A closer look at today’s biggest crowdfunding sites for K-12 and beyond

Crowdfunding, which harnesses the “crowd” to gain needed funding for a product or cause instead of specialized donors, and often enlists the use of social media to increase the so-called virality of a project to make it more successful, is unique for education. In the scope of classroom or school crowdfunding, most donations go to a specific fund or cause, and because the money goes to supporting a larger nonprofit organization, donations may be tax-deductible.

Also, because of the nature of crowdfunding for K-12, its structure typically varies slightly from the usual crowdfunding campaign. Where a product-based campaign might offer the donor first release of the product upon production, most school or classroom projects do not have the same type of tangible product — at least not ones that the community can share. For that reason, these types of crowdfunding campaigns typically offer giving levels or project-specific perks to incentivize donors. Levels usually explain what the specific donation amount will do to help the project, whereas perks will offer individual recognition to the donor for their support to the cause. Sometimes it’s as simple as a handwritten thank you note.

According to marketing blog HubSpot, all institutions should look for these three characteristics in a crowdfunding site before moving forward:

  • Who uses the platform? Most platforms highlight who is the best fit for their platform, so be sure the platform fits your unique needs.
  • What is the pricing structure? Many platforms only reveal pricing if you request more information. However, for those that offer this information up-front, monthly or annual fees, a percentage of the total donation, and additional payment processing fees are standard.
  • What features are included? “Whether it’s peer-to-peer fundraising pages, event ticketing and registration, or CRM integrations, make sure to review all features offered and find the platform that best fits your fundraising needs, not necessarily the one with the MOST features,” writes blogger Taylor Corrado. “Think less is more in this scenario if you’re just getting started with crowdfunding.”

For more tips, check out The 9 essentials of crowdfunding for the classroom.

Adopt-a-Classroom: Primarily a school-supplies funding site, Adopt-a-Classroom lets donors search for classrooms or teachers they’re familiar with (or a subject they’re passionate about) and then donate directly, receiving periodic reports on their funded campaigns. Schools can then use their funding to purchase supplies from the site’s partners, which offer both basic school supplies and technology.

Classy: Classy, a mobile-optimized fundraising platform offers peer-to-peer fundraising pages, fundraising event ticket and registration, as well as fully customizable for branding platform. For those organizations using Salesforce as their CRM, they easily integrate to keep all contacts in one place while adopting Classy into the online fundraising strategy. Classy has a tiered pricing structure, which you can find here.

Crowdrise: Crowdrise specializes in charitable giving, especially for event fundraising, such as for the New York Marathon, Boston Marathon and the Ironman Race Series. One special feature is Crowdrise Impact Points: with each donation, projects receive points that help to promote the campaign to the front of the site. Campaign leaders can also cash in the points for Crowdrise gifts, such as T-shirts. For free accounts, the site takes a 5 percent cut, or charges a monthly fee of $49 or $199 that lowers to 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Next page: More crowdfunding options

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.