How Private Funding Benefits US Science Department

| Updated on June 12, 2024

Private funding is extremely important for science in the United States. Government money is not enough for all the research that needs to be done.

Private Funding Benefits US Science Department

Many people know about big donations to science. However, even small donations can make a significant difference. A new study explains how small donations work. Alex Gates from the University of Virginia did the study with his team. The study appears in the journal “Scientific Reports”.

Gates and his team examined tax forms known as Form 990. These forms show how much money nonprofits get and spend. They looked at forms from 2010 to 2019. They discovered over 3.6 million records from approximately 685,000 universities and research institutions.

They found that 69,675 nonprofits gave and received 926,124 grants. The total for this was $208 billion. In recent years, this private money reached $30 billion a year. This is similar to what the National Institutes of Health provides.

Big donations are uncommon. The majority of the money is raised through small donations. The study also showed that some groups give money to local places more than to faraway ones. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation makes significant contributions to Seattle-area organizations.

The study found that groups that get a lot of money from the National Science Foundation also get more private money. This means that some groups might get more help than others.

Donors often give money to the same places every year. This may enable these locations to experiment. But it can also mean that new places might not get enough money.

Gates and his team made a model to predict which groups will get money. This can help researchers know where to ask for money. The model works similarly to the Netflix algorithm, which recommends movies based on what you have previously watched.

This study helps us understand how private money supports science in the US. It demonstrates how modest contributions build up and have a big impact.

Charu Thakur