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CSU 'Charges' into crowdfunding arena

June 14, 2013

Colorado State University has become the first university in the state to open a web-based crowdfunding platform to potential donors.

CSU has become the first university in the state to open a web-based crowdfunding platform to potential donors.

“The overall goal of Charge, the CSU crowdfunding platform, has been to build a more technologically advanced way of giving while creating a more intimate experience for the supporters of CSU,” explained Meg Weber, executive director of Annual Giving and Donor Relations. “It allows donors to directly support specific projects at CSU, so their dollars can have an immediate impact in areas where they feel a deep connection with CSU.”

For the beta test of the platform, which went live on June 14, 10 projects developed by students in the Venture Accelerator program in the CSU College of Business’ Institute for Entrepreneurship have been packaged with videos and detailed project information and posted on the Charge website. From an innovative system for carbon sequestration through algae farming to a new approach to outdoor fitness equipment, high-quality longboards for urban transportation to temporary renters’ paint -- and the ultimate solution for the perfect s’mores – these projects define the creativity and passion that donors to Charge can encourage and support with gifts beginning at $10.

100 percent to projects

“Unlike similar crowdfunding programs in the private sector that only fund projects if a certain goal is met, Charge directs 100 percent of gifts to the project designated by the donor, whether the goal is reached, or not,” Weber added. “All gifts will be processed immediately and deposited into the project account in the CSU Student Business Advancement Fund. Some projects will have specific goals and timelines, others may be ongoing, but all the projects funded through Charge will further the land-grant mission of Colorado State.”

This initial 30-day beta test phase of Charge will be followed by the roll-out of additional projects from the College of Engineering’s interdisciplinary School of Biomedical Engineering. The ultimate goal is to be able to roll out the Charge crowdfunding platform to other colleges, departments and units across campus in the fall. Charge will be administered through CSU’s annual giving office.

“This crowdfunding initiative shows, once again, that Colorado State and our students are on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Brett Anderson, vice president for University Advancement at CSU. “We are now offering our donors another avenue to provide support directly to the colleges, programs, and specific projects at the University that are most meaningful to them. Our crowdfunding approach is very personal, will have an immediate impact on the lives of our creative students, and provides a very tangible way to demonstrate the impact of each gift.”

Partnership with Community Funded

Charge combines the long-standing business practices of the Division of University Advancement with a proven crowdfunding system developed in Fort Collins by CSU alumni. CSU has partnered with Community Funded LLC and its “Empowered By” product to create the Charge platform. During the High Park Fire in 2012, Community Funded facilitated giving of tens of thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations, from volunteer fire departments to relief and rebuilding agencies. Empowered By allows other organizations, such as CSU, to take advantage of Community Funded’s experience and expertise to build their own community of crowdfunders.

Although crowdfunding platforms all across the world raised an estimated $2.8 billion for individuals, businesses and nonprofits in 2012, only a handful of U.S. universities have added the option to their fundraising efforts to date. Many others are still in the planning phase while Colorado State has embraced Charge.

For more information about crowdfunding at Colorado State, contact Meg Weber at (970) 491-7737. View all projects currently available for funding through Charge.

Contact: Charisse Bowen