It’s an interesting one this one. Using crowdfunding sites to fund academic researcher side-projects that otherwise would be difficult to get funding through the normal routes for is a great idea. However it seems to me that if the project the researcher wishes to undertake doesn’t match the ideals or covers a different subject area than those that the institution or funding body which they currently work for does, then it might potentially cause conflict.
If it helps supplement their current work to achieve an end result then, yes, great idea.
For instance, crowdfunding the building of a rocket at work to send your mate into space when your main funding comes from studying the poems of Wilfred Owen might mean the English Department whose facilities you currently use, or the Poetry Society who currently fund you, might get a bit irritated.
Otherwise, it seems to me that you’d then fall into the bracket of citizen science. Conducting research as a member of the public (possibly in tandem with a scientist who might benefit his own research aims with the results gained), in your own free time.
Hey, I have an example of citizen science. My pop asked to be part of a science project that involved members of the public growing tomato plants from seeds that had been taken into space alongside seeds that hadn’t. He then had to send his analysis of things like, growth rates, the overall windfall and, even things like flavour(!) to the research team. We were very proud of his involvement in such a programme and I can say, here and now, that space tomatoes taste great!
Please note: Image courtesy of NASA’s awesome free licensing policy. Go, NASA!