New Tool to Help Faculty Raise Money for Research

Dr. Benjamin Hart and Ginny, his Australian Shepherd.

Dr. Benjamin Hart and Ginny, his Australian Shepherd.

Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Veterinary Medicine, loves his Australian Shepherd and has devoted a large part of his career to studying canine companions. After a surprising discovery in two recent breakthrough studies, Hart is taking advantage of UC Davis’ new crowdfunding program to help build the world’s first science-based guidelines on the safest age to spay or neuter dogs.

Though dog owners and veterinarians have a strong interest in the subject, the relatively small scope of the project wouldn’t meet the criteria typically required by large funding entities. So Hart’s team decided to launch an Indiegogo campaign.

Crowdfunding is the increasingly popular practice of fundraising from a large number of people online. UC Davis has selected Indiegogo, the world’s most established crowdfunding platform, as the university’s approved vendor. The pilot program will enable faculty researchers to seed fund innovative projects.

“The Indiegogo staff has been helpful,” said Hart, “and the website for uploading the material is quite easy to use.”

Benefits of crowdfunding through Indiegogo include:

  • The researcher will not accrue tax liability, as they would if they pursued crowdfunding through any other vendor.
  • As members of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution, UC Davis researchers receive Indiegogo’s 25% discount on platform fees.
  • Faculty researchers don’t need marketing expertise to effectively promote campaigns. Indiegogo includes robust social media share tools, plus tips for promoting the campaign offline. The university also provides a comprehensive marketing toolbox.
  • Additionally, University Development has prepared helpful guidelines to complement Indiegogo’s user-friendly tips and tools, so that campaigns are compliant with UCOP and UC Davis policies and simple to execute.
  • Indiegogo ensures the project is UC Davis-branded, and that the donor’s gifts are tax deductible.

The money raised through Hart’s crowdfunding campaign has the potential to help the country’s 83 million-plus households with dogs. While most dog owners understand the importance of spaying and neutering to help control pet overpopulation, new findings from Hart and other researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine indicate that the age at which spaying and neutering happens can potentially have a significant impact on a dog’s long-term health. Hart’s goal is to make science-based advice available to people adopting mixed-breed dogs.

“I want to give dog caregivers the dignity of making an informed choice,” said Hart. “About six years ago I was reviewing the research available on the adverse effects of neutering and realized it didn’t account for breed, sex or age of spaying or neutering. Our first two studies, and the huge amount of public interest in them, have inspired us to do much more. The Indiegogo campaign will enable us to do just that.”

Learn more about the crowdfunding pilot program’s policies, or email questions to crowdfunding@ucdavis.edu.