A lack of funding often prevents the continuity of Citizen Observatory activities and the advancement of the maturity of related technical solutions. You may not be aware of available funding opportunities that could facilitate the sustainability of your Citizen Observatory.
Funding calls related to Citizen Observatories in particular, and to citizen science more generally, can become available in different contexts and at different scales, including European funding (e.g. Horizon 2020, ESA, Horizon Europe), regional, national and multinational grants (e.g. EEA grants), as well as via projects (e.g. open calls by ACTION and CSEOL, or the WeObserve Open Data Challenge) and other international programmes and initiatives.
The citizen science community at large is increasingly well-organised in terms of scanning for and sharing relevant funding opportunities, for example via the mailing lists and websites of regional citizen science associations. Also, there are many ways in which to connect to and collaborate with other Citizen Observatories. These collaborations can provide opportunities to join forces to respond to specific funding calls, while they can evolve to more coherent structures through the creation of partnerships or alliances aiming to leverage new opportunities in the field.
At the same time, this information needs to be tapped into and acted upon by Citizen Observatory leaders and community managers. So it is important to set up some deliberate search mechanisms in your Citizen Observatory team to regularly scan for suitable funding opportunities.
Finally, as many Citizen Observatories are project-funded, their post-project sustainability should be analysed and anticipated from the start of the Citizen Observatory, considering options for continuity for specific tools as well as the Citizen Observatory as a whole.
Example from the Scent project
The Scent Citizen Observatory established a smart toolbox of collaborative technologies and applications that engage citizens in monitoring environmental parameters during their everyday activities. A viable option, stemming from the analysis of different exploitation strategies, that could facilitate the continuity and further use of the realised toolbox, lies in seeking sponsorships. Sponsors can be, for instance, industrial organisations that, as part of their corporate responsibility, want to promote awareness about environmental issues and initiate calls-to-action. The ability of the toolbox components to adapt their graphics to the sponsor (i.e., inclusion of sponsor logo, or other customisations) can further support and sustain the realisation of this model.