Big Data, Crowdfunding and the Fundraising Technology Craze
And while most of the gifts came in at $100 or less, McCarthy was surprised that 39 gifts of more than $1,000 were given, three of which were $10,000 gifts and two more of at least $5,000.
“We just never expected that the larger, more leadership-level donors were going to be inspired to make their gifts through this crowdfunding site,” she says. “But they were, which was great. And of course, it added to the fun of the experience.”
Oh, and then there was the $175,000 gift from the Mars family, which brought the total to nearly $300,000.
There were many things Vassar learned through this crowdfunding campaign. One, which it was prepared for at the recommendation of Illinois Wesleyan, was to have staff assigned to responding to messages coming in about the campaign. From the moment the Vassar500 launched to the moment it ended, McCarthy says, people were calling and writing in about the campaign. So having staffers on hand to handle those inquiries and conversations was vital.
Another lesson was that not everyone was comfortable making gifts through the crowdfunding platform. It was an unfamiliar vehicle for them, so Vassar allowed those folks who wanted to participate but weren’t comfortable with the crowdfunding site to give via the phone or through the mail. Piggybacking on that, some donors called in and said they wanted to make pledges but that there was no option to do that. Some supporters were traveling or out that day and didn’t have their credit cards but wanted to participate, yet they couldn’t without a pledge option — something Vassar has taken into consideration.
And of course, McCarthy wonders what the longer-term effects of the campaign may be on the donors who participated. Because crowdfunding campaigns typically result in smaller gifts, would it mean donors who gave last year and then again gave through this campaign would give less overall? It’s a concern for sure, but McCarthy also says the main goal of this campaign was participation. So while she’s keeping an eye on those longer-term financial implications, she is very pleased with the campaign’s outcome.