These tips were distilled from a discussion among the following panelists at LingComm21 in April 2021:
- Grant Barrett, A Way With Words
- Laura Wagner, Language Sciences Research Lab at COSI
- Martha Tsutsui Billins, Field Notes
There are no major sources of money meant specifically for lingcomm. You’re going to have to be strategic and creative.
Different types of projects have different possibilities for funding. If you’re producing something that an audience can enjoy on an ongoing basis, crowdfunded donations might be a great approach. If you’re in an academic setting, you might look for grants available within your institution. If it’s not clear what the best approach is for you, investigate how other projects like yours have been funded.
Look to non-linguistics projects for models. Since linguistics and lingcomm are still relatively small fields, it can be useful to seek inspiration from projects in other areas, such as scicomm or public history, or within your format, such as podcasts or YouTube channels. For example, if you’re thinking of running a crowdfunding campaign, take a look at campaigns for projects that have roughly as many followers as yours to get a sense of how much money you might be able to raise.
Be creative about how what you’re doing can be packaged to attract funding. Figure out what potential funders care about and what you’re doing that can be described that way. For instance, if you’re having university students teach community members about linguistics, you might frame that as training students or as building connections between the university and the local community if you’re trying to get funding from a university or granting agency. Approach the funder by presenting your efforts in the terms they care about, which may different from what you care about.
Don’t do something entirely different from your core project to attract funding. With crowdfunded projects in particular, it can be tempting to offer perks like a t-shirt or a regular newsletter to those who support your work. Be mindful of the extra workflow this offer creates and skeptical about whether your supporters are actually interested in it. It’s okay to ask supporters for money to continue creating something they already enjoy.
Make sure your success doesn’t outpace your resources. Funding does not give you infinite time or capacity, so be deliberate and reasonable about the commitments you make. If you are planning for a long-term or ongoing project, consider how you will balance it with other future priorities. That said, having an ongoing source of funding can ultimately help with the longevity of a project by enabling you to fairly compensate the people involved and reducing the likelihood of burnout.
This post is part of a series of resources from LingComm21: