Increasing number of campus projects crowdfund using HornRaiser

Eunice Ali

More members of the University are using HornRaiser — the University’s official crowdfunding platform — to fund their projects, according to Marsha Reardon, student philanthropy and special campaign coordinator at the University Development Office.

Anyone with a University affiliation and access to a gift account through the University can apply to fundraise through HornRaiser, Reardon said. If selected, the group or individual will work closely with development offices in their respective colleges during preparation and the 30- or 45-day crowdfunding period. While other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe offer opportunities for some tax-deductible donations, HornRaiser donations are always tax-deductible.

“Basically what we’re trying to do is to [give] these neat projects on campus — faculty, staff, student projects that might not have had a chance to be recognized and to get funding that they need — … an outlet to fundraise to meet their goals,” Reardon said. “This is a great way for us to showcase … neat things that people might not know about at the University, but then also to give people the opportunity to give back and help these groups out.”

Launched in fall 2014 and supported by over 1,770 donors, HornRaiser has raised over $344,000 and crowdfunded 31 projects in colleges across campus, the Office of the Provost and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

Stephen Martin, interim department chair and chemistry professor, received $25,000 from a single donor, the largest gift ever donated through HornRaiser, for his Alzheimer’s disease research in the spring.

Martin’s research group discovered a chemical compound that “can enhance performance on learning and memory tasks in mice” which the group aims to study further. The group aims to prevent progressive loss of the structure or function of neurons in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.

Konrad Werzner, president of UT Solar Vehicles Team and an electrical engineering senior, is currently raising $15,000 for “BeVolt,” his team’s solar-powered car named to honor Bevo that will join the 2016 American Solar Challenge.

Werzner said the car is “90 percent self-designed and self-built” with parts including a self-rechargeable battery pack and 3D-printed models.

HornRaiser’s platform is set up by ScaleFunder, part of a California-based parent company that provides crowdfunding services for universities and nonprofits.

“Digital fundraising as a whole is becoming … a critical piece of an overall fundraising program at universities,” Rosa Conrad, senior client solutions consultant at ScaleFunder, said.