Erasmus University’s first crowdfunding project is a success. The project for erecting a memorial to people who donated their body to science has attained its funding goal of €10,000.

For Gert-Jan Kleinrensink, professor of anatomy and chief of the anatomical theatre, finally collecting the amount needed comes as a great relief. Since 2010 he has made efforts to have a monument erected, but the initiative only gained traction thanks to Erasmus University’s new crowdfunding platform. “I wasn’t sure what to think about crowdfunding but I’m very pleased to see that it was successful.”

The donations came from everywhere: a donor’s relative collected €300 on a birthday, donations from Nationale Nederlanden and EUR Trustfonds, as well as contributions from Erasmus MC departments, students and employees. “Actually, what makes it even better is that we succeeded thanks to our collective efforts,” says Kleinrensink jubilantly.

Before the summer

Thanks to the funds raised, the monument will probably be unveiled this summer at Hofwijk cemetery in Rotterdam-Noord. A large plate glass structure will be placed with an inscription of a poem composed by J.W. Hilhorst, a medical student. It will be surrounded by rocks and plants and the entire monument will be situated on a rust-coloured base. Benches will also be placed near the monument.

Unexpected large donation

Up until Christmas, the counter was at €6,700, but then right after the holidays, the amount needed had suddenly been collected. “It turned out that one of my former students wanted to make up the shortfall and provided the rest of the money needed. She’s a plastic surgeon and very interested in anatomy.” Due to a few other pledges received, the total amount collected is now €12,000, much higher than the original funding goal.

What’s the extra €2,000 going to be used for? “It is our intention to spend all the money raised”, says Kleinrensink. “We’ll simply make the monument a bit bigger. And it’s a good thing too, because Hofwijk has offered us a very large plot and of course we want the monument to stand out from its surroundings. So we’ll add another stone or we’ll make the plate glass a bit larger. We still have to consult with the designers about this.” An opening ceremony is also being organised and some of the budget has to be reserved for this event.

Annual commemoration

A number of memorials and events at Erasmus MC serve to remind people about those who have donated their body to science. At the anatomical theatre entrance, there is a work of art to remind students during every class that they are dealing with people who are flesh and blood. Featured prominently in the Faculty of Medicine’s Education Centre is a book on display containing all donor names.

The last names added to the book are read aloud by students at an annual commemoration ceremony. Kleinrensink: “We’re organising this ceremony for the third time. There is a great deal of enthusiasm and support for it and each year we have 150 to 175 students who want to participate. We’ve seen how emotional it is for them and that prompted us to act.”

New projects

The only project currently on Erasmus University’s crowdfunding website is a somewhat less successful Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship initiative. New crowdfunding initiatives are expected starting this coming March.