How might the education sector embrace crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is becoming a fruitful venture across all sectors of industry, and education is no exception. Some schools in the US have already turned to crowdfunding to make up their funding shortfalls – is this a trend that’s likely to continue and could it work in UK schools? We spoke to crowdfunding expert John Auckland to get his take on the situation in Education Executive. 

What is crowdfunding and how does it differ from traditional fundraising?

Crowdfunding is an online fundraising campaign held on a platform such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter or Crowdfunder. It involves offering rewards or experiences to a defined group of people in return for their financial support in bringing a cause or idea to life. It works particularly well when you have a group of people passionate about a cause so educational crowdfunding can work well, in theory, because parents see it as a direct investment in their children’s future.

Can you give us any examples?

You can probably put educational crowdfunding into two camps. There’s the traditional fundraiser where the school engages directly with parents and other connected individuals to raise money for new facilities or equipment they can’t afford through state funding alone. For example, High Storrs School in Sheffield is raising money to maintain its classics and Latin classes while St. Paul’s school in the US regularly uses crowdfunding to top-up its funding shortfalls.

Then there are my favourite educational campaigns – the ones tackling the heart of the issue rather than just some of the symptoms. Seattle’s hugely successful ‘One hour of code for every student’ is still one of the biggest educational campaigns of all time. It was so effective because it struck a chord with the type of people who like to crowdfund – people who want to bring forward the future of technology and who see today’s children as an integral part of that future.

Why is educational crowdfunding coming to the fore now?

Educational crowdfunding solves a serious problem that’s becoming more prevalent. Sadly, we live in a time of austerity where schools need to self-fund extracurricular activities or subjects like the arts or languages which, while seen as non-essential, actually drive culture and help children find their individuality and humanity.

What crowdfunding campaigns would you like to see in the educational sector?

I’d like to see more campaigns that help students to get out of the classroom and make friends with people from different backgrounds. Perhaps a crowdfunding campaign that replaces the traditional exchange programme, where Christian students from the UK could visit a Muslim school in the Middle East, for example. Students who otherwise couldn’t afford the cost of travel could participate in a cultural exchange to break down a lot of preconceptions about the Muslim faith.

Read more about crowdfunding How might the education sector embrace crowdfunding?

Has your school tried crowdfundng? Using technology a wider audience can be tapped into so will it take over the traditional school fundraiser? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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