Many aunts, uncles and friends of a student would like nothing better than to help a child in need of paying for college or a finishing school achieve their goal. It seems like today's 'Entitlement Generation' already has enough Barbie dolls, video games and Christmas toys that end up in broken piles a few weeks after Christmas and never end up with the memories that make the Toy Story franchise dear to our hearts.
So what can you do to the generation that seems to have multiples of everything. Think about crowd funding. What it is is a student or organization can put their financial wish list from paying for college, planning a missions trip or research project and invites those that might contribute information on what they will do with the money.
Sites charge a processing
fee to host the accounts, and users market their projects or causes to
potential donors through a collection of stories, photos and updates.
It may not be as sexy as receiving an envelop at graduation with a fresh Benjamin or three but can help connect those that need the money with people vested in helping someone achieve a financial goal.
Crowdfunding sites are plentiful and some do a better job than others. One common theme is the person desiring money uses a description for the financial request, uses links to show the requests are legit and even has rewards that give contributors everything from monetary rewards to DVD's that show the money was actually spent for the purpose requested.
In an article written in the AJC by Janel Davis, the sites allow people to use either their credit card or Pay Pal to fund worthy causes for churches, use birthday or endowment money to fund a students educational needs and the list goes on. The money raised is no joke. Many products, student requests and even mission trip requests are 100% funded and the time frame to raise the money has an end date.
Here is the story.
Crowdfunding your way to a college diploma
By Janel Davis - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Two years ago Destiny Nieves was in a bind. The Henry County high school student was excited about starting her college career at Emory University, but not so excited about the price tag.
Grants and a scholarship were paying a large part of her tuition, but the funds were not enough to cover additional fees, books and living expenses. A friend recommended she take her fundraising efforts to the Internet and try crowdfunding.
The social fundraising phenomenon that allows people to solicit online donations has helped raise money for service projects, movies and musicians, and it grew to become a $5.1 billion industry last year. Now, students are using the same power of the Internet to fund their college careers.
“I figured it couldn’t hurt to try,” said Nieves, 21. “The only thing I could do was not get anything, and I didn’t have anything anyway.”
Crowdfunding has been around for years, popularized by sites such as ArtistShare, IndieGoGo and Kickstarter that feature a number of service and personal projects available for funding. This semester, for example, two Emory freshmen used IndieGoGo to raise more than $14,500 to fund their work on a more user-friendly Ebola test, and Georgia State University’s marching band raised $13,000 through crowdfunding to pay travel costs to and from New York City to perform in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And, with the cost of college steadily rising and student loan debt surpassing credit card debt, the general fundraising site GoFundMe has become the go-to choice for students looking to crowdfund their college expenses.
“I think of this as the old patronage system where royalty would sponsor causes and individuals,” said Tyra Burton, a senior lecturer of marketing and professional sales at Kennesaw State University. “Now we see everyday Jan and Joe Smith able to do this.”
Nieves, who has since transferred to Kennesaw State, raised $495 through her crowdfunding account.
The ease of crowdfunding has its appeal. Sites charge a processing fee to host the accounts, and users market their projects or causes to potential donors through a collection of stories, photos and updates. GoFundMe has helped make college more of a reality for people who need help or don’t have strong financial networks or are the first in their family to go to college, Burton said. Those most successful at raising money typically have a compelling story, strong social networks and realistic fundraising goals, she said. She does warn donors that there are risks with donating.
“There is the possibility of being taken advantage of … so that’s why they should be (funding) people they know or are a step removed, like Aunt Sally’s friend,” she said. “The six degrees of Kevin Bacon really applies.”
Morehouse College student Marcus Bracey took his story — complete with a sentimental video and music — and expenses to GoFundMe with hopes of raising enough money to re-enroll in the college and complete his final classes before graduation. Bracey’s story began with the death of his mother in 2011. That led to a downward spiral in his grades, followed by depression. He eventually flunked out of the college, he said, and lost his federal financial aid.
“I thought turning to GoFundMe would be a great way for me to express myself and not feel sorry again,” said Bracey, 25. “It was closure for me.”
His $15,000 goal is far from complete. He has raised just over $2,000 thus far. In the meantime, he’s working to raise money and staying hopeful. “For me, it’s persistence,” Bracey said. “God is in control of our circumstances. I know that my faith will get me through.”
To get through education for her second career, Jennifer Ratcliffe also turned to crowdfunding for help.
Ratcliffe, 54, is an adult learner. “That just means I’m old and going back to schools,” she jokingly explained. The former graphic designer and divorcee decided to reboost her life and enroll in Emory’s nursing school.
Ratcliffe has raised more than $7,000 toward her $10,000 goal to help pay her tuition. About $4,100 was raised through GoFundMe, with $3,000 coming from friends and family who didn’t want to pay through the Internet. The Emory student was so impressed with the crowdfunding experience that she’s encouraged her son to set up an account to help fund his tuition at Georgia Perimeter College.“I have decided that when I graduate I will give anonymously to a student in a similar situation,” she said. “I think this concept is ideal for students.