March 13, 2019
New Crowdfunding Guide Aims to Help Schools Run Effective Campaigns, Prevent Scams

Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education leaders, today announced the release of an online guide to crowdfunding in education. A growing number of schools and districts across the United States use crowdfunding platforms to solicit donations for everything from school supplies and field trips to guest speakers and professional development. With the increase in popularity, superintendents and administrators have been seeking guidance on how to use crowdfunding in the most effective and equitable manner.

The guide, Crowdfunding in K-12: Developing a Vision That Informs Policy, was developed by EdSurge, an education news and research organization that covers the people, ideas and technologies that shape the future of learning, with support from Chiefs for Change. Prior to developing the guide, EdSurge surveyed and interviewed more than 40 school and district administrators, educational experts, and crowdfunding industry leaders. Many of them expressed concerns about how to track crowdfunding campaigns and ensure they are aligned to district priorities as well as how to maintain equity across a school system when some classrooms receive donations and others do not. Administrators said they also worried that crowdfunding might violate district rules or state laws associated with giving to public sector employees, raise issues about the ownership of donated materials, or put districts at legal risk.

“Crowdfunding platforms can be a useful way to collect contributions that support important school district priorities,” Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee explained. “At the same time, we’ve all seen news reports about donors scammed by people accused of fabricating stories and running fake campaigns. We hope this guide will help districts use crowdfunding in ways that protect donors and school systems and that allow administrators to ensure there is equitable funding across the district. Chiefs for Change members believe that funding equity should be a core principle of any healthy school system, particularly where options are being expanded for students and teachers.”

The guide and related resources are designed to help district and school leaders develop a greater understanding of how crowdfunding is used in education, distinguish between various platforms, and develop a crowdfunding strategy that prioritizes transparency and accountability. It includes a set of criteria that administrators value when considering whether to approve a crowdfunding platform for their school system and a comparison chart that outlines how seven commonly used platforms stack up against those criteria. Administrators and others are able to see details about each of those crowdfunding platforms such as who can create a fundraising campaign; the types of donations, money, or goods accepted; and who reviews the content and approves the campaign, whether that is an employee of the crowdfunding platform or a district or school administrator.

“Crowdfunding involves more than a teacher making a request and receiving a donation,” Meg Hamel of EdSurge explained. “Many system leaders want to develop policies that lay out everything from who is authorized to approve crowdfunding campaigns to how to collect incoming donations and track results. The report and toolkit outline key considerations at each phase of the crowdfunding process so that districts can choose the approach that’s best for them.”