How Students Can Crowdfund For School

There’s a science to raising money for school.  After several years helping students fundraise their education expenses through crowdfunding, our Founder has discovered that donors give more when they:

    • Can confirm the student they are giving to is enrolled in school;
    • Read a compelling story/narrative;
    • Can give directly to the school;
    • Can make recurring donations;
    • Receive communications from the student during the off-season;
    • Are asked for a donation before the deadline; and
    • Aren’t given a reason NOT to give (hint: your social media presence can make a difference here).

CauseEDU was founded as a way to help students raise the most money for school. We require enrollment verification so that donors know they are giving to actual students (this was one of the primary concerns donors had when giving through other crowdfunding platforms). If you are not enrolled in school when you begin fundraising (for instance, if you’re a high school senior raising money for college, or a college student or professional raising money for graduate school), we hold the funds until you either provide us with an acceptance letter or enrollment verification for your school (send an acceptance letter if you want the funds to be sent directly to your school for tuition deposits; wait until you’re enrolled if you want to receive the funds directly).
For the compelling narrative, it helps to tell donors why you are raising money and how the program you’re raising money for will benefit you – for instance, if you’re studying abroad, talk about why you’re interested in the city you’re visiting. If you’re raising funds for law school, talk about what impacted your decision to become a lawyer.
Giving donors options increases giving, too. From our experience, donors who had the option of giving directly to the student’s school gave significantly more. Recurring donations also make it easier for donors to give, especially if they can make smaller gifts over time (for instance, $25/month isn’t a lot of money for a donor, but to a student it’s $300/year. The donor might otherwise have only given $100 in a one-time gift).
Communicating regularly is just as important. We’ve had donors decline to make a repeat gift the following year because they never heard from the students after they gave the first time. If you receive a donation, send a thank you note to your donor, then follow up with another thanks at the end of the semester (don’t ask for more money; just thank them). Give them an update on leadership positions you have in school, or if it’s the end of the school year, let them know where you’re going for a summer internship. If you continue to build on the relationship, they’ll be more willing/excited to give when you come back the next year for more.
Don’t wait until the last minute to set up your campaign. Chances are you know in advance if you’ll have enough money for school. Waiting until a couple of weeks before a deadline doesn’t always give a donor enough time to consider how much they’re able or willing to give. If you start raising money in April when your tuition deadline is in June, for instance, that gives your donors enough time to consider what they can do and give without feeling rushed.
And as we mentioned in a blog post before, there are several reasons donors don’t give that are actually related to what they see online. If your narrative is that you can’t afford to finish school, reconsider posting that profile pic of you wearing a $500 designer jacket. We’re not saying you have to look destitute, but you definitely don’t want to overdo it. You also should make your social media accounts (facebook, twitter, etc) private if there’s anything that a donor might consider objectionable. This is a good practice anyway, especially if you’re looking for a summer internship, job, or graduate program soon.
In our several years of fundraising, these are the factors that mattered most when it came to donors giving to students (especially second degree donors – alumni of your school or fraternity/sorority, friends of friends, etc.). Make it easier for donors to give. Make it compelling for donors to give. They want to support you.