5 Advantages of Crowdfunding in Higher Ed You May Not Have Considered

You likely already know some of the perks of crowdfunding in higher education. These benefits – such as engaging young alumni, inspiring new donors, and adding a new tool to your fundraising toolbox – are probably why you were drawn to crowdfunding in the first place.

But what lesser-known advantages could crowdfunding have in store for you?


1. Gain optics into what your donors care about

When speaking with our partners about their big picture fundraising strategies, many of them share with us that the power of crowdfunding is that they are able to marry it with their other efforts. Crowdfunding allows better insight into what their donors care about so that the institution can tailor future appeals to their interests.

At ASU, for example, crowdfunding donors are added to their Annual Fund call database. These are “discovery-style” conversations where student callers are given the opportunity to thank donors for giving to the crowdfunding campaign and then ask what inspired them to make the gift. The donor’s response can then give the school better optics into how to engage that donor down the road.

“We’re learning what they’re interested in, and we can connect them to a larger program. [Crowdfunding] is a great discovery tool.” – Shad Hanselman, ASU’s Assistant Vice President of Advancement Development


2. Build relationships with your students

Dr. Gottman’s balance theory proposes that a healthy relationship requires five times as many positive interactions as negative ones. This is the magic 5:1 ratio, and Dr. Gottman says that it is paramount to any positive relationship.

What if your students require five times as many positive experiences as negative ones with their school in order to establish a sense of trust and affinity?

Providing students on your campus with the opportunity to crowdfund means that you are bridging the gap between your office and your students, and this is, of course, a positive experience. And as we know, those same students will become your future alumni – the same young alumni demographic you are working to engage today.

There is no better time to engage students in your fundraising efforts than right now. Not only will they embark in real-world philanthropy by crowdfunding as part of their educational experience, but you can also take this opportunity to share with them the importance of giving back.

We recommend looking ahead by employing the 5:1 ratio with your students today to gain the advocates of tomorrow. Plus, you never know what your students might teach you in the process!


3. Liberate your Annual Fund

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: Crowdfunding in higher education frees up unrestricted gifts so those dollars can support other institutional needs.

Your Annual Fund does a lot of work for your institution, and crowdfunding can optimize its value by allowing it to support even more initiatives. Instead of dipping into the Annual Fund to financially support student organizations and projects on campus, you now have an alternative: empower them to crowdfund!

Not only will this give your Annual Fund a breather, it will also give your students the opportunity to participate in project-based learning in order to grow their community to help sustain their organization or group.

Two birds, one stone!


4. Unlock educational experiences for donors

Several months back I spoke with Taylor Strayton, Assistant Director of Young Alumni at the University of Miami, after attending a conference together. She shared the following insight with me about crowdfunding in higher education: “[Students] will attract donors by making their philanthropy a learning experience. […] Therefore, you aren’t just gaining donors, you are gaining advocates. They can be lifelong connections.”

I remember being blown away by the idea of students as experts and as teachers.

When you unlock crowdfunding on your campus, you are allowing others to showcase what they are passionate and knowledgeable about. Your students have the power to educate donors around their unique expertise, and thus, a donor embarks on a meaningful educational experience that ties directly to their philanthropy and their relationship with your institution.


5. Boost your brand

Crowdfunding says that you’re innovative and that you’re not afraid to try new solutions for higher education’s pressing needs. You’re a force to be reckoned with, breaking new ground and creating powerful experiences for your students and donors alike. And this list isn’t inclusive of everything crowdfunding says about your institution. Not even close.

It’s always exciting for us to celebrate our partners’ achievements, and we especially love this one: our first partner, Arizona State University, was named most innovative school in the US in 2015. Crowdfunding, along with other meaningful initiatives, has propelled ASU to their rightful place as innovation leaders – a brand for which they should be immensely proud!

We hope crowdfunding at your school unlocks all of these lesser known advantages, all of the popular advantages, and all of the advantages we’ve yet to uncover!



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