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Grants and Related Resources: Crowdfunding

A compilation of resources for grant and financial aid seekers.

Crowdfunding at the University Level

More Michigan colleges use crowdfunding for research

Linda Wittbrodt was perusing Michigan Technological University’s website when she stumbled across a faculty project seeking funds to teach senior citizens online skills.

Wittbrodt thought that was cool, so she donated $25 through a new approach the Upper Peninsula university is using: pitching of an idea online and asking people to make a donation, a strategy known as crowdfunding.

Wittbrodt personifies a new source of revenue for researchers in an era when the funding environment for universities is more challenging than it has been in years. Academics who create a proposal, put it online and market it with social media can attract people’s attention — and financial support — for new ideas and research.

For the full artice, see Kim Kozlowski, "More Michigan colleges use crowdfunding for research", Detroit News, August 8, 2014.

Scientists Turn to Crowdfunding

Federal spending on scientific research hasn’t kept up with inflation in recent years, and it’s made it harder for researchers to fund their work. Some of them are turning to another source: crowdfunding. But this funding source raises new questions for scientists.  

, "Scientists Turn to Crowdfunding Sites for Research Money", Michigan Radio, Dec 2, 2014 .

Crowdfunding Propels Scientific Research

As scientists have faced growing competition for a shrinking pot of government research funds in recent years, some are turning to the world of crowdfunding, social media and TED talks to promote and raise money for research that might otherwise never see the light of day.

Although the money being raised through crowdfunding sites is only a fraction of the roughly $435 billion spent each year on research and development in the United States, thousands of scientists are building their brands and research coffers on sites such as,, and others, with the blessing of their universities.

Some examples: Benjamin Longmier, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, has raised $100,000 to build low-cost thrusters capable of sending miniature rockets into deep space. Gail Bishop, a cancer researcher at the University of Iowa, is trying to raise money for a new approach to the disease that hasn’t been tried before — nanoparticles to activate immune cells to fight tumors. She said she has been surprised at how quickly the donations — about $2,000 so far — have come in.  Kathleen Pryer, a Duke University researcher who studies plants important in evolution, has raised $22,000 to study azolla, a plant thought to be important to climate change.

For the full article, see Ariana Eunjung Cha, "Crowdfunding Propels Scientific Research", Washington Post, January 18, 2015.

Jeffrey Brainard, "Want to crowdfund your science?   New study hints at who is successful", Science, March 26, 2018.


Crowdfunding for the Arts

The self-claimed Largest Graffiti Mural in Detroit was painted by artist Kobie Solomon in 2012. It depicts a Chimera, a mythical animal made of parts of other animals.  It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Largest Graffiti Mural in Detroit,, 2014

On a large wall of Russell Industrial Center (an old auto factory turned into artist studios) is Michigan's largest graffiti mural. Measuring 8,750 square feet, the mural is the work of artist Kobie Solomon. It depicts a Chimera, a mythical animal made of parts of other animals. Kobie describes his work as being made of parts of all of Detroit's four major sports teams, as well as parts of Detroit's artistic community. After 1,000 hours of work, Kobie turned to Kickstarter to help fund his final push to complete the mural. Through Kickstarter, Kobie raised over $5,000 in July 2012.

Crowdfunding in the Arts: How to Add This Essential Tool to Your Fundraising Mix.  Webinar. Crowdfunding is quickly becoming a tool in the fundraising toolbox to tap into your network to raise money, faster, from a larger audience. For artists, it can be a great alternative, or complement, to grants and other types of funding. This webinar is designed to give participants an overview of crowdfunding, help you determine if a crowdfunding approach could be right for you, as well as step-by-step direction for how you can take advantage of what a crowdfunding platform has to offer. You will learn best practices to prep, create, launch and market a campaign successfully. The focus will be on the lifecycle of a campaign, from prep through appreciation, with a heavy emphasis on the best ways to market your campaign. The session will share the basics, so that you walk away with concrete steps that you can take to execute immediately.

