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Crowdfunding Site Raising Capital for ASU Student Projects

A crowdfunding site affiliated with Arizona State University has ended its experimentation and opened up to the campus community. PitchFunder, as it's named, is run by ASU Foundation, a private, non-profit organization that raises money for Arizona State and provides funding to faculty, staff and students to allow them to pursue research and other projects.

Besides making the crowdfunding platform available, the foundation is also assisting those using it in helping them maximize their fundraising efforts.

Among the initiatives that have tested the platform is one intended to bring clean water to Bangladesh, another to teach empathy and still another to help send design students on a working spring break.

33 Buckets was led by engineering students who wanted to help the Rahima Hoque Girls College in rural Bangladesh, which faced closure owing to the illness incurred by students from its contaminated water. The school was founded by an Arizona State graduate who lives in the Phoenix area. Last summer, the student team began the first of several stages in setting up a water filtration system at the school using local resources and developing a business wherein the school could sell excess clean water to the local community. Eighty-two supporters helped the team raise its $10,000 goal.

The Forgiveness Tree has blown way past its $7,000 goal, raising more than $11,000 to send students into communities to teach people the power of learning how to forgive.

The ASU Graphic Design Students Association used PitchFunder to help pay the expenses of 50 students to spend spring break in Seattle, visiting and learning from professional design studios.

Unlike public crowdfunding services, the university version comes with assistance from foundation personal account managers to optimize fundraising efforts. "We are there for the client from concept through completion to answer questions, provide advice and experience and help focus and refocus the campaign whenever it's needed," said Shad Hanselman, the foundation's senior director of annual giving, who oversaw the creation of PitchFunder.

Added Dan Saftig, the foundation's chief development officer, the experience of working with the site also helps students and others learn skills that will be useful for them in the future by providing the training and experience "that will allow them to champion any project, any work throughout their careers. They can be as creative in generating support for their projects as they were in generating the original ideas."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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