Does Crowdfunding a University Degree really work?
If you have seen stories in the news and online about students who are funding their university degrees online through crowdfunding platforms, you may be wondering if it really works and if so, why isn’t everyone doing it?
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is basically a way of fundraising online by setting up a fundraising page and asking people to donate. You can use crowdfunding to try and raise money for anything from business ventures, to charitable projects, medical expenses, education, or anything else you need to raise money for.
You can share your page with family and friends and ask them to donate, or you can promote it more widely to the media, online and the wider public and see if any strangers might be willing to donate.
Why would people donate to my degree?
There are a number of reasons why people might donate to your campaign.
- They are friends and family who want to encourage and support your efforts.
- They might be keen to support students of a particular subject to encourage under-represented groups in to particular fields because it matters to them personally.
- Your particular circumstances resonate with them personally. Maybe you are struggling to overcome personal situations or rise above adversity and better yourself and someone will donate to support you because they have experienced a similar situation themselves.
- You are researching in a field they believe in.
How to create a good crowdfunding pitch
Marketing is about giving your customers what they want and the key to creating a good crowdfunding campaign is in the marketing. Think about the reasons why people might want to support you and put those reasons in to your pitch. “I can’t afford it” is not going to wash it, because nor can thousands of other students. What makes you different? How have you tried to help yourself? What has happened to you that makes your case more difficult? Are you unusual in what you are trying to achieve or are you breaking away from convention in any way? Do you have a passion and determination to change your life or achieve particular career aspirations?
These are the things that are going to inspire strangers to want to support your efforts. Appeal to people’s emotions, whether it resonates with their own experiences or aligns with their philanthropic beliefs and you will stand a better chance of achieving your fundraising goals.
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Raising £2,000 to cover your accommodation or living expenses is going to be easier than trying to raise the full £27,000 tuition fees for a three year course. If you set your goals realistically you are more likely to achieve them. If you set them too high and raise some of the money you will not get any of it because on the crowdfunding sites only give you the money when you achieve your target
Promoting your campaign
The more effort you put in to promoting your campaign, the more likely you are to be successful. Just posting your page on Facebook and expecting it to take off, unless you have thousands of friends who share it, will not be enough. Here are some other things you could do:
- Start a blog: write a blog about your crowdfunding campaign, make it about yourself and your journey to funding your degree. Share it widely and get people involved, keeping people who have pledged up to date with your achievements.
- Network: don’t just think about people who might see the campaign online. Tell everyone you meet what you are doing – aunts, uncle, cousins, friends, work colleagues. You never know who might be willing to support you. Don’t be reticent.
- Contact the media: in particular newspapers, radio stations and magazines that cover the local area to where you live, but also national media often like these personal case studies. Alternatively you could look at specialist publications and media that cover the subject area you wish to study. They may like to interview you. Be prepared that some people won’t like what you are doing. Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept and not one that sits well with everyone. One of the first students to fund her degree this way in the UK, suffered a considerable media backlash, but ultimately she got the money!
Fancy giving it a go?
Here are some UK based crowdfunding sites you could use. Do note that they charge you a percentage of the money you are donated, for their services, so take that in to consideration when setting your targets.