Fund-Raising and the Independent Scholar
By Bryan Caplan
Think tanks, like universities, may be ripe for disintermediation.
Although I think my writing for Cato helped my personal brand, I would
rather be viewed as an independent scholar. I view scholars as personal
brands, and I do not think that affiliation with a think tank adds
anything to their personal brands.
I can think of one thing that think tanks add to personal brands: economies of scale in fund-raising. How many independent scholars manage to support themselves on donations? Almost none. How many think tanks manage to support themselves on donations? Almost all.
Fund-raisers are selling affiliation. And affiliating with a team of scholars is a lot more satisfying for the typical donor than affiliating with lone wolves.