Crowdsourcing, a form of fundraising through an online community, has gained momentum through websites such as kickstarter.com. More notable crowdsourced projects tend to be movies or albums or the quirkier projects (a Robocop statue for Detroit, for example), but there are crowdsourced projects garnering less attention, though trying to fund important work.
Crila Health, a health care company created to support the work of Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tram, Ph.D. and her research of Crinum latifolium, launched a crowdsource campaign on indiegogo.com to fund a menopause study on how Crila can relieve menopause symptoms.
Crila is a proprietary, clinically-tested, concentrated extraction from the mature leaves of Crinum latifolium, an herb used in traditional medicine for more than a century. Traditionally brewed into tea, the rare wild herb was referred to as "the kings' herb" because Vietnamese doctors would only give it to the royal family. Today, Crila is a concentrated capsule with Tram's unique and proprietary blend recognized as Crinum latifolium L var. crilae Tram & Khanh, var. n. It promotes prostate health, uterine health and relieves symptoms of menopause.
Crila Health started in 2007 in support of Tram after Crila's therapeutic benefits were recognized. Crila Health is vertically integrated, controlling farming, manufacturing and distribution, while supporting scientific research, education , innovation and product development.
The idea to crowdsource came from Crila Health's director, Sue McKinney and a suggestion from her 45-year-old niece, a Crila user.
"She showed me how she and women friends in her age group go browsing and shopping on the crowd-funding platforms, looking for something interesting to support, and maybe get a nifty gift, known in the crowd lingo as a 'perk' in exchange for their contribution. I spent the next six months following several campaigns," McKinney said.
According to McKinney, other medical research projects from credible university medical schools such as University of California, San Francisco, have been funded via crowdsourcing, so she sought the approval of Tori Hudson, N.D., the lead investigator on the menopause clinical trial. With Hudson's support, McKinney began to put together the Menopause Misery campaign, including a narrative, video, perks for contributors and a support team.
The pitch video is an important part to the campaign because, according to McKinney, campaigns that include a pitch video are 80 percent more successful than campaigns that do not include one. The Menopause Misery pitch video was created with help from TriconFilms, a Canadian/Hollywood TV and film production company. McKinney happened to meet the owners of TriconFilms, Andrea Gorfolova and Jameel Bharmal, while they were vacationing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where McKinney has called home for 20 years.
"My new friends at TriconFilms came out to visit the Crila plantation, and offered to direct me in the pitch video and handled the post production, which included editing in the comments of Dr. Michael C. Scott, an OBGYN in Atlanta, who has been using Crila with his menopausal patients for several years," McKinney said. "Without the volunteer effort of Andrea and Jameel at TriconFilms, my pitch video would not have been nearly as succinct and effective as it is."
McKinney chose Indiegogo as the crowdsourcing platform because it offers a health category, unlike the well-know platform Kickstarter. There is also the option with Indiegogo to pay a higher commission to the platform and in return, receive funds contributed to the campaign, whether the goal is met or not.
"There is also no risk because there is no charge to register your campaign and no upfront fees," McKinney said." One is encouraged to line up donors prior to launching the campaign which I did. We were fortunate that International Women's Day afforded us an opportunity for some matching funds, since the Crila Menopause Misery campaign is seen to empower women."
The campaign is scheduled to end on April 20 and doing well, having raised half of its goal in the first week. According to McKinney, most of the support from the first week of donations came from people who already knew about Crila, including online customers. "Now it remains to be seen if our initial success will draw in the Crowd-aholics, like my niece, who seek out relevant causes to support. Most successful campaigns, even those that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, do so from contributions between $25 to 75," McKinney said.
A previous, unpublished study conducted by Vietnam's Ministry of Health looked at Crila's effect on uterine fibroid tumors. In this study, 195 women took Crila for 90 days, and at the end of the 90 days, 30 percent of tumors stopped growing, 50 percent were shrinking and 20 percent continued to grow. There were no significant side effects. Other research has shown Crila's promising results on prostate cancer and melanoma cells.
To make donations, visit the campaign page at Indiegogo. As McKinney said, " The power of the crowd is like the power of the vote. Every person counts, every dollar counts."