GeorgiaFunder Frequently Asked Questions
What is the GeorgiaFunder?
GeorgiaFunder is the University of Georgia’s crowdfunding initiative. UGA and its colleges, schools and academic units can showcase their prospective projects and outline funding priorities. Donors can then choose specific projects of interest at UGA to support. All gifts to featured projects are part of the annual Georgia Fund campaign, and GeorgiaFunder is simply a platform to allow donors to choose where their dollars make a direct impact at UGA.
GeorgiaFunder projects advance innovation, teaching, service and learning at UGA – including those focused on student groups, student experience, athletics, libraries or faculty-specific initiatives – and have a specific deadline that creates a sense of urgency.
GeorgiaFunder is a new platform launched in the 2014-2015 academic year. Procedures, policies and expectations are subject to change.
How is GeorgiaFunder different from other crowdfunding platforms?
Purpose: You are participating in an innovative philanthropic project hosted by and benefitting students and faculty at UGA. Commercial crowdfunding platforms are more about the launch of entrepreneurial products and services. Funds raised through GeorgiaFunder are charitable gifts which directly benefit UGA programs and organizations.
Giving and Benefits: Your entire gift is a tax-deductible contribution to the UGA Foundation. Some third-party crowdfunding sites offer a variety of “giftbacks” and benefits for supporting projects at increasing levels. Because of the charitable intent behind GeorgiaFunder, tangible benefits and perks for various levels of support are not a component.
Immediacy: Each gift is directed to the respective program or project you support. Most crowdfunding sites only charge your credit card when total pledges reach a dollar goal. Your gift through GeorgiaFunder goes to work immediately. Some projects will have deadlines and very specific goals; others may be ongoing.
How do I participate as a donor?
After selecting the project(s) you wish to support, choose a dollar amount to give (there is a $10 minimum). Complete the online giving form with your payment information, and then spread the word! You can share your support of GeorgiaFunder projects on social media, through email or even published on your own blog or website encouraging others to support projects at UGA as well.
How do I support a program that’s not listed as a GeorgiaFunder project?
There are thousands of ways to support UGA. Visit our online giving page and use the drop-down menus to select a school, college or academic unit. You can also search for specific funds within each program or even look for funds by key word.
When will my credit card be charged?
Your credit card will be charged immediately.
Can I send a gift by mail or phone?
Yes and No. You can certainly mail a gift to the UGA Foundation for any designated purpose at UGA. But to ensure that you are credited as a “backer” of a specific GeorgiaFunder project, your gift should be processed online through the GeorgiaFunder portal.
I had trouble with the online gift transaction. Who can I call?
Contact the Office of Development at (706) 542-8176 or toll free at (888) 268-5442 for assistance.
Where does my gift go?
Your gift will support funds at UGA held by the UGA Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3). All gifts to GeorgiaFunder projects are directed to funds as indicated in the online giving process and receipt. One hundred percent of your gift will benefit the program you support.
What happens if a project doesn’t reach its goal?
GeorgiaFunder is different from other crowdfunding platforms in that all gifts are processed to benefit a program area at UGA even if a featured project has yet to meet its dollar goal. While some projects will have specific goals and timelines, others may be ongoing.
Who is eligible to launch funding projects on GeorgiaFunder?
Any member of the UGA campus community (faculty, staff and students) are eligible to launch qualified fundraising projects by working through the unit’s respective development officer (who will serve as the project owner) and the Office of Annual & Special Giving. Projects must meet approval and have support of the project owner and the benefitting school/college/unit leadership. Projects must be funded through existing UGA Foundation accounts to advance the University’s mission of teaching, research and service. Gifts programmatically benefit students and faculty at UGA and cannot directly support personal gain of any individual.
How can I or my UGA organization participate in GeorgiaFunder with a funding project?
