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University of Missouri

Crowdfunded Mizzou

Crowdfunded Mizzou: Give Direct helps Tigers fund Tigers one click at a time.

crowd on quad

By pooling their resources, Mizzou alumni target specific areas of giving. Photo illustration by Shane Epping & Blake Dinsdale.

You’ve heard of crowdfunding. Now welcome to gradfunding.

Using websites such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe or Indiegogo, everyone with internet access can peruse varied startup projects — movies, tech gadgets, novelty foods, philanthropies — pick one that looks interesting and kick in some cash to help get it off the ground. MU’s version of crowdfunding, Mizzou Give Direct works on the same pooling-resources premise. And all of the projects move Mizzou forward.

Income from the site is growing fast. The latest group to tap gradfunding is an expanding cadre of Mizzou Alumni Association chapters nationwide, says Laura Williamson, assistant director of annual giving.

Chapters often use Mizzou Give Direct to raise money for their top priority — scholarships — Williamson says. Traditionally alumni hold special events to garner donations, but not every prospective donor can get involved. Using the site, chapters seek to expand their network of Mizzou supporters beyond event attendees. “The financial goals chapters set for Mizzou Give Direct vary widely, but they all rally folks in a common cause. Some chapters are building endowments so they can award scholarship funds in perpetuity.” So far, Mizzou Give Direct is employed by chapters in Atlanta, Boone County, Missouri; Denver; Los Angeles; New York City; and St. Louis.

Elsewhere on campus, Mizzou Give Direct helps fund important initiatives and programs. Marching Mizzou can use it to help students with travel expenses. Faculty members can gather support for their research. Campus services such as Tiger Pantry, Mizzou’s food bank, can serve more meals. Alumni can honor favorite professors by raising money to fund scholarships named for beloved faculty.

Mizzou Give Direct launched late in fiscal 2011 and finished the year with 80 gifts. Fiscal 2015 saw 2,937 gifts. Since its inception, with gifts as small as the price of a fast-food meal, the site has brought in $456,168. “Revenue generated this year is up 54.68 percent over the same time last year and up 638 percent over the same time two years ago. We are experiencing phenomenal growth,” Williamson says.