A Twist on Medical Crowdfunding

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July 16, 2013; Watertown TAB


In a twist on crowdfunding, the National Brain Tumor Society began the Community Research Fund program in 2011, which allows donors to give to research about particular types of brain tumors. Now, it has given its first two grants from the fund.

Tom Halkin, Awareness and Community Relations Manager for NBTS, says,“What we wanted to do is start a funding vehicle that could allow groups of people from across the country that have been affected by the same tumor type to come together, pool their donations and start funding for specific research on a tumor type that has meaning to them.”

“There are 120 different types of brain tumors, and naturally, research tends to gravitate towards those certain types of brain tumors that affect the most people or that are the deadliest. However, for the smaller populations affected by rarer tumors, it often means they see less dedicated research money going toward addressing tumors that affect them.”

The first two grants, each worth $300,000, that are due to be awarded are from the Oligodendroglioma Research Fund—the only fund established within the program to date. A family with two sons who had been diagnosed with oligo established that fund in 2011.

The $300,000 is seen by NBTS as being the minimum size research grant it will give, so it will wait until any fund established reaches that floor before making a grant.

This setup reminds us of the collaborative funds at community foundations that are established to benefit a particular effort.Halkin hopes that announcing the grants will advertise this funding mechanism.“You can see this model and say, ‘Hey, I can go through National Brain Tumor Society…We can get something started here.’”—Ruth McCambridge