From raising money for charity events to amassing capital for new entrepreneurial ventures, crowdfunding has become a popular way for people and organizations to raise funds for projects through small-scale investments from a variety of individual contributors. Online crowdsourcing platforms facilitate these transactions, enabling would-be fundraisers to share their project, idea, or cause, and make a case for why others — friends and strangers alike — should help them meet their funding goal.
During the pilot for TD4Ed, participating teams received a stipend to help them implement the solution that they developed over the course of the program. Having the funds to start making their design a reality allowed the teams to move their concept “off the whiteboard and into the real world,” as we like to say at BIF. This way, TD4Ed became more than just an interesting exercise or learning experience, and teams’ solutions could actually be put into place and have real effects. But with our funding period coming to an end, we don’t have the resources to offer financial support to new teams who use the curriculum and want to implement the solutions they create.
So we began thinking about crowdfunding, seeing it as a way for teams that complete the TD4Ed curriculum to raise the money needed to put their new solution into place. TD4Ed’s platform already gives educators tools to craft their story and pitch their project to an audience of potential funders, so it sets teachers up nicely to run a crowdfunding campaign. So at first glance, TD4Ed seemed quite compatible with crowdfunding: it wouldn’t require too onerous of an additional time commitment, and teachers would have a good shot at campaign success.
There are a massive number of crowdfunding platforms in the marketplace. Most are not geared specifically toward education, but many have categories that highlight such education-related projects (although in practice this often leans more toward individuals raising funds for tuition or student loan repayment). Many platforms have bonus features, like the ability to promote and incentivize campaigns (e.g. DonorsChoose, Indiegogo, IncitED, etc.), which could allow users to attract more attention, as well as resources for users on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.
There are some very popular education-focused platforms that enable teachers to raise funds for their schools and classrooms. Some of the more well-known of these, however require that users’ projects or funded costs fall into tightly defined categories or rely solely on specified vendors (e.g. DonorsChoose, Adopt-a-Classroom). For this reason, these platforms did not seem to be a great fit for most TD4Ed projects, which in our experience don’t usually result in a need for the sorts of things these crowdfunding sites do fund, like books, tech resources, and supplies.
However! DonorsChoose is currently funding teachers’ professional development projects, which opens some exciting possibilities, and so we encourage educators to check that out and apply for funding for their TD4Ed (and other PD!) ideas. For more information, click here and here. Another education-focused crowdfunding platform worth highlighting is IncitED. It does not have restrictions on vendors, and the cool thing about it is that it emphasizes sharing effective practices and collaboration, which offers more value than just facilitating fundraising efforts.
Interested in running a crowdfunding campaign on your own site? Launcht might be the choice for you: this is a white-label platform that allows you to launch and manage a crowdfunding contest in your existing website.