September 12, 2013
Internet technologies have become increasingly important in most universities’ marketing and communications plans. Social media has become a major player in the way today’s institutions of higher learning find not only students, but donors, volunteers, community partners and other important connections. One such internet technology, Crowdfunding, just might be the next big thing in university fundraising. So, what is Crowdfunding and how will it impact your college’s advancement strategy? These are just a couple of the questions we here at Higher Ed Hero set out to answer.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is the next logical step of crowdsourcing, which has already carved out a niche in the higher ed world. With Crowdfunding, any person, group or institution can solicit donations from a wide range of supporters for their respective cause or mission. This is casting the proverbial “wide net” and collecting many small fish in order to equal one large yield. The term Crowdfunding dates back as far a 2006, but didn’t really get started until the launch of Kickstarter, the largest Crowdfunding platform, in 2009. There are currently over 450 Crowdfunding platforms, with IndieGOGO and GoFundMe coming in 2nd and 3rd after Kickstarter.
What is its Use in Higher Education?
Crowdfunding has really become an avenue for artists and musicians to grow a following and gain financial support. Within the world of Higher Education, one of the main functions so far has been students and aspiring students paying for college expenses through a Crowdfunding campaign. Another aspect has been using Crowdfunding as an educational tool. At Cornell University, Crowdfunding platforms have been used to give students real-world, applicable, student entrepreneur opportunities.
But What About Crowdfunding in Advancement?
Some institutions have already begun augmenting their fundraising efforts with Crowdfuning, but by-in-large it has yet to fully breach the world of Higher Ed Advancement. This may soon change though as its most promising aspect, the ability to engage young and millennial donors, is just now being realized. Nonprofit and other charitable organizations outside of education have already begun leveraging the power of Crowdfunding to galvanize a concentrated effort of young donors. Crowdfunding is built off the concept of online social networking that is already well-established in today’s youth culture. This means that Crowdfunding holds the power of engaging potentially thousands or tens of thousands of donors. By asking those donors for small contributions the likelihood of boosting donations greatly increases. Because these small donations are pulled by such a large…well, crowd…the total sums are potentially massive.
Is Crowdfunding Here to Stay?
Like many of today’s online and social resources, Crowdfunding simply represents a new opportunity. What roads that opportunity will create and where those will lead is determined by the users that comprise the community. What is clear is that Crowdfunding is an exciting and promising way to gain a lot of support from a wide range of individuals. Perhaps one of its most promising features is the ability to find and engage new donors. Because Crowdfunding taps into the social networks of those who support it, the growth potential for any Crowdfunding campaign is potentially limitless. Therefore, while Higher Ed may only be dipping its toe in the Crowdfunding pool, many are saying the water feels just fine.