Written by Keith Rowell
Last Updated: 29 March 2014

It's an astonishing fact that ufology, mostly because it has been shunned by establishment science and scholarship, is poor now, and always has been. Why is this? Isn't the study of UFOs just as legitimate as any other subject? Of course, it is. People reporting UFOs is no different in principle from people reporting a murder or traffic accident except that persistent physical evidence is sparse—sparse, not non-existent!

For every reported genuine UFO, which is about 10 to 20% of total reported UFOs, physical trace cases probably amount to one or two percent at best. Now this is not a lot, but when you consider the small amount of evidence natural scientists routinely think is adequate for study, then physical trace UFO evidence is not all that rare or even inconvenient to obtain and study. (According to Ted PhillipsPhysical Traces Associated with UFO Sightings: A Preliminary Catalog, there is plenty of evidence to study if only the establishment scientists and scholars had the will.)

UFOs Abandoned

When a field of study is avoided by the various establishments that comprise the leadership in a modern society, it turns out that very little time, money, or expertise is expended on it. This is true of ufology. Thus, we are poor.

How do we fix our poverty when all the usual sources of serious money are closed to us? It's not easy, but here are the sources:

Lots of Little Contributions

So far, ufology has succeeded in fits and starts over the past 60 or so years to attract small amounts of dollars from concerned citizens. Usually, citizen investigative groups are formed and offer memberships. Some groups like the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization were reasonably successful in their day and attracted perhaps as many as 10,000 members at their zenith. But, today, these two important investigative groups are a thing of the past. They have left a legacy of well-researched cases, but they, as active organizations, are gone.

Some other investigative groups have sprung up in the ensuing years such as the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies and the Fund for UFO Research. They have had some great successes in pursuing and funding research, but again serious money is hard to come by for any sustained period of time.

Oregon MUFON is part of Mutual UFO Network, Inc., which has seen its own financial ups and downs over the years, mainly correlated with how much coverage UFOs have in the mainstream media. Membership comes and goes. (For example, in 2008, MUFON had about 3000 members world-wide.) Citizens banding together can get a lot of good things done, but when it comes to huge projects or huge subjects (like the UFO), big money is needed. Lacking this, only so much can be done with small contributions by citizens.

A Few Big Ones

In the 1990s, ufology did see some "sugar daddies." And these millionaires (and a billionaire) did make some difference in the field, but their participation had its ups and downs, too.

Las Vegas land developer Robert Bigelow has been a real friend to ufology. He created and supported a research institute (National Institute for Discovery Science) that hired some credentialed scientists, and they did some very important work because the funding was adequate for good, serious work. (Today, in 2010, NIDS is shut down.)  Thank you, Robert Bigelow, for supporting important work in this field!  In 2009, Bigelow re-entered ufology by financially supporting a MUFON rapid response team for field investigations.  MUFON investigators are actually paid for this effort, which may be the first time ever that citizen ufologists have been paid for their efforts!  This is how sad the situation has been in ufology:  sixty years of volunteer efforts to try to solve this most intractable mystery when we should have had academia working on this problem from the beginning in 1947.

The late Laurance Rockefeller—yes, one of the Rockefellers—supported an important poll, conducted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, to determine how many UFO abductees there might actually be in the United States. Rockefeller also devoted some other money to ufology, but, again, the support was not long and sustained, which is what is needed for such a deep and complex subject.  (Rockefeller supported the effort to compile and write the UFO Briefing Document by Berliner and Huneeus, which was handed out to every member of Congress in the hope that it would get them to pay attention to UFOs instead of impeaching a president for inappropriate sexual behavior in the White House.  Such are our national priorities!)

Joe Firmage, a Silicon Valley millionaire, woke up one night to the revelations of an ethereal being in his bedroom. These revelations led him to create a 600 page work (The Truth) that rewrote the history of humankind and claimed that scientific truth and religious truth are really not at odds as they seem to be in the Western intellectual tradition. Firmage briefly appeared at some UFO conferences and then faded from the scene to go on to other futures-oriented pursuits that have brought him far less criticism than his brief involvement with UFOs.

The Selfish Entertainers

The entertainment industry has had a long history of borrowing from the cultural ideas surrounding the UFO. Sometimes there were even blockbuster films made with great production values such asThe Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A few films have made millions for their producers, but nary a penny has been spent from these sources on the serious side of UFOs in citizen-driven ufology. Some ufologists are bewildered by the fact that director Steven Spielberg, who made Close Encounters of the Third Kind, has profited handsomely from ufology but has returned essentially nothing to the field that would prove that reality is behind the underlying thesis in his movie.

And the same goes for virtually the entire entertainment industry with respect to their UFO-based entertainment works. Hundreds of thousands and even millions have been made and not a penny is returned in thanks to ufology. An exception was UFO author Whitley Strieber. He made some significant money and gave some to support ufology. Thank you, Mr. Strieber.

Become a Benefactor and Leave a Legacy

And now we come to you. We are poor and perhaps you are not. But we both have a real (and serious) interest in UFOs. If you've got some significant amounts of money to give away to serious UFO research, MUFON would like to hear from you.

Consider this: if you donate some significant amounts of money to ufology, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped bring the important truths about UFOs to a wider public by supporting further research and public education. And you will also know that few individuals have been brave enough to lend as much big time support as you have. Think about it. If everyone really knew what ufologists and abductees routinely live with, the world would be a significantly different place. UFOs are that important. And you could make this knowledge widely available with your generous contribution to ufology.

We have to be honest with you, however. Supporting ufology with significant amounts of money will not be good for your legacy. Your friends and relatives will think you are nuts. And if you haven't taken care of them (as you should), they are likely to be very angry with MUFON for getting the money that they think maybe they should have.

A word to the wise: be sure to be fair and just with your relatives, friends, and other worthy causes before you bestow any money on ufology. Ufology is important and certainly suffers from lack of funds, but even we "fanatic" ufologists take care of our relatives and friends before we donate to ufology.