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ONLINE SEARCHER: Information Discovery, Technology, Strategies

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Crowdfunding: Research and Academic Fundraising’s New Era
Volume 40, Number 5 - September/October 2016


If many of the crowdsourcing websites look very similar, it’s because most colleges and universities today use the same software from ScaleFunder (, whose “platform is the digital arm of the Ruffalo Noel Levitz [] suite of fundraising solutions” and currently the largest company providing support for crowdfunding. ScaleFunder, founded in 2012, now boasts having more than 1,800 universities and colleges as clients. Other providers include Blackbaud (, the Drupal developer Skvare (, and Network for Good (, which claims to have provided technical support for organizations, having raised “over $1 billion in donations to over 125,000 nonprofits.”

Using an available software platform allows schools to do fundraising in-house while maintaining control for fraud and funds. It also allows institutions to enlarge their pool of potential donors for other projects and initiatives. And the results are impressive. Here is just a sampling of collegiate crowdfunding sites, most less than 2 years old:

University of Colorado–Boulder


University of Alabama–Birmingham


Marquette University

Boston University

Cornell University

Purdue University

Carnegie Mellon University

George Washington University

University of Delaware


Pepperdine University

University of Arizona

University of Minnesota

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

Missouri S&T

University of Maryland

No Catch 22 for the Vonnegut Library

The Kurt Vonegut Memorial Library (, a privately funded library in Indianapolis, had a problem. It needed a permanent home due to the impending sale of its current building. In addition to a traditional capital campaign, it turned to Kickstarter to raise $99,999. It was touch and go up until the last minute, but at the end of the Kickstarter campaign, 1,498 backers  pledged $117,291.
A library success story!

Nancy K.Herther is the anthropology/sociology librarian at University of Minnesota Libraries, Twin Cities Campus.


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