Introduction to Crowdfunding by WomenArts.  As traditional grants for artists become scarce, creative people are coming up with new ways to raise money. Crowdfunding is a popular new online fundraising technique that you can use whether or not you have non-profit status. Although successful crowdfunding requires a significant investment of time and effort, it can work well if you have strong online networks of fans and friends that you are willing to ask for money.

Can Crowdfunding Replace Artists' Day Jobs?  Article by Elizabeth Weiss appearing in New Yorker, February 10, 2014.

10 Crowdfunding Sites for Artists. Courtesy of the Art News Blog.

Musicians Turning to Crowdfunding

Artists of all kinds are taking advantage of Kickstarter-style platforms to raise seed money for new creative projects.  Learn how to choose a platform, set a fundraising goal, build a supportive community of potential donors, and make a compelling case for your project.

TLC recently announced plans to make their final album – and took to Kickstarter to raise funds for the project.   And the fans came through. As of Thursday, they have received $173,144 in pledges – much more than their initial goal of $150,000.  And at least one famous fan kicked in some cash: Katy Perry donated $5,000 to the project. The remaining members of TLC expressed their gratitude on Twitter. T-Boz tweeted, "A BIG Special THANK YOU 2 @katyperry for her pledge to our #Kickstarter Campaign!" Added Chilli: "Wow @katyperry...thanks so much for pledging!"   Source : Steve Helling,  People, January 22, 2015..

View a Vimeo video by Eleanor Whitney created on October 7, 2014 and provided by the Chamber Music America.

Scott Steinberg, A Beginner's Guide to Crowdfunding, Rolling Stone, May 17, 2012.  With the growing success of services like Kickstarter, RocketHub and Indiegogo, crowdfunding is increasing in popularity amongst musicians, event promoters and filmmakers as a way to raise money for new projects online. The concept allows bands, soloists and managers to post short videos and descriptions of new albums, music videos and works in progress online and ask for cash donations from fans. It could represent a revolutionary new approach to the music business.

Finance Your Music: Crowdfunding for Musicians, Singers, & Recording Artists [Kindle edition available from Amazon]   Insider's Guide to Finding Funding for Albums, EPs and Other Music Projects by Jodi Jill.  2013.

Six Top Crowdfunding Sites for Artists and Musicians.

Fan-Funded Music wikipedia entry

Crowdfunding in the Classroom

Deirdre Sugiuchi, " The 9 essentials of crowdfunding for the classroom", eSchool News, February 10th, 2015.  As funding for public education continues to decline, districts, administrators, and classroom teachers struggle to find ways to fill gaps left by budget cuts. Traditional school fundraising methods, such as gift wrap sales, are time intensive and often only raise a small amount of capital.

Fortunately, the advent of the internet has created new fundraising opportunities for schools and educators. One such fundraising mechanism crowdfunding—uses the collective power of individual donors who are united in support of a common cause or goal. It’s been used successfully by movie producers, startup founders, and others with a truly great idea. Teachers are discovering it, too. In the classroom, crowdfunding can be used to fund exciting projects, purchase technology, or supplement resources.

Crowdfunding might sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually quite easy to implement. Here is what you need to know to get started and successfully fund your own projects.

Crowdfunding Defined

Crowdfunding is a way to raise funds for a specific cause or project by asking a large number of people to donate money, usually in small amounts, and usually during a relatively short period of time, such as a few months. Crowdfunding is done online, often with social networks, which make easy for supporters to share a cause or project cause with their social networks.

Organizations, businesses, and individuals alike can use crowdfunding for any type of project, for example: charitable cause; creative project; business startup; school tuition; or personal expenses.

For more information about crowdfunding, visit What is Crowdfunding via the Foundation Center's Grantspace Portal.

Also see Wikipedia Crowdfunding Entry

Crowdfunding Players : Help fund the next wave of scientific research. . No monthly fees until you raise $5,000 online. : The Crowdrise site is a unique blend of online fundraising, crowdsourcing, social networking, contests, and other ways to challenge donors. It is useful for all types of projects, including filmmaking, however, you must be a 501(c)(3) or affiliated with one. : Deposit a Gift is the easy way to raise money online for anything that matters to you, from organizational fundraising for schools and nonprofits, to personal donation sites for medical bills, personal crises, group gifts and more. :   A crowdfunding site for teachers.

