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NIU Foundation launches new crowdfunding program

March 31, 2021

Those looking to make a difference at NIU have a new tool to help raise much-needed financial support. NIU Impact, the NIU Foundation’s new crowdfunding program, launches today, April 1, at http://crowdfund.niu.edu and features ten campaigns.

Growth of Digital Giving

The NIU Foundation has experienced significant growth in its digital giving program, seeing an increase of over 100% from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2020 in dollars raised. “In 2018, we raised nearly $290,000 through digital giving ,” shares Michael Adzovic, Director of the Northern Fund. “Last year, in 2020, we raised $580,000.  Already, in fiscal year 2021, we’ve raised $683,000.”

Much of this growth can be attributed to the NIU Foundation’s Day of Giving program implemented in 2019, but other factors have fueled growth as well.

“The pandemic has been a factor,” shares Adzovic. “We’ve relied more on digital giving opportunities during this season and have found that many people are comfortable and prefer giving online. This is the future of our direct response program.”

That growth has inspired the NIU Foundation’s new crowdfunding program.

How Crowdfunding Works

Crowdfunding is not new, of course. This method of raising funds has been common for years, popularized through sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe.  However, it has just recently become popular in higher education fundraising.

“We see great potential in crowdfunding at NIU,” shares Adzovic. “The platform allows us to work with campus partners to conduct targeted, goal-oriented and time-sensitive campaigns that harness the power of volunteers and their individual networks.”

A key difference between crowdfunding and the NIU Foundation’s traditional methods of fundraising is that crowdfunding is driven primarily by volunteers reaching out and amplifying a cause to their individual networks, as opposed to communications being institutionally driven.  The dollar goal for crowdfunding campaigns tends to be smaller—commonly between $3,000-$5,000. These funds usually support very specific initiatives, such as student travel to conferences, research projects, and scholarships.  The duration of a typical campaign is four weeks.

“We see crowdfunding being a great fit for many of our campus partners to fund needs for which we wouldn’t normally fundraise through traditional methods,” shares Adzovic. “We also view it as an excellent way to attract new donors to NIU.”

Crowdfunding Cycles

The NIU Foundation will conduct crowdfunding in cycles, meaning that all campaigns will occur together within defined time periods in the fall and spring. This first cycle will take place April 1 through May 3. The inaugural cycle is serving as a “soft launch” and features campaigns to support the Child and Development Family Center, an alumni mentoring program named in honor of Dr. LaVerne Gyant, and NIU Esports, among others.  See current campaigns at https://crowdfund.niu.edu.

“We have a lot of exciting projects for our first cycle,” shares Adzovic. “This soft launch will be a learning experience and a way to iron out any kinks before we make crowdfunding available to the broader NIU community.”

Future Plans

The NIU Foundation expects to fully launch their crowdfunding program in Fall 2021.  For more information about this initiative, please contact the Northern Fund office at [email protected].