State of Crowdfunding in Higher Education

This past Saturday, progressive university educators and administrators throughout the country attended the Crowdfunding in Higher Education Symposium in Philadelphia.  The goal of the symposium was to bring to light the power of crowdsourcing in scholastic communities, especially as more and more colleges and universities are beginning to use crowdfunding and crowdvoting initiatives to empower students.

In many ways, universities are the original crowdfunders.  Reaching out to alumni to give back to the university or college is a form of crowdfunding that has worked successfully for hundreds of years.  Crowdfunding platforms, such as that of Launcht’s, more efficiently drives online fundraising by providing a space for specific projects or initiatives to tell their stories.  These platforms help to turn ideas into reality and increase the success rate of student entrepreneurs by not only connecting students to funders, but also mentors and advisors.

Launcht has become a leader in providing crowdfunding platforms for universities and colleges throughout the United States.  We have built crowdvoting platforms for various competition-based initiatives for Middlebury College, Utah Valley University, and Southern Illinois University, and a crowdfunding platform for the University of Vermont.  These crowdsourcing platforms have been largely successful because they have helped fuel creativity, encourage entrepreneurship, and bring in funding where it is most needed at these universities.

While the overall funding amount may be low in the pilot years for university crowdfunding platforms, participation and re-engagement rate with lapsed and young donors is high.  Crowdfunding is a strategy to increase alumni participation numbers, engage new segments of the college community, and support target fundraising initiatives on campus.

Crowdfunding at the university level is not only contained to student and/or entrepreneurial initiatives.  There are a number of crowdfunding platforms in the college and university space that support academic research, technological innovation, and scholarships.  These platforms include:

  • USEED: began at the University of Delaware and focuses on entrepreneurship programs
  • Innovocracy.org: focuses exclusively on academic researchers who develop products that will benefit society
  • Microrzya: supports smaller, seed-stage research projects
  • TechMoola: is technology focused and covers eight categories – energy, electronics, medical, communications, WebTech, computer hardware, software, and games
  • Fundageek: deals with commercial projects based on technology and scientific research projects at universities and research institutions
  • UFunded: not officially partnered with any school, but accepts projects from universities throughout the country
  • BrainFund: is a site for students in 200 colleges and universities to crowdfund scholarships
  • UpStart: works with universities and colleges primarily in New England and serves both undergraduate and graduate student intiatives
  • UStartups: focuses primarily on university science and engineering products

The Launcht platform is unique from other university crowdfunding sites because our white label solution allows our university partners to brand their own platforms, keep their data, and engage new segments of their network.  If you are interested in creating your own platform for your university, check out the Launcht white-label offering here.

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