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Pitchfunder program revitalizes ASU fundraising efforts

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We’ve all seen them as we drive down Rural Road. ASU students stand near intersections with poster boards in hand advertising carwashes for a cause. Or you’ll see it on your Facebook feed, in the form of an invite to a local restaurant that will donate a portion of profits to a charity of the collegiate group’s choice. But profits of such philanthropic events can be minimal.

“We’ve had a number of student groups who have come through who had done a little more traditional fundraising and never really saw a great return,” says Shad Hanselman, executive director of Annual Giving Programs at ASU. “And they really felt they were kind of just working and exchanging for fun.”

Taking a page from websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Hanselman worked with ASU to bring forward a new kind of fundraising program: Pitchfunder.

Pitchfunder is a crowdsourcing program at ASU that allows students and faculty to fundraise for the programs they’re passionate about. Piloted in April 2013, the program was opened to all campuses and campus members this past fall.

“Our students are extremely entrepreneurial and very involved, so that’s why we were looking for a way to help support them in those endeavors” says Hanselman. “It’s a great way for them to learn how to do fundraising but also how to work as part of a team and do outreach.”

Crowdsoucing entails soliciting contributions through online communities. Through ASU’s Pitchfunder website, students and faculty are able to reach out to target communities to fund their charitable projects. They have 30 days to meet their goal on the site.

Tiffany Antor, assistant director at the Office of Annual Giving, says Pitchfunder wants to be seen as a group that works with the ASU community to build strong ties with the university.

“I think it’s a really phenomenal way to involve students in the act of philanthropy,” she says.

Pitchfunder representatives assist groups with targeting their first order network, which is comprised of friends and family who already care about their issue, and arm them with the tools they need to be effective fundraisers.

“We work with the groups to focus on the first order network and get that group excited so that they can work with you to spread the word to friends and family and keep growing our community beyond that,” Antor says.

Hanselman says he has already received positive feedback from ASU’s student community regarding Pitchfunder.

“By partnering with us and learning how to be effective fundraisers and how to do outreach and tell their story, they were able to actually get really excited by it and saw a much higher return coming back in,” Hanselman says.

For her part, Antor hopes to continue building a program that allows the Office of Annual Giving to interact with the ASU community in the act of philanthropy.

“I would love to see crowdfunding spread across the entire ASU community,” she says. “But if we are able to help students raise funds for extracurriculars that really distinguish their education here at ASU from what they might be able to receive anywhere else, then I’ll consider our efforts a great success.”

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