Crowdfunding is a relatively new way of funding science. It involves members of the public investing in a project, usually in exchange for an incentive. It cannot replace peer-review in the awarding of grants, but does diversify options for funding research projects that may not be ready for, or suited to, a grant from regular sources.
In 2016, I ran a crowdfunding campaign at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was a great success, thanks to my campaign team of scientific collaborators, colleagues working in fundraising and media, and enthusiastic friends and family. Generous backers around the world facilitated a new research project using phylogenomics to solve the Aloe vera mystery, through their donations. The study builds on our previous work, published in 2015, which determined that Aloe vera is almost certainly native to the Arabian Peninsula. The current study goes deeper into this question using more advanced methods and sampling, and could indicate the potential for other species of Aloe to be used for the succulent tissue, like Aloe vera.
Resources for designing a crowdfunding campaign for science