How you can support Mendus without paying a dime more than you already do
I started Mendus when I was on paternity leave from my job at the Max Planck Institute. I wanted a way to explore my own ME/CFS issues which were escalating and which I feared would reduce my ability to care for my new son. The project has exceeded my expectations with many people writing to tell me how it has helped get them on the right track. However, as we grow (we've just topped 1000 members) it is taking more and more time. I fear I will not be able to sustain the site unless I can get some return for the massive time investment. You see, I'm doing this completely voluntarily.
To see if I can make the site work with the ever increasing demands on my time and resources I've equipped Mendus with affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission when products are purchased through the links and advertisements. This does not change the price that you pay for the products at all. The products don't even need to be related to what we do on the website. A small percentage of each purchase price will help support the ongoing research and work we're doing here. You can read more about my views on advertising below.
I've started collecting links to various shops on the Shop 4 Mendus page. If you currently purchase products online and would like to know whether I am an affiliate of the company you use send me an email at (firstname.lastname@example.org). Most online vendors belong to one of several large affiliate networks and it may simply require officially making a connection with that company to allow you to purchase your products through Mendus. This would not change anything for you. You would still use the same company and pay the same price while at the same time allowing Mendus to continue.
I greatly appreciate each and every penny that makes Mendus possible,
MY VIEW ON ADVERTISING
I've been asked many times now, "Where do you get your funding?" My answer has baffled people. Mendus is not funded... at all. Yes, it's hard for many people to believe we could run a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (with 2 different disorders) for a grand total of about $20 but it's true.
To be accurate the site is now officialy 'funded' but out affiliate program hasn't made much more than $20 either! As I mentioned above the website and all that is done here is consuming more and more of my time and I doubt I'll be able to continue unless this becomes a permanent job... with pay. Our affiliate program has the potential to make a modest income through the ads that I've included on various pages. These ads are primarily for products relating to studies we're running though I've now opened Shop 4 Mendus where you'll be able to shop for pretty much anything. When clicking on one of our ads you'll be brought to that store (for example Amazon.com). When members purchase products we earn a small commission for referring you. Nothing changes for you the buyer, except the knowledge that you've helped keep this initiative alive. In the future I hope to also feature more traditional ads which companies, with appropriate content, would pay for. My hope is that one day the revenue from the affiliate program and these ads will at least cover the operating costs of the website and some of my time.
Some people, it turns out, consider this inappropriate. To those people I would ask that you to kindly hear me out.
What this arrangement amounts to is this. The companies providing these ads are making possible the research which YOU want done. Where else does that happen? Normally you do not have any say as to what research is done. Either the research you want to see a) doesn't get done, b) is done incredibly slowly through academia or c) is done from within the pharmaceutical companies own labs. By spending their advertising dollars here, or reimbursing me for referring customers, they are enabling you to be involved in the research process. I think that is valuable.
Furthermore, personal opinions aside, many of these supplements/drugs might actually be of use to our members. After all, these people (you) have come here for a reason, you're dedicating your time for a reason. At the very least, having these products advertised will raise awareness of what treatment options currently exist. I think what we have here is a win/win situation. Patients are provided with the most current options available to them and the companies selling these products reach the individuals who need their products the most. At the same time they provide (theoretically!) the funding necessary for the website to run, to allow the patients' ideas to be turned into research questions, and analyzed, interpreted and presented by trained scientist(s). All in all I think it will make a wonderful complement to the way existing research operates.
As a final note for the skeptic or critic. I invite you to take a look at my research profile. This should demonstrate that I am not simply pro-pharmaceutical. I have done extensive research in the field of pain with the specific aim of giving people an alternative to drugs. My opinion is one of balance, moderation where possible, and pragmatism. When I have a migraine, I don't just WANT an analgesic I NEED it! Drugs and even supplements can undoubtedly be overused and abused but they are often the only option if one wants to have a livable existence. The plain truth is, in the case of chronic fatigue syndrome at least, there isn't much that works consistently, if anything. That is actually the reason for developing this site. The most commonly used treatment options seem to be pharmaceuticals or supplements. And if this is what is required, at this stage of the game, to get out of bed and live some kind of life, then I am okay with that. But of course I respect your opinion if you feel differently.
If you feel really strongly that this endeavour should not be supported through advertising than you can offset that contribution by donating yourself at the link below!
All the best,