• Is the project viable?
o identified as a true academic need for the university and the school/college/unit
o something donors would actively seek to partner with you to make happen
• Is the project achievable?
o realistic in time and dollar goals
o feasible to fund through many smaller annual gifts as opposed to a few donors making more significant contributions
• Is the project approved by your dean, director and the development office?
o formally or informally – internal leaders are aware and supportive of the effort
If your answer to all of the above is “yes,” then…
Contact the development officer in your school/college/unit or reach out to the office of annual & special giving to explore the possibilities for your project. We will ask you more questions about your project to assess its viability as a successful GeorgiaFunder project. It is easier to assess project potential if you share photos, videos, names of project beneficiaries and details about established support for the project. Projects must have marketability/buzz appeal and the potential to become viral on social media (at least among your existing networks). Let us know how your project tells an inspirational and unique story.
How do groups access the funds they raise?
All benefiting programs retain their UGA Foundation funds raised through GeorgiaFunder even if the project goal falls short. Development officers and business managers in your respective school, college or unit can ensure proper University fund disbursements are managed to direct budgetary support to your project.
Who decides that a project will be added to GeorgiaFunder?
A team comprised of UGA development marketing and fundraising staff will review applications and approve them based on project essentials: project team commitment, school/college/unit endorsement, project appeal and goal achievement potential.
What is an appropriate funding goal for projects?
A recommended fundraising goal is between $2,500 and $25,000. We will consider each project’s goal on a case-by-case basis. Obviously, your mileage may vary depending on the number and capacity of your donor contacts, the quality of and interest in your project and your effective marketing of the giving opportunity.
So if I launch a project on GeorgiaFunder, does this guarantee fundraising success?
No; but you knew that, right? A UGA development officer can work with you to outline project goals, establish a timeline, prepare collateral materials and acquire necessary approval to launch your project. Your development officer will serve as a project owner in GeorgiaFunder to launch the project and monitor results. Your involvement as a project leader, however, determines the success of your GeorgiaFunder campaign. Some best practices include:
1. Make your own gift
2. Promote the project through your organization
3. Share on social media networks
4. Provide updates on GeorgiaFunder about the progress and outcomes of your success
5. Monitor and respond to comments from your project backers.
This sounds like a lot of work – can I just do crowdfunding on my own through some other website?
No and Maybe. The official policy for fundraising through the UGA Foundation states that “Fundraising direct marketing campaigns, unless approved by [the Office of Annual & Special Giving], will not be conducted elsewhere on campus or through outside private or volunteer contractors.” That means you can’t hire an outsourced professional calling center or launch a Kickstarter campaign under the auspices of raising money for the UGA Foundation without express permission.
There may be situations where using an outside platform is viable and even the best alternative. However, we are better served as a University and as its supporting Foundation when all fundraising efforts are channeled through existing giving structures and policies. Campus representative should take caution in using external crowdfunding websites to support any UGA programs for multiple reasons:
1. Gifts generally aren’t tax-deductible when made to external crowdfunding sites.
2. Gifts received by UGA from a crowdfunding service are most likely to be credited to that company–not from the originating donor.
3. The external crowdfunding model is transactional. If projects are not fully funded, the pledges become null and void.
4. External crowd funding sites rely on trust placed between the project owner and the would-be donors. In most cases, money raised in a successful campaign is then routed through the project owner, not directly to UGAF. Clearly, this introduces liability and ethical concerns.
5. Donors can pledge on external crowdfunding sites without providing all the information needed to match with UGA’s alumni/donor records. This disconnect creates problems for gift accountability, fundraising totals, alumni participation figures and donor stewardship.
My question is apparently not frequently asked. Who do I call to get it answered?
Start with the development officer who works with your academic unit, school or college. Or contact:
Anna Gray | Annual Giving Development Officer | 542-8147 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Harmelink | Associate Director of Advancement Services | 542-6902 | email@example.com
Kellyn Willis | Development and Alumni Relations Communications | 542-3226 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Scott | Director of Financial Services | 542-5787 | email@example.com
Derek Clark | Senior Director of Advancement Services | 542-9014 | firstname.lastname@example.org
David S. Jones | Executive Director for Annual Giving & Constituent Development | 542-8131 | email@example.com
If your question is about a specific GeorgiaFunder project you want to support, the contact information for the project owner is on that project’s webpage.
I’m a UGA Development Officer. How do I get this project started?
After working with the project lead and determining that the project is viable, achievable, and approved – go here.