FundRazr : This website is dedicated to raising money for anything from personal causes to nonprofits to entrepreneurial projects. : GiveForward is an online fundraising website to raise money for a loved one in need. They have fundraising coaches who provide fundraising ideas and guidance on how to raise money online.

GlobalGiving.og : the world's first and largest online crowdfunding community for nonprofits. : Billed as the "crowd-funding site for the rest of us." Started in 2008, the site is geared toward community fund-raising and personal fund-raising.  See recent article - Bill Laitner, "Carless Detroiter meets teen who raised $230K for him", Detroit Free Press, January 3, 2015.

IndieGoGo : Billed as the world's leading international funding platform, IndieGoGo is for all types of funding needs, including filmmaking. On IndieGoGo you can create a funding campaign to raise money quickly and securely. Their platform has "helped to raise millions of dollars for over 65,000 campaigns, across 211 countries. : Kickstarter is a funding platform focused on a broad spectrum of creative projects. The Kickstarter economy is based on the offering of rewards – copies of the work, limited editions, fun experiences. Offering financial incentives, such as ownership, financial returns (for example, a share of profits), or repayment (loans) is prohibited. Having a focused and well-defined project with a clear beginning and end is vital in order to receive funding support from the kickstarter community.

LaunchGood : Crowdfunding Incredible Muslims Worldwide : Let's build a better Michigan.  Projects you can help fund.

RocketHub : An international, open community that has helped thousands of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and social leaders raise millions of dollars. : An international, open community that has helped thousands of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and social leaders raise millions of dollars.

StartSomeGood : Crowdfunding for social entrepreneurs, as well as nonprofits and other individuals committed to making change.

Crowdfunding for Students

Financial aid possibilities:

Books, articles, and blog postings

What is Crowdfunding via the Foundation Center's Grantspace Portal.

How to Do Crowdfunding the Right Way, January 20, 2015.  A blog posting from GrantSpace.

A Beginner's Guide to Crowdfunding via Chronicle of Philanthropy (November 12, 2015). The power of social fundraising is becoming more and more apparent. Crowdfunding sites, which allow many donors to give online — usually in small amounts — to a project or cause are an increasingly popular way to raise money. Charitable crowdfunding campaigns have supported an array of causes, from conservation of the space suit Neil Armstrong wore on his historic moonwalk to emergency support for Syrian refugees. Because sites such as GoFundMe, Razoo, or Indiegogo’s new site can potentially reach a wide swath of people, they also can help broaden awareness of your cause.  -- Use of the approach is growing rapidly. Globally, mass online appeals — including both charitable and for-profit projects — raised $16.2 billion in 2014, according to Massolution, a research and consulting firm that releases an annual report on crowdfunding. That’s a 167 percent increase over the $6.1 billion raised in 2013. The firm estimates that global crowdfunding in 2015 will double, reaching $34.4 billion. -- Campaigns on crowdfunding platforms, which have varying costs and capabilities, are generally publicized using social media and can range from fast-paced Giving Days to campaigns that last a month or more. But running a successful crowdfunding campaign requires more than simply clicking a few buttons.  -- Here we’ve gathered some resources to help you navigate the crowdfunding world.

Crowdfunding: A Guide to Raising Capital on the Internet.  Hoboken, New Jersey : Wiley, 2014. 268pp. HG177 .D747 2014eb  Online Resource  Examines crowdfunding, discussing its history, compliance issues, and rules and regulations.

The crowdfunding bible : how to raise money for any startup, video game or project. Scott Steinberg, with Rusel DeMaria ; edited by Jon Kimmich.  [United States] :, c2012.  80pp.  HG4027.7 .S85 2012 Online Resource

Crowdfunding for NonprofitsCrowdfunding is a term that refers to any effort to raise money with donations from a large number of people.  Crowdfunding was first used by entrepreneurs as a way to attract small-sized investments to for-profit ventures, primarily via the internet. Now, crowdfunding is projected to become a $90-96 billion dollar industry by 2025, and is being touted as a valuable tool for fundraising for charitable nonprofits.  This article explains the difference between live and online crowdfunding, and discusses financial and legal issues related to online crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding for Nonprofits.  Answers to five common questions about launching a crowdfunding campaign.

