Have you ever considered empowering your student population to become fundraising ambassadors for your institution?
If not, consider this: Your students could help you engage a new world of relationships. They can tell amazing stories to an audience you've never reached, moving those communities to take action. Students could also partner with you to lead a culture of philanthropy - a culture that will permeate your campus from the center outwards.
Whether they have fundraising experience or not, we believe students could be your greatest partner in galvanizing donors and leading a philanthropic movement. We also believe that schools have much to gain by positioning students at the heart of the school's Crowdfunding Program. Here's why:
Students tell compelling stories
Instagram hit me hard last week with a quote that I have not been able to shake:
"You don't need to be a voice for the voiceless - just pass the mic."
I believe that this is why Humans of New York is the pinnacle of modern storytelling and goodwill. The founder, Brandon, meets people on the streets of New York and gives them a platform to share their stories, struggles, heartbreaks, and wins, and he formats these stories as direct quotes from the people he meets. He provides the platform and the outlet, but he is not a voice for the voiceless. He simply gives them the microphone.
It's also no surprise that this method of storytelling is effective in raising awareness and donations. Humans of New York has raised millions of dollars for Syrian refugees, pediatric cancer, and an underserved Brooklyn school - just to name a few.
So, what if, instead of telling the stories of students on your campus in the third person, you passed them the mic and allowed them to tell the stories from their perspectives? We even teach your students how to tell great stories, so you can be rest assured that their outreach will resonate with their audience!
Students have social influence
Students - especially millennials - are exceptional at moving each other to take action.
Consider the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge that swept the world over as people nominated each other to dump ice over themselves and then upload the videos to social media - all in the name of raising awareness and donations for ALS. The challenge became the world's largest global social media phenomenon, with the videos totaling over 10 billion views and the ALS Association raising $115 to advance ALS research. Over the past few years, the organization has made repeated attempts to recreate the 2014 phenomenon. The reality is, however, that an organization is just not as persuasive as peer influence is.
When you let your students take the fundraising wheel, you'll quickly see that they can influence new donors by simply asking them to give. Last week, for example, I asked my coworkers to support a campaign for a friend whose dog passed away - leaving her with thousands of dollars in vet bills. They didn't know her, but many gave. She came back to me in tears, not understanding why they would do this for a stranger.
The answer was simple: I asked them to. It mattered to me, so it mattered to them.
And if it matters to your students, it will matter to their communities.
Students have funding needs
No matter the institution, there is nobody who is feeling funding woes as much as students are. With limited time, energy, and financial resources, students have to work hard to fill in the gaps when they want to do something extraordinary (like building an underwater submarine or setting up a memorial scholarship in honor of a beloved friend).
The beauty of peer-to-peer crowdfunding is that it is accessible to even the most inexperienced fundraisers. In fact, we have found that first-time crowdfunding campaigners are the easiest to train because they're eager and ready to learn from others so that they can launch a successful campaign.
So, with a great need for funds for their own school-related projects and an open mind to crowdfunding best practices, students quickly scale the ladder as an institution's most powerful - and motivated - fundraising ally.
Students have access to new networks
The truth is, most of the people your students know have never made a donation to your institution. There are vast oceans of new donors, new volunteers, and new advocates waiting to get involved. It just takes the right person to reach them.
Enter your student population.
When you empower students to fundraise for the things they care about, your reach grows exponentially.
Students can lead a culture of philanthropy
There is no better way to educate somebody on the importance of philanthropy than by letting them practice it and experience the benefit of it.
Several student groups have crowdfunded with USEED multiple years in a row, and we've found that time and again, leaders of a campaign will come back and make a significant donation post-graduation - whether to the campaign or to a general fund at the school.
The cycle happens almost immediately. And it's powerful.
And remember: Someday, your students will become your alumni. Chances are, your alumni make up an important segment of your donors and volunteers. We know that it's is becoming increasingly challenging to connect with this younger generation of alumni, but it's not impossible. We just have to shake things up!
So, if you want to lead a culture of philanthropy on your campus, empower your students. They are leaders in their own right, with stories to tell and communities that care deeply about what they care about. Students are your school's ultimate fundraisers, and all you have to do is pass them the mic.