Got a great idea for your class? Asked your principal or year head about it? Did the answer revolved around the word ‘budget’?
No matter where you are, the chances are that funding a new idea or even simply replacing old equipment is difficult. All schools are under budgetary pressures, so the chances of you chasing that dream project can often remain slim. And that affects how effective you are as an educator.
One alternative might be crowdfunding. Most commonly associated with funding Silicon Valley’s wilder dreams or a more old-school creativity it can, in education, be a method of raising funds, awareness and input from parents and supporters. Crowd-sourcing as well as crowd-funding.
If you fancy giving it a go, these tips can help you build the perfect crowdfunding campaign for your school.
How to use crowdfunding in education
Research what’s worked. See how others delivered – what sort of projects were successful, and which weren’t. For examples, try the student newspaper the Daily Free Press. Or the coding game Code Monkey Island. Or AdoptAClassroom.org as a way of raising cash for more basic materials. There’s plenty out there. look around and learn about your market.
Choose your platform. Few crowdfunding platforms cater specifically to educators and they don’t have huge audiences. From Indiegogo to Kickstarter to GoFundMe and all the rest, check out what cut the platform will take, whether you have to raise all the money to get any and whether other education projects get funded. There are comparison tables, like this one ‘coincidentally’ run by GoFundme.
Get the pitch right. Your pitch, typically, is made up of a few hundred words and a video. They are there to sell your project in a VERY crowded market. Your target audience needs to know what the project is; why it’s important; what will be the outcome and while you are just the person to deliver it. Pass your text round a few colleagues to see what they think. You’ll only have one shot, so make sure you get it right.
Think about the rewards. Rewards in crowdfunding projects are those little inducements to get people to pledge. In many projects they seem to be based around t-shirts and little else – and you don’t want to spend the project cash on even that. For an education project, the better rewards could be in involvement – the crowd-sourcing. Getting people to see the project come together and to get benefits that spin off that (artwork, videos, letters from the pupils) can be more rewarding than any old t-shirt.
Marketing your project. Getting the idea in front of people is key. And the more you can personalize that contact, the better. So individual emails and direct messages on social media deliver far more than round-robin mails and simply posting a link. The problem is one of time and you have to balance out the potential drudgery of individual contacts and the upside of the fact that those one-to-one messages will work much better. A mix of personalized and broader social media messages will be the most likely outcome. But make a plan for delivering the news of your project, don’t leave it to chance.
Keep the conversation going. Those who supported your project deserve information. keep talking to them. Send regular updates on how the project is progressing. During the fundraising process, this will encourage them to share the pitch with others and market it for you. When you’re funded, thank them and during the project itself, news on your progress is the least they deserve.
Crowdfunding is not something you can do too often – you can’t go back to the same crowd and ask them to subsidise your cake budget. But once every year, for the right project, it could be the key to getting that extra project delivered. And everyone will be happy, especially your students.
Thumbnail image by Images Money via Flickr cc