CrowdFunding: Is it for your School?

June 27, 2014 — 4,071 views  

CrowdFunding: Is it for your School?

Teachers and school districts have long lamented a shortfall in funding for all kinds of projects and field trips, and they've historically looked to fill in the gaps with fundraisers that sell everything from candy to pizzas and much more. That's still an excellent way for schools to raise money and supply students with great educational resources, but it's no longer the only way to fundraise in an academic environment. In recent years, a trend known as "crowd funding" has taken the entrepreneurial world by storm.

This process involves setting up an online campaign that encourages small donations from online visitors to fund a specific project or idea. The person collecting those donations often allows donors insight into how the funds are being used and how each contribution is helping to move the project forward. Teachers can benefit from this trend as well, securing financing for school supplies, field trips, academic events, assemblies, and scores of other experiences for today's students.

Getting Started: Find a Cause Worth Contributing To

Parents, students, and community members are often eager to support schools in any way they can. The most common problem, however, is that it's not clear exactly what a school needs and how any contributions will be used to further that specific goal. This is where crowd funding succeeds. Online websites like Kickstarter allow teachers to create a list of expenses for things like field trips, classroom supplies, or even high-tech tools. They allow for a paragraph or two that explains why these items or experiences are needed, how students will directly benefit, and how the school's performance and compliance with state standards will improve as a result.

To succeed in this venture, first come up with a clear item that needs to be funded. Then, make sure to explain the how, why, when, and where of this opportunity. Make sure that potential donors know why they should donate and exactly how their contribution will be used.

Reach Out to Others and Build Awareness of the Campaign

Schools that make the best of their crowd funding opportunities are those that enlist the help of students, parents, and community members. Many schools, like the Los Angeles school that used a Kickstarter campaign to fund a robotics course and a unique laboratory environment for students, create a sort of competition among students. They create opportunities for students to canvass for their own donations, usually by turning each homeroom or classroom into a "team." The team with the most donations gets a reward when the goal is met, in addition to the actual field trip, assembly, or supplies that will be put into use as a result.

Crowd Funding is a Perfect Fundraising Supplement for Today's Schools

Crowd funding certainly won't solve every funding problem of today's schools. The idea does, however, present a real opportunity to make field trips, projectors, art supplies, musical instruments, and other key parts of the educational experience, more affordable overall. Those schools who know how to engage the community, drive student participation, and clearly communicate about their funding requirements, will be those most likely to succeed with this high-tech venture.