2020 Crowd-Funded Grants

WDA is once again partnering with the crowdfunding site Experiment to run a challenge grant for Wildlife Health and Disease. During the 2018 and 2019 challenge grants researchers raised more than $80,000 in support of 17 projects.

To be eligible proposals must meet the following criteria:

1. Involve a significant health or disease issue in free-ranging marine or terrestrial wildlife.
2. Have implications for wildlife populations and ecosystems in which wildlife live.
3. Emphasize species conservation and application of a One Health approach.

The crowdfunding process is different from traditional grant funding. Successfully crowdfunded grants are typically smaller grants for smaller projects, and they should be written to appeal to the public rather than to scientists.  The median amount raised for successful proposals is $4000-5,000.

Experiment puts out the initial call and coaches’ researchers through the process of getting their grants ready for the crowdfunding campaign. WDA and Experiment will review each proposal for eligibility and clarity.  Campaigns will launch on September 1, 2020 and it is the responsibility of the researcher to take advantage of the coaching provided by Experiment to ensure that their grant succeeds.

Although both Experiment and WDA publicize the campaign, grant submitters bear the primary responsibility to find supporters and advocates as well as to promote and publicize their grants.  On-going coaching by Experiment will be provided.

In additional to the amount raised from the crowdfunding, WDA will provide 6 incentive prizes.

On the 21st day of the campaign, $1,000 will be awarded to the project with the greatest number of donors, and $500 will be awarded to the project with the second greatest number.

On the 30th day of the campaign, an additional four, $100 prizes will be awarded to the top 4 proposals (excluding the 2 winning proposals from the 21rst) with the greatest number of supporters and whose primary investigator is a WDA member.

Key Dates are:
July 15 - August 15 – Grant preparation and Submission (August 15 submission deadline)
August 15 – August 31 -- campaign coaching and strategy development period with Experiment staff.
September 1 – Crowdfunding campaign kick-off
September 21 - day 21 of the crowdfunding campaign – bonus funds awarded by WDA
September 30 – Crowdfunding campaigns end – bonus funds awarded by WDA

Check out the following links to see what grants were successful during the 2018 HERE and 2019 HERE campaigns.  If you have questions concerning the process please contact or Nicole Sharpe More info here,
2019 Crowd-Funded Grants

WDA’s 2019 Crowd Funding Wildlife Health/Disease Grants

In partnership with Experiment, the Wildlife Disease Association called for research proposals in the area of wildlife health and disease. Approximately $24,000 was raised in support of 6 projects:

2018 Crowd-Funded Grants
2018 WDA’s First Crowd Funding Wildlife Health/Disease Grants Call

Many people have heard of ‘Go Fund Me’ campaigns, but crowd funding is relatively new to science. In June 2018, WDA decided to partner with the goal driven small company Experiment to try out this new way of funding wildlife health/disease projects. Experiment had run a wildlife disease funding effort in 2017 with pretty good success, but not with sufficient response they felt they could continue on their own. WDA’s Futures Committee had identified grant funding for small research projects, particularly those supporting graduate students, as a potential priority. But before recommending it to Council as part of planning for WDA’s programs and benefits after Endowment is reached, the Futures Committee wanted to try it once as an experiment.

WDA put out a grant call in early July 2018 and to qualify grant proposals needed to:

1) Deal with a significant health or disease issue in free-ranging marine or terrestrial wildlife.

2) Have implications for, or a focus on, wildlife populations and the ecosystems in which they live, not individual animal treatment and/or captive wildlife.

3) Emphasize species conservation and application of a One Health approach.

As this was a crowdfunding call, grant applications and the entire process is different from traditional funding, particularly in the way proposals are written, and in funding expectations. Most frequently crowdfunding is successful for student or graduate student, and smaller projects, and where there is urgency for getting work done on emerging issues, or to pump-prime more comprehensive engagement. Average amount raised for successful proposals is in the $4000 range.

Experiment put out the initial call and counseled and mentored grant proponents. WDA reviewed each proposal for compliance with the calls criteria and some of the nineteen initial proposals were rejected.

Once the group of grants were deemed qualified the grants call went live. The call lasted 31 days (July 1, 2018 - August 1, 2018). Although both Experiment and WDA publicized the grant call, grant proponents bore the primary responsibility for lining up support. This is one big difference between crowd funding and traditional funding. Grant proponents must follow through and promote and publicize their grants, help find supporters and advocates throughout the process. Coaching by Experiment on how to do this proved critical to the success of several projects.

2018 Results

WDA was to provide $1000 to the most highly supported project and $500 to the second most highly supported project after 21 days. But we had a tie! Winning projects tied with 134 pledges each. Both Stephanie Norman’s project on antibiotic resistance in marine mammals and Wynand Goosen’s on Tb in black rhino got 134 pledges and they are splitting the two top prizes ($750 each).


At 30 days in WDA member author/mentor, prizes of $100 each were awarded to Henry Adams for his project on Bsal in Costa Rica (48 supporters), Terra Evans for Asian elephant herpesvirus work (71 supporters), Haley Stannard working on mange in wombats (14 supporters), and to Amy Robbins project on chlamydia in koalas (27 supporters). These projects too have received complete funding!


Funds were made available to winners by October 15, 2018. Grant recipients will provide appropriate feedback on the outcomes of the work in the form of ‘lab notes’ and WDA will post these at its website.

In total, 17 projects were accepted for the grant call. Eleven were fully funded (at or exceeding funding goals), 6 failed. A total of $67,382 was raised from 955 supporters. The current success rate was 64%, as compared to an average Experiment success rate of 45%. There was a very good variety of species, diseases, countries and health disciplines involved. WDA provided $1900 to match that $67,400. It was a great ‘experiment’ and may become part of WDA efforts to promote wildlife health (see Action Item #25). 

For more information, visit: