There’s money for the taking — if you know where to look and who to ask.
Crowdfunding services like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe are helping students by providing alternative funding sources for a multitude of needs.
They help pay for everything from a graduating film student’s senior project about an amateur taxidermist haunted by the animals he’s stuffed, a semester abroad or even a student’s tuition.
Tea enthusiast Emilie Holmes posted her tea van project on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and raised over 14,000 British Pounds (GBP) in 25 days from 372 backers, most of whom she didn’t know and doesn’t have to pay back.
At first glance, Kickstarter seems limited to specific types of projects: movies, consumer products, physical goods. This is true for many, if not most of the projects, as it’s a “funding platform for creative projects.”
Alexander Werbickas graduated in 2012 with a BFA in industrial design from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and looked to Kickstarter to fund development of an iPhone case he had concieved with other students.
“As a recent grad it is tough to get the exposure and funding for a great idea,” said Werbickas, 25, from Marlton, N.J. “Crowdfunding makes this possible for anyone.”
Their project — ZOpro, a camera-mount and integrated charging case for the iPhone 5 — raised $20,925 on Kickstarter, surpassing their $15,000 goal.
The team then launched a campaign on Indiegogo — a platform that allows anyone to start a campaign for just about anything — where they’ve raised $1,071 of their $10,000 goal as of this writing.
“Crowdfunding sources are among the many marketing tools discussed in SCAD’s classrooms,” said Ian Leslie, interim managing director of interactive communications and social media at SCAD.
For a college with students that are relying on funding for creative projects, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo make sense. The school even partnered with Kickstarter two years ago to dedicate and curate a page for all its students’ projects.
Except crowdfunding isn’t just for creative types.
Last year alone, about $2.8 billion was raised by all types of crowdfunding websites in 2012, USA TODAY recently reported.
“Around the world there is almost a perfect storm when it comes to funding for projects in the education sector,” said Jonathan May, CEO of Sponsorcraft, a UK-based company that provides crowdfunding for higher-education.
Families, too, feel the financial pressures that often arise when they try and support those who are advancing through their education. That’s where a service such as ScholarMatch comes in.
ScholarMatch allows anyone to contribute to a high school senior’s higher education. Through crowdsourcing, donors can support scholarship programs for under-resourced students applying to colleges.
For students already attending school, crowdfunding may be the answer to your dream of spending a semester abroad.
With just $160 pledged toward his $8,000 goal and 31 days remaining, he acknowledged that it’s going to be hard work hit his target, but that’s just part of the game.
“I think we’re all in the same boat,” he said. “Crowdfunding is practically built for our broke age group, but that doesn’t make it effortless or foolproof.”
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