Grey College Launches Crowdfunding

By Nathan Young

Grey College has launched its own crowdfunding platform, allowing students to suggest projects and see them fundraised.

The platform, named Great Ideas (greatideas.hubbub.net) aims to raise money for improved disabled access to one of the College buildings. Anyone can donate to the project, with rewards for those who give over certain amounts, ranging from £10 for an electronic thank you to £2000 for the ability to name a room. The campaign lasts until 4th February and at the time of writing, stands at £1114, with a lower goal of £3,000 and an upper goal of £10,000.

Crowdfunding is a relatively new form of fundraising, which focuses on engaging a community. Anyone can donate and usually, the majority of funding comes from small donations (~£20). Those who donate can get in touch with the creators and in some way shape the project that they love. Usually, a key element of a crowdfunding campaign is a narrative hook, showing people how they are indispensable to a project. Likewise for many platforms, if the necessary amount of money is not raised, the project will not go ahead and no one will be charged. Both of these aspects give the project an urgency beyond a normal crowdfunder – if people want to see an idea succeed, they cannot sit on the sidelines.

Crowdfunding has had an explosion of growth over the past few years. Websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have raised billions of pounds by connecting creatives and enthusiastic supporters, while charitable crowdfunders such as GoFundMe, the world’s largest crowdfunder in terms of donations, allows people to easily create pages to fundraise for marathons, skydives and expeditions. Hubbub, the designers of the Great Ideas platform, cater specifically to the university crowdfunding market.

It is obvious that there are many possibilities for this technology in universities, whether that is raising money for new rugby kit, or supporting charitable activities in and around Durham. Any member (student or staff) of Grey can submit a project and anyone with the permission of either the Grey Master or the University Chief Operating Officer can create a project through the same process. Anyone can back a project, whether supporting it financially or sharing it in their social media network. It is said that a share is worth about £10, so everyone who supports can contribute to the project’s success.

Fountains Hall stands at the back of Grey, near the Biology department, and contains the College chapel, theatre and music rooms. Opened in 1971, it was built when the College was under a third of its current size. It is being refurbished this year with a refit to the stage and several new music rooms and so money is being raised to improve the disabled access. The project would introduce a toilet and lift; if the project reaches £3,000 there will be a full wet room and shower, for £10,000 there will be a disabled lift. The project is being run by Steve Gregory, an alumnus and Peter Swift, the College Vice-Master.

Over the coming months, several other projects will be announced, looking to improve other areas of College life. A core aim is to get students to create projects for themselves, with the crowdfunder to run self-sufficiently after a time. This will give students organisational experience, forge links with alumni and hopefully, by giving students more control over funding possibilities, it will allow new sports, societies, services and opportunities to flourish.

If you are interested in running a crowdfunding project, whether you are at Grey or not, please get in contact with Nathan Young at great.ideas@durham.ac.uk

Photograph: Richard Cooke, Creative Commons

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