’CuseFunder Gives Donors the Chance to Fund Smaller Projects

June 17, 2014
Girls explore the world of engineering in Project ENGAGE.

Girls explore the world of engineering in Project ENGAGE.

Perhaps you’ve heard of some movie star financing his vanity project through Kickstarter, or a teacher raising the funds for an expensive field trip through DonorsChoose. Those are examples of crowdfunding, in which lots of small donations add up to enough to get a project off the ground. Now Syracuse University has launched its own crowdfunding site, ’CuseFunder.

’CuseFunder was developed by a broad team led by Corey Falter, assistant director of annual giving programs in the Office of Development.

“Some donors like to give unrestricted funds, but others like to have more control over what their gift supports,” says Falter. “With a smaller project, it’s easy to see how your gift is making an immediate and tangible difference. And with ’CuseFunder, as opposed to other crowdfunding sites, 100 percent of your tax-deductible gift goes in support of a great project right here at Syracuse.”

The dollar goal for ’CuseFunder projects varies, with a maximum limit of $10,000, and there is no minimum gift level. Fundraising will typically run for four to six weeks, Falter says. The website highlights fundraising progress and how many people have joined each effort in real time. Eventually, the site will include projects from each of the schools and colleges on campus, as well as some other units, but for now ’CuseFunder has started off with three projects—Project ENGAGE, the Climate Change Garden and the It Girls Overnight Retreat. “We expect to add new projects to the site every month or two,” Falter says.

The projects so far are:

Project ENGAGE—Goal: $5,000 by July 30

Project ENGAGE is a two-week summer program in engineering for 7th- and 8th-grade girls. Sponsored by the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the program will serve 64 girls in two one-week camps. Classroom lessons, field trips and hands-on activities will focus on themes that capitalize on the expertise, resources and enthusiasm of SU’s engineering and computer science faculty; showcase local corporations; represent dynamic areas of discovery and technology development; and are relevant to students’ lives. Campers will also have the opportunity to meet with female engineers and learn firsthand about the vital role women play in advancing science and technology and, ultimately, the betterment of society.

Climate Change Garden—Goal: $10,000 by July 15

Located in front of SU’s Life Sciences Complex, the Climate Change Garden (#SUClimateGarden) is the only one of its kind in the country. Containing more than three dozen species of shrubs and trees, this innovative outdoor laboratory analyzes the impact of climate change while providing hands-on training for scientists and non-scientists alike. The research team will equip each species with an instrument that will supply real-time data about plant growth and vitality that, in turn, will be automatically downloaded to a publicly accessible website. The data will enable students to better understand how plants in different climate zones respond to climatic variation and global warming and to learn how to assess and prepare for changes in the severity and frequency of climate variability.

It Girls Overnight Retreat—Goal: $5,000 by July 11

In the United States, fewer than 20 percent of information studies graduates are women. The annual It Girls Overnight Retreat (#ITgirlsROCK) is out to change that. Part slumber party, part hackathon, it’s designed to engage, inspire and celebrate female high school students and their potential in technology. The girls participate in a weekend packed with workshops on industry trends, an overnight technology challenge and keynote talks by notable women in IT. They also share a celebration dinner, overnights in the dorms with iSchool students and a speak-out session. Alongside role models that include prominent women in IT and female iSchool students, faculty and alumnae, the It Girls are encouraged and supported as they explore their interests in an information technology education and career.

The success of ′CuseFunder relies on donors spreading the word through social media and encouraging their friends and family to participate, says Falter. “A lot of people working together can make a big difference.”

To check out new projects as they are posted and keep track of the progress of current project, keep visiting ’CuseFunder.