The Crowdfunding Possibilities Facilitated Across the Web can Work for Students and Teachers too
“Crowdfunding” bought a whole new angle to charitable donations by turning the Web into a collections machine that can make lots of small donations add up to big bucks!
Most people have probably heard of KickStarter and similar tools, but did you know that Crowdfunding is being used effectively by students to fund their education and by teachers to fund classroom needs?
Using a variety of sources, I looked at numerous crowdfunding sites, some specific to education, and some more general. Below I list and provide a little information about many that I came across.
Disclaimer! Please note that I am not endorsing any of these sites, this is just a list and some observations. Anyone considering using these sites should do their own research. All of these sites charge something for their service, so you typically don't receive all of the funds that are contributed. It is also entirely possible (likely, in fact) that bad people will put up sites like these to rip people off, so ‘approach with caution'. That being said, when something like this works as intended, it is a beautiful thing!
Educational Costs for Students
Here are several web sites that have been used by students to fund their educational expenses. With these types of sites in particular, I made an effort to look for validation of their legitimacy based external sources. GoFundMe, Scholar Match, and YouCaring have each received wide media coverage and stood out as quality services.
I included a couple here that I have listed under the title of “Proceed with Caution”, as these seemed questionable, but I wanted to mention them because I saw them referenced in other lists on the Web and thought it was worth looking at them and providing some feedback based on what I see.
- GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com): In this article, student Alexis-Brianna Felix discussed how she surpassed her goal of raising $5,000 in the first 27 hours of using GoFundMe!
- Scholar Match (scholarmatch.org): According to their About page, “Our mission is to make college possible for underserved youth by matching students with donors, resources, colleges, and professional networks.” Scholar Match started as a small operation focused on helping student fund their education, but it has since grown into a larger service organization.
- YouCaring (www.youcaring.com/tuition-fundraising): These folks look pretty solid. YouCaring was founded in 2011, does crowdfunding in many categories, and has been covered in many News Outlets over the years.
- ZeroBound (www.zerobound.com): These folks have a unique approach. “Zerobound was created to provide an innovative option to reduce student loan debt for exceptional students and graduates dedicated to volunteering their skills and education. Zerobound comes alive when these volunteers connect with organizations and sponsors. The potential for social impact becomes tremendous.” They are in Beta and they don't have success stories posted, so its hard to try and validate their legitimacy and effectiveness. I did find this article about them in Forbes, so that would seem to lend a little credence. Check out their FAQs to learn more.
- CrowdFundEDU : This site appears to have been legitimate, but it also appears to be in transition, becoming a part of “Project Pay It Forward” (their page was under construction as I wrote this – I'll update this reference if I find that is becomes available at a later date). Their Facebook page has been inactive for quite some time now.
Proceed with Caution
- Alumni Funder (www.alumnifunder.com/crowdfunders): Honestly, this site seemed a little sketchy, or at a minimum, poorly designed and with limited use. There were no active “projects” going on on the site as I wrote this.
- Piglt (piglt.com): I can't get behind this site, as there are no active campaigns, no recent campaigns, and only one ‘success story', and the links to most of the sites they have listed as “Featured On” do not go to functional pages.
Funding Student Loans (or Refinancing)
Another interesting angle to crowdfunding the cost of education is with student loans. These two sites focus on crowdfunding student loans or loan refinancing:
- CommonBond (commonbond.co): This site was just covered in this TechCrunch story and they appear to be quite legit. You can secure a student loan at a decent rate, or refinance the loans you need to pay off.
- SoFi (www.sofi.com): These folks will let you refinance your student loans to save money paying them off. They have lots of legit press coverage and certainly appear to be the real deal.
Teachers: Classroom Needs, School Projects
There are plenty of sites out there that have been used by teachers to fund classroom needs and projects. The first 4 in this list are non-profits that I wrote about before. I've added a few others as well.
- AdoptAClassroom (adoptaclassroom.org): Read about the impact Adopt a Classroom is having here.
- DonorsChoose (www.donorschoose.org): While their name might not give it away, these folks are also focused specifically on education.
- ClassWish (classwish.org): Their web site states “ClassWish is the only nonprofit that lets people contribute to fund any K-12 school or teacher in the country.”
- DigitalWish (www.digitalwish.com): Digital Wish is focused on donations to help place technology in classrooms and schools.
- IndieGoGo (indiegogo.com): This popular crowdfunding site has an education-specific section.
- Experiment (experiment.com): Crowdfunding for Scientific Research.
- RocketHub (rockethub.com): The teach you how to succeed at CrowdFunding in their “Success School“.
If you have used these or other services, other students and teachers would rally appreciate it if you share your experience. Thanks!