Peer-to-Peer Crowdfunding: Higher Education’s Brine Shrimp

A quick setup: I have been reading The Generosity Network this month, which seeks to transform traditional fundraising practices by empowering fundraisers with new tools and powerful insights.

At the beginning of the book, we are told a story of elementary students who welcomed a tank of brine shrimp into their classroom. Soon, when the novelty of these new creatures wore off, the kids began to neglect the brine shrimp, resulting in the death of all but one. (At this point I paused and wondered why the teacher hadn’t intervened, but let’s not let that detract from the narrative here.)

When the children became aware that only one shrimp remained, something interesting happened: their attention became fixated on this single shrimp. They appreciated it. They cared for it. They anthropomorphized it.

The survival of this last shrimp mattered.

This story showcases the the social psychology of connection. We desire to make an impact in the world around us, but with so many causes vying for our attention, it isn’t a surprise that we tune them out completely.

Enter Peer-to-Peer fundraising. Or in our case, Peer-to-Peer crowdfunding.

Peer-to-Peer crowdfunding is what we believe to be the single most underutilized and the single most powerful tool in the world of higher education fundraising. It is a grassroots effort of the students, faculty, and staff on your campus to reach out to their personal networks on behalf of a cause they care about.

Communicating authentically like this facilitates relationships, connects and engages potential donors, and creates a culture of philanthropy on your campus.

Peer-to-Peer crowdfunding strips away the noise.

Peer-to-Peer crowdfunding is the single brine shrimp.

It whispers to and awakens the hearts of the disinterested, the aloof, the turned off.

And when we fear cannibalization of the annual fund through smaller, targeted crowdfunding efforts, consider that maybe the single shrimp is what teaches the children to love and appreciate all brine shrimp. Perhaps next time they would care for the group, because they now understand the power of supporting one.

Maybe your donors will have the same revelation about your annual fund when you empower your campus with crowdfunding.

Maybe you will, too.

Interested in learning more? Let's talk