Stroll near The Commons on most weekdays and you’ll see tables piled high with tasty baked goods. The students at these tables are asking for help – spare change, really – to fund their clubs’ latest and greatest pursuits in a way that hasn’t changed much since the university opened in 1966.
But now these passionate student appeals are getting a boost from the power of the people . . . and the internet. UMBC recently unveiled a new crowdfunding website that allows students to harness their personal relationships to bring in support for their own projects on campus. The site – which focuses on university needs as well as student causes – gives students a way to easily use social media to publicize, track and aggregate philanthropic campaigns.
“We are incredibly excited to work with student groups to help them understand the ins and outs of philanthropy through crowdfunding,” says Dayna Carpenter, UMBC’s director of annual giving. “Our students are very motivated to do good in this world, and this is an important element of their education.”
UMBC’s crowdfunding site already boasts colorful channels to help student causes. Visitors can help the SAE Mini Baja team get to their next competition, help the Down and Dirty Dawg Band produce their next CD, or even send students from Engineers Without Borders to Kenya to dig wells.
“Without the help and support of things like our fundraising page, we wouldn’t be able to receive stipends, buy new equipment, pay for instrument repairs, or put out CDs,” says Drew Ballantine, a UMBC senior and member of the Down and Dirty Dawg Band. “These donations allow us to continuously grow by doing more things each year, like adding more performances or playing new music.”
Donors can also support university giving that directly benefits current students, including LGBTQ initiatives on campus or the Stay Black and Gold Fund for those who have emergency financial needs.
“I love the crowdfunding model because it gives us the chance to give back to what we really care about,” says Chris Magaha ’03, information systems management. “And you can see exactly where the money is going to go.”
And that’s exactly why UMBC made the venture into crowdfunding. It gives students a chance to share their projects with the world and get the support they need, while donors can find projects they’re passionate about and see their gifts have an immediate impact.
“The crowdfunding site really is the best of all worlds,” says Dayna. “Even though it’s still new, people have responded very positively. We’re eager to see how this effort continues to grow.”