the Deakin University is thinking of in their crowdfunding initiative.

But there’s something that really and truly bugs the everloving shit out of me. It’s point number three in their “Five crowdfunding tips“:

Be comfortable mixing the personal and the professional. Successful crowdfunding means engaging with the people who have the biggest investment in seeing you succeed. And nine times out of ten this will be your friends and family, or even your colleagues down the corridor.

I’m supposed to ask my mother, who lives on Social Security disability payments in a trailer because she has Stage IV lung cancer, to send some money my way. I’m supposed to ask my father, who lost his job as a welder and now works on the delivery dock of a grocery store, for money. I’m supposed to ask my sisters for money – because waitresses, social workers, and students are a ready source of buckets of money. After all, they don’t have bills. I do not doubt the good will of my family or my colleagues, but it is not their fucking job to fund my research. I’m lucky to have moved to NZ, where my health problems, which would have cost ten or twelve grand in the States, were covered under national health. Your average humanities PhD in the US carries non-dischargeable undergrad student loan debts and, in all likelihood, a fair amount of credit card debt from emergency dental care and/or medical problems during grad school. I fail to see how asking my paycheck-to-paycheck junior faculty pal for some scratch to fund my research is going to accomplish much.

How, exactly, will crowdfunding help me get a decent gig? It would seem to make me the cheap option, the option that would require nothing of the university other than a hot desk and an email address. I’m already a contract lecturer who gets no research support from the university. The last thing the suits need is some Mitt Romney pep talk from the people who are allegedly on my side.

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