Oh my gosh, peeps! The college admissions process is basically over, with college a month or two away for most of you Class of 2018-ers. Congratulations! That means you’re probably packing (or at least making a list of what to pack), just cracking open your required summer reading (…or not), and finalizing the plans on which roommate should bring the mini fridge and which should bring the 800 packs of ramen. Although there’s so much to do during this time to prepare, one of the most important preparations is making sure you can… well, pay your bill. If you’ve already taken out another loan, gotten another job, and exhausted all of your savings, well, that totally sucks, man. But here’s an idea–try fundraising for college costs. Hopefully family friends and acquaintances can spare a dime or two to help a starving college student eat during finals week, right?
Technically, you could go knock on your neighbors’ doors with a bin and a badly drawn “WILL EAT UR NUTELLA 4 TUITION MONEY” sign or something, but after you turn 10 or so, the cuteness of door-to-door fundraising and lemonade stands wears off. Because chubby cheeks can’t get you as many quarters from your neighbors as they once did, many to-be college students have been fundraising on social media through “crowdfunding” sites–and they’ve been successful! A friend of mine has raised $1,480 in just two months to help offset her college costs, and another has raised about $250 to help pay for her plane ticket across the country. Results definitely vary, and determination and some good strategic planning can help your outcome, but if you’re not afraid of asking friends and family for a little cash, look into some of these options to reduce those student loans.
So you’ve probably heard of this “crowdfunding” site. Kickstarter has gotten a lot more popular in recent years for funding large film and technology projects. Although many people know what it is, and strangers are more likely to come upon your page and donate out of the goodness of their hearts, this site might not actually be the best site for college students looking to raise money for living expenses/paying off loans/the like though. Kickstarter is one of the only sites that gives all of your project’s donations back to your donors if your project’s goal isn’t met within the set time frame. So that means if you set a goal for $500, but you only get $499, then you don’t receive any of the money donated to your ramen fund, and you’re basically as well of as you were at the beginning. Oh, and your project can only last from 30-60 days. This means that Kickstarter is less for college students and more for those with projects that have to start with a set amount of funding before “the show can go on”, like film or technology projects, go figure. Of course, this is assuming you’re a college student who’ll take whatever you can get though (like most of us). Think of Kickstarter when you have a brilliant new invention or film you want to get the ball rollin’ on–then it’ll be worth your while.
Indiegogo is also pretty well known but doesn’t have the same pesky rules as Kickstarter does; even if you don’t meet your goal, you still get to keep the moolah you raised. Unfortunately, not all of it though. If you and your project succeed, only 4% of your earnings go to the company, and if you don’t quite meet your goal, 9% goes to Indiegogo. Honestly, this isn’t too horrible, but you have to pay a 3% credit card processing fee and a $25 wiring fee if your campaign isn’t based in the United States on top of that. And your project can only last for up to 40 days. So the fees suck, but if you don’t mind a project limit, Indiegogo could be your match.
GoFundMe is the site I’ve seen college students use most frequently, including my two friends. Like the previous two sites, it is free to sign up. But unlike the other two, you can offer “rewards” to your benefactors (“hey, gimme ten bucks for college and I’ll get my mom to make her famous chocolate chip cookies for you…”) and your project doesn’t have a time limit, so you can keep rakin’ in the big bucks even after you leave home. Akin to Indiegogo, Gofundme does charge a 7.9% + $0.30 per donation fee for all for-profit projects (where your project would fall) and a 9.25% total fee for non-profit projects. So if you want to go with Gofundme, there would be a higher percentage of your earnings going to the company and you would have to provide rewards to the awesome people who donate. But the bright side is that you can continue your project for as long as you want, which is probably why most college students choose this crowdfunding site.
There are other similar crowdfunding sites–Rockethub, Causewish, Razoo, GoGetFunding, Wefunder, and Crowdrise–you should totes check out, but, for college fundraising purposes, your best bet would be Indiegogo or Gofundme because of both sites’ popularity and individual perks. However, if you do decide to fundraise for college through one of these sites, keep some of these small tips in mind: (1) be active on social media–get a Twitter, a Facebook, a Tumblr–but not too active. I recommend posting the links to your donation box once every day or two, so as to attract donors but not annoy the living hell out of your friends and relatives. (Pro tip: Annoyed people with money won’t give you their money.) And (2), pimp out yo’ page! Make it all about you. Stay humble; I mean, you are asking for money, after all. But put your personality into your page… add some photos and maybe even a college admissions essay or two. Brag about some of your accomplishments to convince others that you’re worth the investment, and talk about your future career/educational goals, if you have them already. Show your audience who you are, what you want, why you want it, and why they should help you attain it.
After you’ve done these things, hopefully some donations will start coming in. College is a financial burden for basically everyone, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, now you just have to hope and pray that the odds will be in your favor.
Good luck, grads! And congratulations, once again! Get out there and kick some fundraising booty, and enjoy the last few months of summer before you’re back to crying in the library.