Great Social Media Idea: Crowdfunding in Higher Ed

Feeling a bit under the weather today, but it's "Fundraising with Social Media Week" here on the blog and I can't take the night off. So this post is going to be heavy on show and light on tell, which I'm sure will be a relief to the dozens of you (I'm being generous... so sue me!) who actually read this drivel. (Also, I've got the newest episode of Downton Abbey to watch. I love you, internet!)

Other schools have dipped their toes in the water of crowdfunding, but none have done it better than Cornell. Not only have they launched two wildly successful projects within the past month, two Big Red staff members heavily involved in the efforts are keeping blogs that are chock-full of great insight and insider info: Andrew Gossen's Higher Ed Crowdfunding and Keith Hannon's Social Matters. If you're interested in exploring this at your school, it's very, very worth your while to check those blogs out.

Cornell's two successful projects so far have been to raise funds for a campus garden and for an LGBTQ leadership academy. Right off the bat, you can see that these projects tap into strong affinity groups - sustainability and LGBTQ. For crowdfunding to work in higher ed, it needs to connect with alumni that are passionate about supporting a specific program or issue. It's not enough to run a campaign for unrestricted dollars to the general fund. It needs to connect emotionally with potential supporters, so much so that they will be willing to not only plunk down their own money but encourage their friends to do so as well.

Furthermore, it's important to select targets that have alumni who were heavily involve in those topics as student leaders. Pretty much every school has a sustainability club and an LGBTQ club; former student leaders of those clubs are natural supporters and ambassadors for such projects. Ditto for the parents of current students who are involved in those clubs.

But don't take my word for it... spend some time exploring what Cornell has done, checking out its crowdfunding hub page and reading the blogs I linked to above. This is something we are all going to have to dive into very soon - much better to be prepared for it than not.

MAJOR props to Cornell and its social media and development teams for their awesomely successful crowdfunding launch!!!

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