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Crowdsourcing launches fundraising efforts

Student groups are increasingly using Owl Crowd for funds.

In the quickly evolving world of crowdsourcing, Temple is one of many universities in the country providing the resources for its student organizations to run fundraising campaigns on their own. The third round of these campaigns opened Monday, March 17 and participants said they’re hopeful following the success of the last round.

As opposed to the traditionally large goals pursued by Temple that could be in the hundreds of thousands, OwlCrowd aims for smaller goals no more than $5,000.

Most privately owned crowdsourcing sites take a percentage of the funds raised to pay for their operating costs. With OwlCrowd however, student organizations are able to receive 100 percent of the money donated due to no third-party involvement as well as Temple’s tax status as a nonprofit institution. Additionally, those who donate can receive a tax write-off if they choose to.

Crowdsourcing – the form of fundraising that draws small donations from many donors typically on the Internet to cut soliciting costs – is a relatively new practice, having been coined in the mid-2000s. Ranging from Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign to startup costs for video game studios, crowdsourcing has continued to evolve in what it can be used for.

Some of the most popular crowdsourcing websites that serve general purpose projects, like Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Kickstarter, take off around 5 percent of the proceeds. Associate Director of the Temple Fund and founder of Owl Crowd Alysea McDonald said OwlCrowd benefits student organizations by removing these fees.

Temple’s chapter of American Institute of Architecture Students, a student organization with 40 members, are participating in Owl Crowd with a goal of raising $5,000.

Mark Zivi, a representative for Temple’s chapter of AAIS and a senior architecture major, said Owl Crowd was popular with student organizations for this round.

“It [Owl Crowd] is a pretty competitive project,” Zivi said. “I remember when we sat down at the interest meeting for this, there were a lot more projects than spots available and we were lucky to have one this time.”

The previous two rounds of fundraising were held from Aug. 15 to Sept. 30 then from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31. The first round had six participating organizations that raised a combined $1,712 with 31 participating donors.

The second round saw a considerable rise in success with eight organizations raising more than $11,825 from 91 donors. For the first time, two organizations exceeded their goals, the Diamond Marching Band and the Hillel Center having raised $6,285 and $3,122, respectively.

For this fundraising period, there are 10 participating organizations who are more ambitiously setting their goals. The combined value of the organizations’ goals is $41,000, a rise of $900 per organization on average since the program started.

The Temple News was one of the organizations selected to participate in the fundraiser, with a goal to raise $5,000.

“There’s definitely been a growing interest in it from organizations,” McDonald said. “It’s been a really good collaborative effort with student orgs and other departments in the university. We’ve been able to collaborate more this year because of this website.”

McDonald said she got the idea from other schools’ programs such as Middlebury College’s MiddSTART or the University of Delaware’s UDSeed. The University of California raised $1 million by including celebrities in the crowdfunding campaigns.

McDonald said that in Spring 2013 she started seriously discussing the implementation of bringing a similar program to Temple. Instead of contracting the development of the OwlCrowd website to an external company, the web communications team in institutional advancement took on the task.

“We actually have a pretty robust communications team within the university,” McDonald said. “When they sat in on the meetings they were like, ‘You know what, we could probably build this ourselves…So the web communications team in institutional advancement has been instrumental in building and designing the site.’”

A credit card is required in order to donate. A new “honor roll” page has been implemented on the OwlCrowd website to be able to list the names of those who donated.

McDonald added that she plans to continue the program in the future and welcomed any organization interested in participating to contact her office via a link on the OwlCrowd website. All participating organizations must be officially registered with the university.

“I definitely want it to become another solid solicitation vehicle [practice] of the Temple fund and annual giving,” McDonald said.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu and on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

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