The crowd-funding revolution : how to raise venture capital using social media.   Kevin Lawton and Dan Marom.  New York : McGraw-Hill, c2013.  240pp.  Gast Business Library  HG4027.6 .L39 2013

Crowdfunding Fulfillment Solutions.  Article by Jake Rheude, May 30, 2017.  Crowdfunding has given entrepreneurs and inventors greater access to startup capital. You might not be able to get seed money or Series A funding from a venture capital firm for your idea, but backers on Kickstarter or Indiegogo could give you just the leg up that you need. Crowdfunding has launched everything from the Pebble smartwatch (it was the Apple watch before there was an Apple watch) to the Exploding Kittens card game to movies like Veronica Mars. Increasingly, crowdfunding is used not only by startups, but also by established companies to fund the launch of a new product.

Fundable's Crowdfunding GuideCrowdfunding has helped more than a million startups raise over $3.2 Billion, and is revolutionizing the way small businesses find the capital they need to grow. By putting the tools for fundraising success in the hands of entrepreneurs like never before, crowdfunding is on track to surpass $5.1 billion in 2013 and continue to transform the landscape of business finance. And though modern crowdfunding is still in its early stages, a number of factors and successes are positioning it to become a more and more attractive funding approach for small businesses.

Indiegogo's Essential Guide to CrowdfundingWe worked with our Campaign Strategists to compile all the tips, tricks and best practices of a great crowdfunding experience. With every chapter, you’ll be one step closer to bringing your idea to life.

Kickstarter for Dummies,  Aimee Cebulski.  Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, 2013. 200pp.  Funding Center (1 East) HG4027.7 .C386 2013

"More Nonprofits Are Running Their Own Crowdfunding Drives" available via Chronicle of Philanthropy (September 26, 2017). Charities that conduct their own campaigns on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, or their own websites have greater control over their message than when supporters run the drives — and those groups are raising big dollars and gaining new donors.

"Raising money for scientific research through crowdfunding".  Article by Wheat, Rachel E., Wang, Yiwei, Byrnes, Jarrett E., and Ranganathan, Jai.   Trends in ecology & evolution, 02/2013, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp.71-72. Online article.  In this article we discuss the utility of crowdfunding from the perspective of individual scientists or laboratory groups looking to fund research. We address some of the main factors determining the success of crowdfunding campaigns, and compare this approach with the use of traditional funding sources.

Shopify's Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding.  Looking to build a successful Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign? This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about crowdfunding and the transition to a successful business afterwards.  23 chapters.

TLC Reaches Album-Fundraising Kickstarter Goal with help from Katy Perry.  US Weekly, January 22, 2015.

Search our online catalog or SearchPlus for more possibilities.


Videos and Webinars

Crowdfunding in the Arts Webinar : How To Add This Essential Tool To Your Fundraising Mix. Presented by Dana Ostomel,  founder and Chief Gifting Officer of Deposit a, October 21, 2014. Crowdfunding is quickly becoming a tool in the fundraising toolbox to tap into your network to raise money, faster, from a larger audience. For artists, it can be a great alternative, or complement, to grants and other types of funding. This webinar is designed to give participants an overview of crowdfunding, help you determine if a crowdfunding approach could be right for you, as well as step-by-step direction for how you can take advantage of what a crowdfunding platform has to offer.  In this webinar, you will learn best practices to prep, create, launch and market a campaign successfully. The focus will be on the lifecycle of a campaign, from prep through appreciation, with a heavy emphasis on the best ways to market your campaign. The session will share the basics, so that you walk away with concrete steps that you can take to execute immediately.

Crowdfunding Tips for Nonprofits : Raising Funds and Relationshipss, March 13, 2013.  Jed Cohen, the Founder and Chief Operating Officer of RocketHub, one of the world's largest and most successful crowdfunding platforms, explains how nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns can go viral, how to determine the benefits and risks of these campaigns, and how to navigate a crowdfunding platform. This high-level session will build your knowledge of crowdfunding platforms and provide pragmatic, tangible tactics to raise more funds for your programs.  With Jed are representatives from EastWillyB, an organization that successfully raised $50,000 in 50 days.

