Imagine a 100% student-run figure skating team — no coaches or managers — that is nationally ranked. And wouldn’t it be cool if high-school age girls could travel to Africa to learn more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields? How about helping up to 70 homeless individuals with medical services, haircuts, winter supplies and other necessities?
These wide-ranging ventures came to fruition with the help of UC Berkeley’s Crowdfunding platform, which gives students, faculty, staff members and researchers the tools they need to raise money to turn their grand ideas into reality.
What is crowdfunding? It’s a time-bound fundraising campaign with a specific goal. A large number of people make smaller gifts to reach that goal. Campaigns at Berkeley run for one month.
The crowdfunding team at Cal serves the whole campus community with nonprofit projects: sports teams, service learning organizations, researchers and others affiliated with UC Berkeley are all eligible to pitch their projects.
Berkeley Crowdfunding raised over $650,000 in 2019 and supported more than 70 projects. And the platform has a whopping 70% success rate. GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding platforms only average between a 30% and 40% success rate.
The most recent numbers show that current parents contributed 7% of crowdfunding gifts at Cal, while parents of Cal alums contributed 3.5%. It’s apparent not only from the numbers but also from the impact of the projects that are enriching lives and serving the greater good: every gift matters.
Second-year student Rhea Mehta’s crowdfunding project, Berkeley Women in Business (BWIB), was 109% funded last semester. She served as lead of the campaign that raised funds for the Women in Business Conference this April. BWIB is open to all students, all majors and all genders who support women in the workforce.
“You spend three weeks strategizing and prepping for your campaign,” said Mehta. “That means advertising and marketing your project. We did posters, a video, and a short social media campaign.”
BWIB’s annual conference gives young individuals an opportunity to meet and listen to powerful women leaders in the business industry. Issues of discrimination and inequality are discussed.
Meanwhile, Indu Pereira ’20 has participated in two Berkeley Crowdfunding projects. In the first, she was the lead on the California Mock Trial project, in which donors came together to fund travel to the national championships. Her second endeavor, the Chamber Chorus campaign, is under way this month. The effort calls on the power of many to help fund an international tour for members of the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus.
“What I’ve found out through all this is how much the community supports the campus,” said the business administration and music major. “You directly see that the Cal family values student experiences.”
Want to find out more about Berkeley Crowdfunding, check out current and past projects, and lend your support? Visit crowdfund.berkeley.edu.