Crowdfunding is no longer a higher ed fundraising fad, but a proven asset in the advancement toolbox. Hundreds of universities learned that crowdfunding is a highly effective way to reconnect with alumni and develop philanthropic relationships with parents, students, and friends.

With crowdfunding more prevalent than ever, the initial excitement a donor experiences by donating to a crowdfunding campaign for the first time may not be enough to get them to support future projects. Crowdfunding strategies must become more sophisticated to continue reaching your goals.

Here are five strategies that will improve your crowdfunding efforts:

1. Ask Donors to Join Your Crowdfunding Email List
On your donation page, include a checkbox for donors to subscribe to a crowdfunding email list. Send subscribers regular updates about current, past, and future campaigns. Bonus: They can easily forward these emails to potential donors.

At Duquesne University, we were pleased to see hundreds of donors subscribe. As a result, a number of charitable donors crossed-over and donated to other projects featured on the platform. Plus, it’s another great touch point throughout the year to retain donors.

2. Form a Campus Crowdfunding Committee
A crowdfunding committee that consists of members from across campus – academics, athletics, student life, development, etc. – can be a great resource that provides numerous benefits. They can help determine which projects are worthy of launching, serve as campus ambassadors for each of your campaigns, and recommend to your office potential crowdfunding projects.

3. Create Social Media Accounts for Your Crowdfunding Efforts
While you certainly want to work with your central communications office to utilize flagship social media accounts to promote your campaigns, it can be effective to create accounts specifically for your crowdfunding platform, like UCLA did. This allows you to develop a passionate and charitable audience that is interested in supporting your efforts by donating or spreading the word about all of your campaigns.

At Duquesne, we use Facebook and Twitter to promote our campaigns and feature post-campaign posts that show donations in action. Additionally, it’s a great resource for our project ambassadors to easily share/retweet updates. Don’t forget: tag people associated with the campaign on Facebook to increase the reach of your posts.

4. Stay Connected with the GroupMe App
Students, faculty, and staff are inundated with e-mails. In order to cut through that noise and make sure they are receiving important information and updates regarding a campaign, consider setting up a GroupMe with your project managers. This free group messaging app allows you to send updates to your team, provide encouragement, and stay in touch after the campaign has ended.

5. Reach Out to the Lesser Known Areas of Campus
Many universities take the safe road and put the crowdfunding spotlight on well-known campus organizations due to its likelihood of being a successful campaign. You certainly should do that, but don’t be afraid to reach out to lesser known organizations.

An example of this at Duquesne was with our Equestrian team. Although this club sport had been around for years, few on campus even knew the team existed. No official list of past student-riders was available, so initially family and friends were the only potential donors. Through promotion on social media, word started to spread and Equestrian team alumnae learned of the crowdfunding project, which helped to offset the expensive costs for students to be on the team.They were not only happy to donate, but also pleased to see the team was receiving overdue attention. By the end of the campaign, the team raised 124% of their goal, re-connected with lost alumni, developed a donor base for future campaigns, and were featured in the student newspaper.


While the basic fundamentals of crowdfunding must always be applied for a campaign to be successful, applying advanced concepts can help drive your overall crowdfunding efforts. Not only will the reputation of your institution’s crowdfunding platform increase, but so will those donor counts.


David Jakielo is an Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Duquesne University. Read his previous article, “5 Things I Learned from My First Day of Giving.”



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