Crowdfunding pilot tailored to university programs

A pilot program that takes the phenomenon of crowdfunding and tailors it to the unique needs of the ASU community is up and running with four student-led projects.

A joint project between online fundraising company USEED and the ASU Foundation for A New American University, asu.useed.net is designed to equip students to raise the funds they need to gain real-world experience outside the classroom, such as serving abroad, starting a company or creating a technology or work of art.

ASU is one of three universities participating in the pilot project, which reflects its commitment to innovation and to harnessing the size and power of its networks.

“At the ASU Foundation we always strive to connect ASU supporters and potential supporters to ways they can help solve challenges facing communities here and around the globe,” says R.F “Rick” Shangraw Jr., CEO of the foundation.

“Not only is our USEED partnership a great way to connect donors who are passionate about an issue with ASU students who are actively addressing it, it is a great way to teach those students how to use their networks to become successful philanthropists.

“And, the program allows everybody a chance to make a difference, whether it is $20 in support of a sustainability innovation or a $5,000 donation for a preservation idea.”

The four projects currently accepting donations showcase students who are committed to global and local issues, such as the need for clean drinking water in Kenya and Bangladesh, the development of solar-powered homes in the Southwest  and wildlife preservation right here in Arizona.

Asu.useed.net   is designed so visitors can easily learn about each project by viewing a video or reading about its goals and objectives. Viewers can see exactly how much funding each project needs and how to donate. They’ll receive email updates from students about the campaign’s progress and, if students reach their funding goal, the outcome of the project.

All donations go into ASU Foundation secure accounts, which are then directed to a specific program. Each account is overseen by a faculty representative, or sponsor, to ensure that funding stays with a program and supports the program’s primary objective.

Unlike other popular crowdfunding sites, asu.useed.net will allow fundraisers to keep donations even if they don’t meet their goal. If that happens, the money goes to the program that is sponsoring the project, so participants can apply it either to the featured project, or to another one.

A successful pilot means USEED and the foundation can offer students and educators a powerful online tool this fall that will enable them to tap into their social networks, generate a support base for their cause and raise funds quickly and efficiently.

Long-term, a successful university crowdfunding site will help the foundation cultivate a culture of philanthropy driven by front-line student fundraisers. It will build the next generation of philanthropists who know how to present their ideas to the public, network with supporters and make their projects a success.

“We look forward to building an online community where donors and students see the value in entrepreneurship and philanthropy and are able to actively participate and support a cause that touches their passion,” Shangraw says. “These are pillars of the New American University vision and our partnership with USEED will help us advance all of them.

“We feel strongly that a program like this advances a culture of philanthropy, and that’s good for our community and good for our future.”

While the foundation is underwriting projects for the pilot program, it will charge an as-yet undetermined fee to participants of the full-fledged program and will ask that they raise at least $5,000 for a project. Participation includes not only an online presence, but also training on how to develop a network of support and create messaging that will make their campaigns successful.

The limited number of spots available for this pilot program have been filled, but the ASU Foundation is maintaining a list of interested participants. Contact Tiffany Antor at 480-727-7120 or tiffany.antor@asu.edufor more information.