Over the past few years, crowdfunding has become a popular way to raise support for academic and science-related projects. In 2016, Princeton contracted with USeed, a leading higher ed crowdfunding platform, to make the process as easy and accessible as possible for Princeton University faculty to crowdfund research or program support.
The University’s new relationship with USeed is an exciting development for Princeton. Crowdfunding can be a good source of flexible—and quick— funding: You can broadly define the uses of your funds for donors and you are likely to raise the bulk of your funds—and have them in hand—within four weeks or so.
Within the first few months of Princeton going “live” with USeed, one project completed its campaign, raising nearly three times its initial goal of $10,000, and a second project has launched its fundraising effort.
So, is crowdfunding right for your Princeton project? How can you start a USeed crowdfunding campaign? And what do you need to do to ensure your crowdfunding campaign is successful?
How USeed Works at Princeton
The Princeton University Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations administers the USeed relationship at the University. We can work with you on a one-to-one basis, helping develop your project funding proposal, assessing whether crowdfunding is a good fit for your goals and sharing with you the tricks of the trade to give your fundraising campaign the best chance of success. If crowdfunding makes sense, we can help you set up your project with USeed.
The University’s relationship with USeed provides several advantages over other crowdfunding platforms:
There is no cost to any internal Princeton University user. One-hundred percent of the funds you raise will go toward your project.
There is no minimum dollar amount that must be raised before funds can be drawn.
The University will administer and do all accounting and reporting related to the fundraising effort.
So, what’s the catch?
Things to Consider: Is crowdfunding right for your project?
To be eligible for funding through the University’s contract with USeed, the project must have a faculty project leader and a sponsoring University department who will process the funds.
Projects which can be dramatically helped by a relatively small amount of money are more likely to be successful. If $5,000 or $25,000 would help you activate your project, whether it is for a piece of equipment or operating expenses, crowdfunding may be able to deliver the push you need. However, if your project needs $100,000, crowdfunding is probably not the right way to fund your effort. Talk to us and perhaps we can suggest a better alternative.
Crowdfunding puts you in the fundraising business. Crowdfunding is a mechanism that allows donations to be easily accepted online. But the effort of getting your message out and asking for donations must still be done by you. You and your project team will be responsible for promoting and pleading for contributions. Do you have a readily identifiable and accessible audience who you believe will step up and donate? Do you have an email list and social media audience to whom you can distribute your link? Are there interest groups who will help you get out your message to their members? Do you and your team have the time and inclination to ask for the money? We can help you work through these questions.
Let’s do this!
Crowdfunding at Princeton through USeed is very simple once you’ve determined the method is a good fit for your project. All we need to get you started is: a description of the program; photos and/or videos; contribution levels that make sense for your audience (We can help you determine those.); and a list of your supporters so we can blast out an email.
We believe there are many Princeton projects that can be successful at crowdfunding support and we want to help you. Please reach out to Rajiv Hota (Rhota@princeton.edu 609-258-9837) to set up an initial consultation. We look forward to working with you!