The average price of attending a public four-year college for a single year was $20,770 for in-state students during the 2017-2018 school year. For students who attended private schools, the average cost shot up to $46,950.
Given these sky-high costs, we’re not surprised to find that several students have turned to crowdfunding their educations.
How effective, though, are these students’ campaigns? Does crowdfunding for college produce any meaningful results?
And, most importantly, how do you put together a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Continue reading to find out how much success students have had with crowdfunding their educations and how you can do the same.
Does Crowdfunding for College Actually Work?
Let’s first address a question many of you are no doubt asking:
Does crowdfunding for college honestly work? Are people actually willing to fund complete strangers’ college educations?
As it turns out, a considerable number of students have been depending on the kindness of strangers to complete their educations.
In 2015, 130,000 GoFundMe accounts had raised more than $20 million by August of that year. That number showed an increase from the previous year, during which 140,000 educational accounts raised $17.5 million.
If the numbers alone aren’t convincing, you can easily find success stories in which students received thousands of dollars in donations. They’ve used their donations to cover the costs of books, school-related travel, and other educational expenses.
What’s the Cost of Crowdfunding Your Way to College?
Some people probably think that crowdfunding is “free.” They assume that doing so is as simple as creating a DreamFund or GoFundMe account and humbly accepting donations.
But here’s the deal:
Crowdfunding comes at a monetary cost. Crowdfunding platforms might allow students to take donations, but these sites have maintenance costs.
Each platform’s fee structure is different. GoFundMe, for example, takes 2.9 percent plus 30 cents for each donation towards personal campaigns. Other platforms may charge more or less.
And there are other costs as well.
Some students enter into contractual agreements which require them to pay back their “investors” a certain amount of money over time. These agreements are known as human capital contracts.
This type of crowdfunding can become a source of stress for some students. Because investors are looking for returns on their investments, students feel pressured to land high-paying jobs once they get their degrees.
Whichever route you go, be sure to factor in the cost of crowdfunding before deciding on your monetary goal. In other words, if you need to raise $10,000, you actually need to raise more than $10,000 to meet that goal.
How Do You Choose a Crowdfunding Platform?
Now that you know that crowdfunding is effective, let’s talk about how you should choose a crowdfunding platform. We’ll start by revisiting a point we made above:
The cost of crowdfunding.
Cost is one of the most important things to consider once you’ve decided to start a campaign. You don’t want to begin a campaign only to find that the platform is too “expensive” for you to meet your goals on time.
For this reason, we recommend that you sift through all of the available platforms‘ pricing information before committing to one.
You should also be concerned about each platform’s clout and purpose. DreamFund and GoFundMe, for example, have seen mainstream success and are geared towards general campaigns.
Some platforms, however, aren’t as popular and are often used for specific purposes. Indiegogo is one such platform. It has a reputation as a platform that people use to fund their entrepreneurial projects.
You can successfully use any platform you choose as long as you build a strong campaign.
How Do You Put Together a Successful Campaign?
So how do you put together a successful campaign anyway? What’s the secret to crowdfunding for education?
Here are our three best tips for anyone who is currently trying to build a campaign:
Define a Clear Purpose
When people donate to strangers’ campaigns, they’re taking a risk. Because they don’t know that they can completely trust these strangers.
And their apprehension is merited. Crowdfunding scams aren’t unheard of.
You can ward off some of this apprehension by defining a clear purpose from the start of your campaign. Refrain from being vague by providing specific details about every aspect of your goals.
Don’t, for instance, just say you want to go to college. Tell everyone which colleges you’d like to attend and what you’d like to study while you’re attending one of them. You should also tell them what your career aspirations are and what impact you think you’ll have in that career.
Figure Out What Separates Your Story From Others
Let’s get real:
There are millions of other people just like you who want to go to college and don’t have the money to do so.
So when you get online and start crafting your story, ask yourself what separates your story from the millions of others out there. Because telling everyone that you can’t afford to pay for college just isn’t convincing enough.
Be As Visible as Possible
Most of the people who view your campaign will live hundreds or thousands of miles away from you. The only impression they’ll have of you is the one you create with your words and images.
Unless, of course, you give them more to see.
Try creating an introduction video for people to watch before they donate. It will give them some sense of who you are as a person.
And don’t forget to share it via social media. Content without promotion does nothing for you.
A Word of Caution: Hold Up Your End of the Bargain
Here’s one last piece of advice for you:
If you take money from donors, hold up your end of the bargain. Donors expect to see you use the money you receive on what you told them you’d use it for.
And don’t think you went get caught in a lie. Plenty of people have taken donors’ money, misused it, and suffered the consequences afterwards. Some of those consequences involved lawsuits or the forcible return of the money.
In order to stay on the safe side here, keep your donors updated while you’re on your journey. Let them know how school is going and continue to show your gratitude.
Thinking of Crowdfunding Your Education?
As you can see, crowdfunding for college isn’t as simple as it seems. But with a little research and hard work, you can build a successful campaign.
When you’re in the midst of campaigning and hit a roadblock, we’re behind you every step of the way, plotting ideas for your success. Just contact us and we’ll rush in to save your campaign.