Universities Turn to Crowdfunding

"The 20 Best Higher-Ed Crowdfunding Campaigns", Slideshare, February 5, 2015.

"Top 30 College and University Crowdfunding Sites in the United States", March 26, 2015.

Daniel Barnes, "Universities Have Started Launching Their Own Crowdfunding Platforms", USA Today, January 4, 2017.

"3 Methods to Maximize Your University Crowdfunding Platform", MobileCause, January 8, 2018.

Cornell University launched a crowdfunding site in 2013 to woo young alumni and others who weren’t responding to annual-fund appeals. Called "Small Projects, Big Impact," it showcases campus programs that need a financial boost, from the glee club to student teams building unmanned underwater vehicles. The strategy’s working: About 40 of the 50 campaigns so far have reached their fundraising goals, and young alumni are contributing at about triple their participation rate for other Cornell giving programs. A quarter of alumni crowdfunding donors have never given before. The next step: persuading these donors to give again, says Andrew Gossen, senior director of digital innovation in Cornell’s office of alumni affairs. "We’re banking pretty heavily on the notion that this is a way to keep them with us." If alumni drift away, he says, the university will have to fight hard in later years to bring them back as other nonprofits zero in on them. Source : Heather Joslyn, Eden Stiffman, and Timothy Sandoval,  "Follow the Leaders: Learn From Charities Making the Most of Digital Giving", Chronicle of Philanthropy, May 2, 2016.

The University of California at Berkeley launched a crowdfunding page on a pilot basis two years ago, in part to help assert its brand. Many students, alumni, and faculty had been raising money for special projects on third-party sites and touting their connection to UC Berkeley.  The UC Berkeley crowdfunding page features batches of campus-affiliated projects — a women’s ultimate Frisbee team, a volunteer-abroad summer program in Peru — which run month long campaigns. During the 2016-17 school year, 40 projects garnered $380,000, from 2,300 donors. And just over half of those people were new supporters of the university. Source : Heather Joslyn. "More Nonprofits Are Running Their Own Crowdfunding Drives", Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 26, 2017.

Crowdpower: The Crowdfunding Solution for Spartans.  (Michigan State University)

MSU Libraries Use Crowdpower to Raise Money for Rare Book Repairs

Save the Faerie Queene at MSU Libraries

Support the Adopt-a-Book project, and help us ensure that future generations can draw inspiration from The Faerie Queene for many years to come.

The MSU Library Development Office reports: We are excited to announce that we have exceeded our goal of raising $3,500 to conserve a rare, three-volume set of The Faerie Queene! We are so appreciative to every single one of our supporters who generously donated to this cause or helped us spread the word. Thanks to your generous gifts, future classes at MSU will be able to visit Special Collections to learn about this famous work of literature for many years to come. The damaged covers will be repaired, the vellum bindings will be strengthened, and custom-fitted cloth boxes will be created to protect all three volumes long into the future.  For more information about MSU Library Development, contact Seth Martin (884-6446) or Emily Pohl (432-0708).  Also listed on CrowdPower.


Libraries Turn to Crowdfunding

Megan Cottrell. "Libraries Find Success in Crowdfunding", American Libraries, May 12, 2014.

Crowdfunding for Libraries (8 steps). Advice from the Library Incubator Blog.

University of Northern Iowa Rod Library Turns to Crowdfunding.

Lansing Area Crowdfunding Projects

Michigan Avenue Under the Bridge (Successfully Completed)

Michigan Avenue Under the Bridge

After a seemingly endless number of visioning sessions and reports geared around this Michigan Avenue Corridor, it has become painstakingly clear that the Frandor area, and specifically the US127 bridge over Michigan Avenue between Howard Street and Homer Avenue, is seen as a barrier at a pivotal juncture between the cities of East Lansing and Lansing.  The Michigan Avenue Corridor Improvement Authorities of the City of Lansing, Lansing Township, and City of East Lansing have listened, and they are ready to do something about it. The goal is to transform this location from an area seen as sterile, ugly and non-bikable into a vibrant pedestrian and biker-friendly gateway that instills community pride and builds a sense of connection between two great cities.  $50,000 was raised to fund the project.

