The Power of Crowdfunding

by Brooks Clark November 13, 2014

Last year, UT’s Robotics Team needed $1,500 to take part in the annual Robotics Competition and continue its outreach efforts at local high schools. The students posted their need on UT’s crowdfunding website, and thirteen online donors gave the team more than $1,700.

“It was very beneficial,” said Andrew Messing, a junior in computer engineering and captain of this year’s robotics team. “It allowed us to focus more on working on the robots and preparing for the competition and less on how to actually afford to go to the competition. It was also nice to see that people were willing to sponsor us, and that they thought what we’re doing—including our outreach to elementary schools and volunteering at high school competitions—is worthwhile.”

This is the power of crowdfunding. Through the Internet and social media, large numbers of viewers can quickly find out about a worthy project, click, and make a contribution. It also displays the impact that many small gifts can have toward meeting a goal.

This month, UT rolled out VOLstarter, a new crowdfunding site which uses innovative website design and practices that enable departments and students to not only post videos explaining their needs but also thank donors and give them up-to-date information about the good being done because of their contribution.

VOLstarter launched with twenty projects, including:

  • The Big Orange Combine—Sport management students seek to travel to the Super Bowl to help put on the event and learn from the inside how it’s done. Injured quarterback Justin Worley will participate.
  • FMA Meets Warren Buffet—Financial Management Association students seek to travel to Omaha, Nebraska, to learn tips on investing from Warren Buffet.
  • Precious Prints—Nursing students seek to help create silver fingerprint charms for families who have lost a newborn child.
  • Freedom by Design—Architecture students seek to create vital architectural modifications to a house for a low-income family with disabilities.

To read more about the projects or to donate, visit the VOLstarter website.

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