Crowd Power


Day of Giving puts crowdfunding to work for Dickinson

by Matt Getty

Last summer more than 1 million people poured ice water over their heads, recorded it and posted the videos online. Such was the power of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a fundraising campaign that—in addition to flooding your Facebook feed with dozens of soaking-wet, shivering friends—generated more than $22 million in donations for the ALS Association and put the concept of crowdfunding securely into the mainstream.

Though this phenomenon of tapping large numbers of people for support may have only recently made headlines through the Ice Bucket Challenge and popular websites like Kickstarter, it’s nothing new at Dickinson.

“Crowdfunding is what the Dickinson Fund has been doing for years,” says Marsha Ray, vice president for college advancement. “Our cause is Dickinson’s mission of preparing students to become leaders, and the Dickinson Fund supports that through the collective energy of our crowd—the Dickinson community.”

Through the Dickinson Fund, gifts ranging from $50 to $5,000 from nearly 10,000 alumni, parents and friends of the college account for roughly $5 million of the college’s budget each year. And on April 21, Dickinson will hold its first Day of Giving, an event that focuses this crowd power on a single day. With a goal of rallying 650 Dickinson Fund donors in just 24 hours, the Day of Giving takes the concept of crowdfunding to the extreme—without asking you to douse yourself with ice-water, that is.

“The Day of Giving is about highlighting how gifts of any size can make a big impact,” says Coco Minardi, associate vice president for alumni engagement & the Dickinson Fund. “Bringing Dickinsonians together to support the college on a single day underscores the power we have when this community comes together.”

Beyond its overall goals, the Day of Giving will feature challenges throughout the day. On campus, the new Devils’ Advocates Student Philanthropy Council will be encouraging current Dickinsonians to contribute toward the day’s 650-donor goal through a live WDCV-FM broadcast, by asking students to fill out “Things I love about Dickinson—door hangers, and by giving student donors the opportunity contribute their handprints to a banner that will hang on Britton Plaza.

“Supporting the Dickinson Fund is also a way for alumni to stay connected with the college in a meaningful way,” says Minardi. “Their gift keeps them connected to the faculty and the organizations that defined their Dickinson experience.”

One key difference between the Dickinson Fund and most crowdfunding initiatives, however, is that unlike the latest design for a 3-D printing pen on Kickstarter, Dickinson’s mission is never complete. Accordingly, even though the Day of Giving focuses on a 24-hour period, the goal of the Dickinson Fund is to build connections between the college and its donors that last 365 days of the year and beyond.

“At its core, the Dickinson Fund is about relationship building, and this is how it’s different from most crowdfunding campaigns,” says Ray. “Crowdfunded projects set a goal, supporters donate money, and when the projects reach their goal, the process ends. At Dickinson, our mission never ends. It continues and moves forward with every new class we admit. So when our supporters make a gift through the Dickinson Fund, that’s just the first step in building a relationship that we hope lasts long into the future.”

Read more from the spring 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

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Published April 14, 2015