Social media fundraising for college students

I’m sure you’ve all seen the Ice Bucket Challenge videos that have flooded the Internet recently. While it may just seem like a fun thing to do on a hot summer day, the Ice Bucket Challenge has already raised over $62 million in fundraising efforts toward amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research.

With social media awareness, fundraising efforts have reached new levels. (Credit: For Momentum)

With social media awareness, fundraising efforts have reached new levels. (Credit: For Momentum)

Here’s what you need to know about social media fundraising for a cause, and how you can join in to help raise funds.

Why pour ice on your head?

The founders of the Ice Bucket Challenge wanted to raise awareness for ALS and raise funds for the treatment and eventual cure of the disease that not many people were aware of. What started off as a friendly challenge, according to ESPN’s SC Feature, “Pete’s Challenge,” quickly became much more for Pete Frates, one of the founders of the fundraising movement. Frates was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012 and knew that he had to attack the disease and make a difference. As of August 24, the ALS association has raised more than $62.5 million, which includes contributions by 1.2 million new donors to the charity. 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a way for organizations, classroom teachers, and ordinary citizens to make a difference and raise funds from the masses around the world. Just search the Internet for “crowdfunding” and you’ll see thousands of news stories from around the world where average people are fundraising for causes such as treatment for Ebola, renovation for a midtown Detroit alley, and college tuition for young adults who might not otherwise have been able to attend.

Web sites like GoFundMe and DonorsChoose have been around for a couple of decades, and with the rise in popularity of these online campaigns, organizations began reaching out to possible donors through the newest platform. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to donate $1 million to DonorsChoose.org the weekend of August 22-24, 2014. For many projects listed, the Gates Foundation matched dollar for dollar.

Everything from music to video games to design and films can be funded through Kickstarter. Kickstarter supporters have been fundraising Zach Braff’s newest film journey, “Wish I Were Here;” they have helped students raise funds to build new classrooms; and have supported new technological advances like Pebble, a new “smart” watch that syncs with iPhones and Android phones. These types of crowdfunding have allowed anyone to be a part of a larger project that was virtually non-existent until 2012.

Social media fundraising takes off

Causera contributor, Deborah Liu, posted “7 Ways to Use Social Media for Fundraising” on the Nonprofit Fundraising Journal July 8, 2014. Liu offers tips for those wanting to take their efforts further:

  • Use what you’ve got: Don’t reinvent your email lists and Facebook pages. Reach out to those contacts you’ve already made.
  • Show the impact of gifts and donations: Everyone likes to know where the money donated is going. Make quick ‘thank you’ videos and let donors know where exactly funds will be spent.
  • Don’t forget your call to action: Remind your users to share posts to help spread the word about your organization/event/etc. Users like to feel helpful when they believe in a cause. Make it easy to spread the good word around and you’ll have greater results. (Perhaps this is why Facebook added the “share” feature to posts?) 

So, how can you get involved?

It’s hard to part with hard-earned money, especially when you’re still a college student on a budget. But consider this, if you donated just $10 to a friend’s cancer fundraiser and then you shared your fundraising efforts on your Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts, you could potentially reach thousands of people willing to donate as well. Here are some websites that you can share to help spread the word:

  • DonorsChoose.org
  • Kickstarter.com
  • GoFundMe.com
  • Indiegogo.com 

What are some of your favorite causes for fundraising? Have you tried to raise funds through crowdfunding before? Share below!

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