When Charlie Anderson was looking for ways to fund his research, he turned to an idea as innovative as his studies. Taking it outside of the lab would help power the work being done inside.
It worked. Anderson, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State, was investigating how farmers could make plants more resistant to drought. The money raised would help support undergraduate work in the lab besides the cost of supplies. In total, Anderson raised more than $5,000, surpassing his original goal.
Anderson was the first to make use of Penn State’s crowdfunding platform, which is set to officially launch at the beginning of 2017. His was one of the handful of “test” campaigns the university has been conducting during the past two years, which have ranged from student study abroad trips to research like Anderson’s.
Geoff Hallett, the university’s assistant director of annual giving, said the platform will be open to all Penn State students, faculty and staff across the branches. The university is working with Community Funded, which specializes in institutional crowdfunding, to host the platform.
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“We’re really hoping that the platform will allow people who have an interesting project to raise money to support those efforts and kind of grow those ideas into something that is bigger and game-changing,” Hallett said.
Hallett said there is no name for the platform, but one will be in place when it launches in January. There is a temporary website, but an official site is set to go live at the beginning of the spring semester. The site will feature a list of current campaigns, Hallett said, besides an archive of past projects.
After completing an application, interested parties will meet with the Office of Annual Giving to discuss the project, Hallett said. Penn State will act as the steward of each campaign, and a specific university account will be set up for each approved project.
Previous campaigns during the test period typically lasted 30 days.
“We make sure that every campaign articulates how the money will be spent regardless of whether or not they reach their goal, just so we’re honoring the donors’ intent,” Hallett said.
Though use is only open to those affiliated with the university, Hallett said anyone will be able to donate and all donations made through the platform are tax deductible.
“What we’re hoping for is that this will allow passionate Penn Staters to raise money for the things that are important to them and find a community around what they’re trying to do,” Hallett said.