Scientists are used to relying on grants for funding, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. But a recent trend called "crowd-sourcing" could help small projects get underway. It's basically a kick starter campaign where the general public gives online donations for scientists' research. North Carolina State chemistry professor Walter Weare was able to pay for new equipment for his solar energy research using the method.
Walter Weare: "The idea behind using crowdsourcing to fund small portions of it is a way for scientists that are doing basic science to turn it into something that the community outside of just science can understand it, and also become invested in it."
The national campaign called the "Sci-Fund challenge" wrapped up December 15th. It was featured on the website rockethub.com.