Texas A&M Kicks Off ‘Spirit Of Giving’ Crowdfunding Initiative
Tapping into the power of crowdfunding, Texas A&M University is launching another opportunity to invest in the success of its students, faculty and staff.
The Spirit of Giving program, which kicked off Tuesday, allows donors to directly connect with their project-of-choice featured on the new website.
Supporters will be able to contribute to four main areas through Dec. 31: a student emergency fund that helps pay for basic needs, including food and housing; a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program; online tutoring assistance and purchasing professional clothing for a first job out of college.
After the initial push, a few more cycles of giving will follow throughout the year, allowing students, faculty and staff to apply for financial support of their specific programs or organizations.
Many universities across the country have found tremendous success in committing to similar efforts due to the grassroots nature of crowdfunding — it permits individuals or teams tied to a program or initiative to solicit funding by promoting their endeavor through vast networks of people via social media. The idea is for small amounts of money to be raised by a large number of people with social media platforms as the main conduit.
‘History of tremendous giving’
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young proposed using the platform as a quick, efficient way to reach a niche audience directly.
“Aggies have a long history of tremendous generosity,” he said, adding that project-based smaller gifts can make a big difference.
“The Spirit of Giving will empower everyone with the ability to support their passions at Texas A&M at whatever level they are comfortable,” Young said Tuesday in a letter to the campus.
Each selected campaign must fall under a category related to research, student success, student support or other academic-related activities. Processing the funds through the Texas A&M Foundation provides philanthropists with the additional benefit of claiming contributions as charitable donations.
Applications for the next round of projects open online Dec. 1. A committee will review the documents and follow up with questions if needed. Once accepted, project leaders must go through required training before being added to the Spirit of Giving website.
A project leader then will be asked to prepare a story, photo and/or video that best describes why the specific program was selected and what is needed. Each drive will last between 30 and 45 days; officials said a successful effort likely will require one to two hours of work per day by the team leader.
Each individual or team will be responsible for soliciting funds from their own personal networks and contacts. Email lists and other contact information kept by Texas A&M and the Texas A&M Foundation are not provided for crowdfunding purposes.
Justyn Tedder — a senior business honors major who helped start A&M’s Spirit of Giving campaign while working at the A&M Foundation over the summer — said the platform democratizes fundraising as participants promote their idea and donors pick which project they want to help.
“We want this to be as inclusive as possible,” she said. “It’s like a Go Fund Me, but college-style. Anyone can donate — students, family, friends, old donors, new donors, alumni, people who didn’t go to Texas A&M. That’s the coolest part of this process.”
‘Culture of philanthropy’
Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel said the initiative has the potential to help any project or organization on campus achieve its philanthropic goals.
“The Spirit of Giving platform is a great step forward for Texas A&M as it continues to build a culture of philanthropy on campus,” Voelkel said. “As a university so steeped in service and impacting the world in positive ways, I see the ability for deans and their colleges, as well as student groups and individual faculty and staff, to positively impact the world through their efforts on the platform.”
Andrew Card, interim CEO of the George and Barbara Bush Foundation and former White House chief of staff, said he’s “enthusiastically supportive” of the effort as the organization he oversees works with A&M in preserving the legacies of President and Mrs. Bush through support of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, as well as the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Frequently asked questions about the Spirit of Giving are answered online.