Funding

Northwestern U Students Turn to In-House Crowdfunding Platform for Projects

Northwestern University students are using an online crowdfunding tool to raise money for four nonprofit initiatives.

Taking advantage of Catalyzer, a tool powered by Scalefunder, a fundraising platform designed principally for educational institutions, student groups are using video, social media and written pitches to appeal online to alumni and supporters of the Evanston, IL university.

After potential donors view the students' pitches via social media, they can go online and make their donations electronically.
The annual student-written and -produced production of Waa-Mu is among the projects raising money online at Northwestern.

"The platform connects students to alumni, parents and friends of the university to address important challenges through philanthropy," said Northwestern University Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development Bob McQuinn.

University alumni relations and development staff members trained the students on the Catalyzer technology, but then turned the process over to them.

They spent about a month preparing their campaigns, which went live a little over a month ago and will last for another two weeks.

Each campaign offers donors and site visitors real-time updates on progress toward the fundraising goals, as well as updates on the projects themselves.

The four groups hoping to raise money are:

  • NU Threads is seeking $5,000 to provide professional and formal wear for students who need clothing for professional events;
  • Northwestern Crew is trying to raise $15,000 for the college rowing team to purchase two new boats;
  • Waa-Mu is trying to raise $10,000 for production costs of an annual student-written and performed musical; and
  • The International Student Association is seeking $4,000 for travel by students who want to help rebuilding efforts after an earthquake in Chincha, Peru.

The rowing team's fundraising effort was furthest along after 29 days — 56 percent toward its goal.

"Catalyzer will educate students about effective fundraising and help them develop a community of committed benefactors," McQuinn said.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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