Crowdfunding: Empowering Student Fundraisers

Innovation Profile #3

Topics: Student Affairs, Fundraising, Advancement, Student and Young Alumni Fundraising

Mona Mogahed

Molly O'Connor, Senior Consultant

Shrinking enrollments, reduced state appropriations, and rising costs are just a few of the financial pressures institutions are currently facing. Beyond these institutional pressures, divisions of Student Affairs often face additional challenges in securing funding internally. Unfortunately, it is often student activities and programming that are the first to lose funding when cuts become necessary.

It’s probable that in the years ahead, Student Affairs won’t be able to rely on traditional sources of funding, and will need to look for alternative sources of revenue to maintain their current levels of staffing and programming. Luckily, many student organizations and activities often have natural affinity groups to target for donations, and a lot of capacity to fundraise, both of which can be leveraged to find alternate sources of revenue for underfunded organizations.

Case Study: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

As an initial foray into the fundraising space, a number of schools have begun to experiment with crowdfunding, leveraging its popularity and ability to mobilize young people outside of higher education. There are many possibilities for using crowdfunding in higher education, especially for student initiatives and faculty research.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) started a student crowdfunding campaign known as the weR Gold Initiative.

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The institution uses a custom-built iModules platform to empower student organizations to fundraise for their own projects. It was relatively inexpensive—RPI paid less than $10,000 to get the whole program up and running, including promotional materials.

2014 pilot year results

  • 75% of participating student organizations received full funding
  • 800+ donors to weR Gold Projects
  • $37,000+ donated to weR Gold Projects

Read the Full Innovation Profile

Interested in learning more about Rensselaer's weR Gold Initiative? Download the full profile and start brainstorming ideas for your own crowdfunding intiative.

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