4 Ideas for Marketing a Crowdfunding Program to College Students

One of the most daunting challenges in launching a Crowdfunding Program is marketing it to students. Many times, our Crowdfunding Directors don’t have immediate access or influence over their school’s student population. But this doesn’t make marketing to them impossible – just a worthwhile challenge that should be strategically considered before launching a Crowdfunding Program.

To kick off your marketing efforts, here are four strategies that our partners have implemented on their campuses that worked.

Buy ad space in their student portal

There is one place you can be 100% certain that every student on your campus will interact with throughout their college career: Their student portal. Student portals are online gateways that provide all students with information on courses, transcripts, exam schedules, services, and relevant communication from the institution.

Arizona State University Foundation, one of USEED’s first clients, saw that their Student Portal was an excellent way to directly reach their student population. Therefore, the ASU Foundation purchased ad space in the portal to direct students in need of funding for their school-related projects and causes to Pitchfunder – their Crowdfunding Program’s website.

So consider leveraging the student portal to communicate to students on a large-scale. After all, it is really the only access point you have to every student at your school!

Present to your target audience

For a more human approach, invite students (and other campus leaders) to learn more about crowdfunding through a customized presentation and Q&A session.

When kicking off your program, you’re going to want to target the most influential people on your campus to learn more about it. This could be students themselves or even faculty or staff members who are rooted in the lives of students cross-campus.

The better you know your ideal personas, the more effective your presentation will be for them. We also recommend incentivizing the group however it best makes sense. For examples, if it’s a group of students, you could incentivize them with food (mmm pizza!) or a donation to their crowdfunding campaign when it launches.

Many of our partner institutions, such as Lipscomb University and Rochester Institute of Technology, leverage presentations as a way to connect their community to their program. USEED can even help you host them virtually, should you want additional resources or support!

Go where they live: social media

A whopping ninety percent of college students use social media, according to a 2015 PEW Research Center Study, so we recommend that you use social media to your advantage in order to grow your program. Your office might have a social media presence, but you’re going to want to go even bigger.

Your office might have a social media presence, so start there; however, you’re going to want to go even bigger. Consider partnering up with your Marketing and Communication (MarCom) team on campus in order to extend your program to a larger audience. You can also partner with influential groups on campus with large social media followings to reach out to their student followers about the opportunity. In whichever ways you can create an online buzz around your new program, go for it!

It’s important to know that students today are primarily looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so make your presence known on these specific platforms in order to reach the largest population!

Empower students to market to students

Your students are your greatest allies for your Crowdfunding Program. They are influential among their peers and have diverse networks that you may never be able to access without them. We highly recommend leveraging students themselves to market your Crowdfunding Program to their peers.

There are two primary approaches you may want to consider for implementing student-led marketing across your campus:

1. Partner with past crowdfunding campaigners

The most effective voices for your program are the ones who have participated in it and see its value. If the Crowdfunding Program has already been established and has had even a few campaigners, then consider going to the shining stars and asking for help.

Recently, a student from the University of Washington reached out to us after she had successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign. She wanted to help grow the program because she had a great experience in it and believed in its mission to empower students to fundraise for their passion projects, trips, and causes. Today, she is working with USEED and UW to market the program and spread awareness on campus in order to grow it.

2. Hire a student intern

Most Advancement and Development offices have Phonathon programs, whereby students call alumni and friends of the school to ask them to make a donation to it. These paid interns learn valuable skills while providing a much-needed service to the institution, and often, these students move on to being full-time employees of the institution post-graduation.

Similarly, you can hire student interns to grow your crowdfunding program. Arizona State University, for example, hires Crowdfunding Account Managers. Also known as CAMS, these students identify potential crowdfunding campaigns and then steward those campaigners through the pipeline to success. ASU would be the first to tell you that their Crowdfunding Program would not be at the scale it is today without their interns!

So never underestimate the power of a grassroots movement through your students on campus. Your early campaigns may hold the key to scaling your program!

We wish you all the best as you grow your Crowdfunding Program. And, as always, we’re forever eager to support you!


Kristen Gluch | Director of Content Development

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