Shadows of Evil
A group based on real academia, well at least one of the dark sides thereof. People get to the higher ranks by learning things that only they know or knowledge that can be directly traced back to them. Knowledge is out there to learn, and in some cases hoard. No information comes free, and usually specific knowledge must be replaced by an equal knowledge of the unknown.
That being said, The Laureate is usually the first to spend money for adventures provided they have an assigned member attending the mission. They are always on the lookout for ruins, dungeons, or any other place of origins unknown. Members are charged a fee to join and pay a stipend to the guild for all quests, any quest that the guild funds must be paid back either in knowledge or in the original funding for the mission. A veritable form of loan sharking, indeed.
Members do get access to some pretty amazing things. All spells from the PHB are available to learn provided that the guild member is in good standing. The libraries provide knowledge checks at a +4, and double any bonuses from the Research or like feats. Depending on the level of the character, labs are available to work with, providing as much as a 10% discount on all aspects of item creation.