Crowdfunding is defined as “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” This practice has been widely used by Universities and Not for Profit organizations to generate support for a wide range of projects over the past several years, and many tools have emerged in the marketplace to support these efforts.

Successful campaigns have moderate goals (average = $5,000), are active for a finite period of time (average = 9 weeks), and have a greater chance of success if 30% of the goal is reached within the first week. [1] The true distinction of crowdfunding as a fundraising channel is its use of volunteers to promote projects via their personal email and social media networks, building awareness by introducing new prospects outside of the institution’s existing reach to compelling ways to get involved and make a difference by supporting a specific initiative.


Bradley University has contracted with MobileCause to host its official, University-approved crowdfunding platform. Working within this platform will ensure all charitable gifts [2] are deposited in a timely manner, the correct gift information is captured in Bradley’s data management system and donors receive proper acknowledgement and tax documentation for their contributions. In an effort to comply with Internal Revenue Service regulations, funds brought in through alternative, unsupported crowdfunding sources may not be recognized as charitable contributions to the University, and donors might not be acknowledged.


Fundraising for separate non-profit, charitable organizations is not permissible using Bradley University’s crowdfunding platform. All funds raised via crowdfunding must go directly to Bradley University for the specific use identified in each approved project. All contributions must provide general or program support and cannot directly benefit a specific individual student, faculty member, or researcher.

Our partnership with MobileCause is the sole University-approved crowdfunding platform. Any crowdfunding campaign or related fundraising activity conducted on an alternate platform (Go Fund Me, Kickstarter, Scalefunder, etc.) may not be conducted in the name of Bradley University. The conduct of any such outside campaign is done at the organizing party’s sole risk, including any tax implications of raising funds on an individual basis.


For initiatives to be considered for a crowdfunding project, the following criteria must be met:

  • Completion of an online application form which will be reviewed and approved by the Crowdfunding committee. Project will then move to next step in the process.
  • Appropriate approval [3] is required.
  • The campaign team leader identified as the liaison to the Bradley Fund/Constituent Relations offices to collaborate on project setup and volunteer training.
  • An existing gift account where the charitable contributions will be deposited after being processed by the Office of Gift Records and recorded in our data management system.
  • A target audience.
  • A clearly defined fundraising initiative, including a specific dollar goal in line with expectations for crowdfunding.
  • An identified group of volunteers who will promote the project through their personal email and social media networks. [4]
  • A clearly defined plan for acknowledging donors [5] and providing regular project updates.

Project requests should be submitted using the online request form on the Bradley giving website: www.bradley.edu/giving. Allow at least four to six weeks from the desired launch date for application review, project design and testing, and staff/volunteer orientation. Consideration will be given to projects that support the University’s Strategic Plan in addition to the overall number and mix of projects currently live or in queue as well as overall fit of the project for the solicitation channel. Constructive feedback will be provided to areas whose applications are not funded.

Once approved, the requesting college and/or division is responsible for providing all content (photos, text for project description, text for volunteer emails, and video if available) to be loaded into the provided project template by the Bradley Fund/Constituent Relations offices, and any costs associated with content creation are the responsibility of the college and/or division. All supplied content will be edited for clarity and adherence to the Bradley University social media guidelines. Additionally, the requesting college and/or division assumes responsibility for promoting this project on their business and personal social media accounts.


[1] http://www.fundable.com/crowdfunding101/crowdfunding-statistics. Accessed October 30, 2013.

[2] The IRS defines a charitable gift as “…a donation or gift to…a qualified organization. It is voluntary and is made without getting, or expecting to get, anything of equal value.” (IRS Publication 526; 2009)

[3] Requests from Academic Affairs requires the approval of the Chair, Dean, Provost, and Vice President for Advancement. Requests from Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Business Affairs requires the approval of the respective Vice President and Vice President for Advancement. Requests from Athletics requires approval of the Athletic Director and Vice President for Advancement.

[4] Volunteers are not permitted to use data management lists or any type of protected data and should rely solely on contact information from their own personal networks

[5] Projects should not include benefits to the donor or promised “rewards” that would affect the tax-deductible status of the gift.