Raise Money With Crowdfunding: Top 9 Tips for Schools
With crowdfunding, individuals and organizations raise money for projects by collecting relatively small amounts of money from a large number of people, usually with the help of a Web site.
According to 2013CF-The Crowdfunding Industry Report, in 2012, crowdfunding services across 308 platforms supported more than one million projects and raised $2.7 billion. More than twice that amount is projected to be raised via crowdfunding in 2013.
As budgets tighten and programs get cut, schools are increasingly turning to this 21st-century method of fundraising. Many educators have experienced success with DonorsChoose.org, ClassWish and similar crowdfunding platforms.
David Brinza, Coach of FIRST Robotics Team 980 in Los Angeles and David Caroll, parent of a child on the Melbourne High School Crew team in Florida, have sung the praises of crowdfunding, noting that the revenue their schools generated via this method has far surpassed the amount generated by previous offline fundraisers.
Some charter schools have enjoyed even larger successes. Last year, the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C., raised $11,179 for a new gym during a three-month drive on StartSomeGood. On indiegogo, an international crowdfunding site, Chicago’s Academy for Global Citizenship charter school raised over $50,000 to support a Net-Positive Energy Campus.
Below are nine tips to help you make the most of this fundraising method:
Use crowdfunding for specific projects or needs, rather than general fundraising. Donors like knowing exactly how their money will be used, so select concrete and interesting outcomes that will engage potential contributors.
Identify a safe, flexible and transparent platform. Raise Money for Your School Using Crowdfunding compares platforms and offers tips on choosing the right one to meet your needs.
Start with reasonable goals and set your project up for success by assembling a workgroup (including students), assigning roles and persevering through challenges. Use lessons learned to be more effective with the next project.
Break large projects into smaller steps and creative a separate campaign for each. Keep campaigns short—a month or two at most—in order to maintain interest.
Prepare workgroup members to do intensive marketing via channels such as local media, social media, newsletters, blogs and email lists. Make a list of target audiences, identify key members of those audiences, and lean on those members to reach others in that particular audience (e.g., enlist PTA members to help you reach other parents). Work closely with a high-influence core group of project champions and ask them to reach out to their networks. When using social media, be sure to involve students (to whom social media use comes naturally) and post in the evening, when most people are online.
Marketing messages matter! Use videos with high production values, good-quality images and sharp copywriting to create an appealing pitch with which donors will connect emotionally. Appeal to positive school climate and aim to build a sense of community. Reinforce the message that “We can all be part of something great.”
Target different levels of donors (alumni, community members, parents, local business owners, etc.) and offer a range of giving options, but be prepared for mostly modest donations.
Consider offering rewards and incentives for larger contributors. Be sure to thank each and every donor, regardless of the size of the contribution.
Offer students leadership opportunities and take advantage of teachable moments. Crowdfunding efforts represent a great project-based learning opportunity, incorporating money skills, marketing, communications and creativity. Inspire entrepreneurial thinking and showcase the benefit of planning for long-term goals. And don’t forget to connect crowdfunding to microfinancing initiatives that address poverty and create global change. This video gives students a nice historical perspective on—and explanation of—crowdsourcing, including crowdfunding.
Need more advice? Raise Money for Your School Using Crowdfunding and Crowdfunding Tips for Students and Schools offer detailed guidance for schools looking to jump on the crowdfunding bandwagon.
Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
Copyright © 2014 Education World