Crowdfunding for a course-related project, club or society
Are you putting on a fashion show and need more materials? Are you a geography student and want to conduct research that involves you traveling to another country? Are you part of a society and need some extra funding to organise events and social activities? Crowdfunding can help you fund pretty much any project!
Crowdfunding is a large group of people, each making an individual donation to fund a project or cause. It uses the power of the internet and social networks to give people the means to fund a project, venture or overcome hardship. A crowdfunding platform is used to start a fundraising campaign in which a target amount to be fundraised is set.
It works great for university students, as there are many people who want to see you succeed such as your family, friends and alumni. You can also attract organisations that may be interested in your project. Successful crowdfunding projects also provide for impressive CV content as it demonstrates your commitment, marketing skills and the ability to apply yourself to get results.
What are the different types of crowdfunding?
There are 4 main types of crowdfunding. We recommend:
- Donations-based: Funds are charitable. There is no promise to re-pay anything or ownership stake.
- Rewards-based: Donors can earn rewards based on the amount they donate. Typically, a form of the product or service. This is a great option if you want to launch a business or fund a creative project.
Other types of crowdfunding:
3. Equity-based: Donors can receive shares in return for contributions
4. Debt-based: interest payments in exchange for contributions
All-or-nothing vs flexible crowdfunding
Crowdfunding projects are funded in two ways:
- All-or-nothing crowdfunding: you will only receive the funds if your campaign or project meets its minimum goal. If it does not meet its goal within the deadline, the donors will be refunded their pledges. Be careful with this because if you set your target too high, you could end up with nothing.
- Flexible crowdfunding: the creator keeps all funds donated whether or not the campaign meets its funding goal within the deadline.
Choosing a crowdfunding platform
The crowdfunding platform you choose will have a major impact on your project’s success. When choosing, make sure to consider the following features:
- A site that adopts safe crowdfunding practices with donor protection. Including, encrypting credit card data, using an up-to-date SSL certificate and having a refund guarantee.
- Platform and payment processing or transfer fees.
- A crowdfunding site specifically designed for your fundraiser, as some sites are better suited for different projects. This table can be used as a guide to help you pick a platform – please check the platform’s terms & conditions for the most up-to-date fees:
|Platform||Raised||Fees||Project type||Crowdfund type||Notes|
5% platform fee
3-5% payment processing fee
Great for creatives and art projects
2 week wait to withdraw funds
||Tech projects||Rewards based||
||All but charity focused||Unknown||
Top tips for a successful project
1. Plan your project
Create a rough plan and brainstorm your network – you can use a mind map to help you. Begin to create a plan of all the communications that will happen throughout your campaign. You can consider the following questions: Who are you? What are you trying to do? What difference will it make? How are you going to do it? How will the funds be used? What is your target outcome?
Hubbub has an excellent mind map tool and guide on how to plan and promote your project (pdf).
2. Create a catchy title and description
The more information people have on where the funds are going to and what difference their donation will make, the more inclined they are to support you! Consider addressing the questions in the tip above, to help you write a meaningful description.
3. Use photos and videos
Photos are a crucial component of your campaign. Without them, it will be hard to convey a story and convince people to give to your project. Similarly, one of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving success is to make a video. Kickstarter found that projects with videos are 147% more likely to achieve their funding targets.
GoFundMe has a brilliant guide on how to create a great video.
4. Use social media to grow your reach
Social media is key to a successful campaign! Start by sending a friendly, personal message to family and friends which includes a link to your project. Once you begin to get donations, your project will look more credible to other sponsors and you can begin to reach outside of your immediate network.
IndieGoGo has great tips on how you can use the different social media platforms.
5. Provide updates throughout your campaign
To keep your sponsors engaged, remember to share project developments and achievements. This can be anything from pictures of you working on your project, behind the scenes pictures, as well as any milestones you hit.
6. Consider using rewards-based crowdfunding
Rewards are what you give your supporters in return for their donations. It’s great for creative projects if you’re an art or fashion student, or if you want to start a business! Kickstarter found that projects with small rewards are 83% more likely to be successful than those without.
Hubbub has created a guide on everything you need to know about rewards based crowdfunding (pdf).
7. Get in contact with relevant organisations or journalists
Some organisations may genuinely be interested in your project. For example, if you are conducting primary research on the ecological impacts of a negative externality, a charity might be able to support you. If you are creating a brand new product, a company in that industry might be interested in supporting you. Reach out by sending a short message or email explaining: Who you are, what you are doing and how it can help or benefit their organisation.
8. Get in contact with the alumni association
9. Get in contact with beepurple
beepurple is your university entrepreneurship support service. If you are crowdfunding to start a business, contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on your project. They also have lots of ways to support your start-up including one-to-one business support, workshops, competitions, courses and networking opportunities.