Beacon Soccer Field in Downtown Lansing. (Successfully completed)

Beacon Field will provide a high-quality, free, open and accessible space that can be used for pick-up games by the community. Like the mini urban soccer fields FIFA funded in South Africa after the 2010 World Cup, Beacon Field will be a gathering place for any and all kids—of all ages, languages and cultures—who love the game.

East Lansing Artist Alleys  (Successfully completed)


View video appeal

With hopes of beautifying and energizing its downtown area, the City of East Lansing is reaching out to the community through crowdsourcing. The city aims to raise $45,000 in an effort to engage community members in creating a place that is “undeniably East Lansing.” MEDC will match $45,000 toward the project if the goal is met by Nov. 12.  The funds will be used to add landscaping, public recycling bins, additional lighting and game tables to downtown plazas and alleys. The city will also commission two East Lansing-themed murals in the area. With donation levels starting at $10, all sponsors will receive an invitation to a grand finale celebration commemorating the improvements made thanks to their support.  Sponsors also have the opportunity to receive special “surprises” and VIP entry to the finale depending on their donation. Any funds raised through crowdsourcing that exceed $45,000 will be used to create a maintenance reserve in order to preserve the improved spaces. This campaign is an all-or-nothing campaign, meaning that donors will only be charged if the $45,000 reserve is met.

Owosso Community Players: Light The Marquee (Successfully completed)

As part of the ongoing restoration of downtown Owosso’s Lebowsky Center, the Owosso Community Players are turning to the community to raise $9,000 to refurbish and modernize the building’s iconic marquee. The marquee will be updated with 900 energy-efficient light bulbs, a new electrical infrastructure, improved drainage and an LED display.  “A re-lit marquee is a key element in the development of Owosso,” says the project’s Patronicity page. “A brightly lit marquee says ‘Downtown Owosso is open!’ and provides visitors with a unique, nostalgic experience simply not common today.”  Donation levels range from $10 to $200, and sponsors have the opportunity to receive perks ranging from one of the original bulbs from the old marquee to VIP entry to the Light the Marquee party on Nov. 6. The Owosso Community Players hope to reach the funding goal by Oct. 31. 


Expanding Our REACH (Successfully completed)

Changing the Face of REO Town by re-purposing five vacant storefronts along Washington Ave into an expanded community art center for youth and adults.

Return the Rapids to Eaton Rapids

Video explaining appeal

The City of Eaton Rapids is turning to the public to help turn the West-Low Head Dam into a fishing and canoe/kayak friendly space. Working in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the City of Eaton Rapids has obtained permits to remove part of the West-Low Head Dam and add a fish ramp and recreational rapids elements. The city has organized a crowdfunding campaign through Patronicity, hoping to raise $50,000 by Dec. 18. These funds, in addition to a $50,000 matching contribution from MEDC and MSHDA if the goal is met, will cover the remaining cost of the project. Donation levels range from $25 to $2,500, and rewards for contributors include such perks as having the donor’s name engraved on a plaque, an invitation to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and personalized photos of the rapids.

Aux Petits Soins: A Little Paris in Metro Lansing

In April, Gaëlle Cassin-Ross launched a French language immersion program, Aux Petits Soins, to introduce Lansing-area children to the language and culture of her native France. She offers several classes per week at various Greater Lansing locations. With demand for her services rising, Cassin-Ross has created an Indiegogo campaign to help establish a permanent home for the program. The campaign’s goal is to raise $15,000 by Nov. 15, with funds going toward renovations and furnishings for a recently secured location on Lansing’s east side. Donations will also allow Cassin-Ross to purchase classroom supplies and other educational materials, including books and magazines imported from France. Donation levels range from $10 to $2,500, and contributors receive gifts ranging from handwritten thank you notes and t-shirts to class discounts and room sponsorships. This is a flexible fund ing campaign — the organization will receive all donations even if the goal is not met.

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