“Information is power. With access to relevant information, people can make a difference in their communities and beyond, transforming the lives of millions.”
Research4Life partners contribute to its success by taking on a wide variety of positions on its committees and working groups, making sure that the Partnership keeps serving its users in the best way possible.
The Fundraising Committee is led by Daniel Dollar, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources at Yale University, and Michael Oldham, CEO of Portsys. Today they tell us about the Group’s activities.
Why are we fundraising for Research4Life?
While we have accomplished a tremendous amount through volunteer efforts and in-kind contributions, scaling-up remains challenging.
What does the Fundraising Committee focus on?
Daniel: To put it simply, it’s the group that supports the fundraising efforts to advance the mission and vision of Research4Life. Traditionally we have coordinated efforts to secure the funding that we have relied on since the beginning, e.g. through Group B countries fees. Over the last few years, our mandate has expanded with the establishment of Friends of Research4Life – our fundraising non-profit. Now our work is much more focused on direct fundraising tied into the strategic direction of Research4Life.
And how did Friends of Research4Life start?
Daniel: While in Geneva for the 2019 General Partners Meeting, I remember walking to dinner, and Michael making the point that Research4Life has so much potential but it runs literally on a shoestring – with no funding for what it’s trying to achieve in the world. We had hit a point where we knew that if there was going to be a Friends organization, someone was really going to have to roll up their sleeves: I looked at Michael as someone coming in with a fresh set of eyes, bringing energy and drive to launch it. And so we have started fundraising in a way that we never have before: as Research4Life evolves, the traditional way of funding is no longer going to be adequate to achieve its mission – which is empowering researchers and policymakers around the world.
Can you take us back to how you first got involved with Research4Life?
Michael: My company, Portsys, was initially contacted by Research4Life’s Technology Committee as they were looking for an authentication system, and we had a product that was perfectly aligned with those goals. In that process I got to understand a little bit more about Research4Life and its impact. I started to realize the capability of this organization, and the fact that it was doing this with a very small budget and almost exclusively all volunteer effort – but really good people trying to make a difference in the world in a way that I think is absolutely constructive and empowering. I realized that the potential impact that Research4Life could have on the entire world was incredible. And so I started to get involved directly.
Daniel: My involvement goes back to 2001, when Hinari was established and I was a e-Resources librarian at Yale’s Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. My mentor, Kimberly Parker, oversaw Yale University Library’s Electronic Collections group and later became the Hinari Programme Manager. She knew that I had a real interest in international librarianship, particularly as we were seeing an explosion of online resources: how could we bring people along? And so when Research4Life started, Kimberly asked me for help with content management, which was still highly manual at that time. That is how I got involved, and I never left.
What makes you passionate about Research4Life?
Research4Life has been in place for a generation, and from the impact stories that we hear from users around the world, we know that many thousands of lives have been positively impacted. It’s the old fable: if you give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach a man of man to fish, he can eat for a lifetime. Research4Life adds to this with: if you give them a platform to share that knowledge, they can make a difference in their communities and the entire world. That’s what excites me about Research4Life, it’s potential to change the world for the better, to create a level playing field that benefits all of us in ways that we can only just begin to see. To unleash our true human potential.
And now, if you give them a platform to share information, they can make a difference in their communities and beyond. And by putting our efforts into this, we can transform the lives of millions and millions of people around the world. I’m very fortunate that this has come across my path. — Michael Oldham
Daniel: I’m a product of a public education system and a first-generation college graduate: where I am in my life, being able to have a fulfilling career, a family, and be a member of the community, that’s in large part through education and the opportunities I was given. And that to me is what’s really behind Research4Life: in order to address the societal global challenges that we have, we have to expand educational opportunities, we have to create a more robust flow of scholarship and information exchange across North and South, and back again.
Education and research are central to building a better, more prosperous world. Research4Life can have an even greater impact in helping to strengthen higher education and research institutions in middle- and low-income countries, so that they are part of that robust scholarly exchange. They can train up and educate the next generations, who we’re going to need to really tackle global challenges. We’re not going to be able to address them alone, it has to be a global community.
The next cure for cancer, a major environmental breakthrough or agricultural innovation feeding millions could come from anywhere in the world if given the right support. The Global South may have even more potential as these problems tend to disproportionately impact their communities. By creating an environment that empowers everyone, we will all benefit.
— Michael Oldham
What is the thing that you most proud of?
Daniel: I’m proud that in the early years of Research4Life we were able to build up a large corpus of content, and that we were very responsive and fixing things and making it work! At one point, a colleague that was meeting a librarian at a Research4Life institution told me that they had a subject list of key journals in their area taped on the back of the door of their office: that was off of the pages that I was helping to create, and it made me feel great, like I was really contributing.
Michael: I think for me the proudest thing is actually just being part of this amazing organization: it’s the commitment of Research4Life volunteers that holds it together. And if my experience and viewpoint help the partnership, then I’m very happy to be able to do that.
What are we really excited about in the future, or what would be one thing that you would really love to see happen?
Michael: The mission of Research4Life is really designed to help to create equity in the world. This is a huge goal, but one that provides rewards at every step along the way. Our users in the communities we serve have told us they want to extend their education, engage more in the research process, and help their communities. They need access to vital, current resources and have the financial means to be able follow their goals. That’s where Research4Life can help, but it requires funding: our team’s mission is to get the financial infrastructure in place that’s going to make that possible.
Success ultimately is in the eyes of the users. We know we’re on the right path, but we need to become a financially sound organization – not in and of itself, but to achieve the vision of a better world that really helps us to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals. That is our North Star. — Daniel Dollar
Tell us about yourself! What do you like to do outside of work?
Daniel Dollar: I enjoy being outdoors, hiking, skiing. And I really love just being with my family, and our two dogs, Lucy and Sunday, and our cat Stormy.
Michael Oldham: I have way too many interests, but I love the outdoors, love to ski, hike, bike, play music, dabble in art among others! I find that life is pretty fantastic, and I try to do as much as I can in my free time.