Western Kentucky University will soon have its own crowdfunding platform.
SpiritFunder launches April 17, said Jenny Wells Pyle, associate director of leadership annual giving.
“It’s something a lot of universities have done with great success. It’s like Kickstarter or Indiegogo except your contributions are tax deductible and students receive 100 percent of the funding they raise,” she said. “With Kickstarter and Indiegogo they are charged fees. The way that we’re doing it it can be truly charitable.”
If students, groups or faculty have an urgent need for things such as equipment, help going to conferences, study-abroad trips for a cohort of students and more, they can use this platform through social media, Pyle said.
“They set up their campaign, tell their story and tell what impact their funds have,” she said. “The people who contribute will see a direct impact almost immediately.”
The students would be trying to bring in between $2,000 and $10,000, Pyle said.
“A lot of times they have staff or faculty sponsor it. The campaign is generated by the students,” she said. “They have to update it every 48 to 72 hours. It’s possible for faculty or staff to head it, but it’s going to be a lot of the students.”
SpiritFunder can’t be used for faculty or staff salaries, money for tuition or projects created with the purpose of raising profits, according to the crowdfunding frequently asked questions page. If a campaign doesn’t meet its funding goal, collected funds will be used either to partially support the current project or toward other related initiatives. If a campaign is overfunded, additional project funds beyond the stated goal amount may be used toward the project. Any funds available after the project ends may be used to benefit other related projects.
“We have our first four campaigns that are preparing to launch,” Pyle said. “We decided which campaigns we were going to do. They’re taking ownership. It is very much student-driven.”
Pyle said she is “excited” about SprirtFunder.
“We’ve been working hard to prepare to make sure we are going to do right by everybody to invest in our students and our faculty,” she said.
The university saw the obvious opportunity and platforms work within Internal Revenue Service guidelines to make sure contributions are completely tax deductible, Pyle said.
“We want to make sure people who want to invest with these causes are taken care of,” she said. “You get to feel like you’re part of something special and feel a direct connection.”
– For more information, email Pyle or Heather McWhorter at firstname.lastname@example.org.