University launches new crowdfunding platform

Casey Mccarthy

WKU launched its own crowdfunding platform on Monday to fund projects by students, faculty and staff including study abroad trips, research equipment and gear for teams and clubs.

Heather McWhorter, director of leadership annual giving at WKU, and Jennifer Pyle, associate director of leadership annual giving, have been working on the platform since January.

The new platform, SpiritFunder, uses Buzz-well, a crowdfunding platform for college development offices.

McWhorter said they saw this as an opportunity for those on campus to have a chance  to feel as if they are having a direct and positive impact.

“We would love to see it become another vehicle, just like our online make-a-gift page, just like our direct mail pieces we do, where people can really feel like they’re a part of something and really feel like they can make a difference,” she said.

McWhorter said the platform will not have any fees attached for the first year in a trial run. She said she hopes it can remain that way after the trial and allow people who can’t necessarily make a large donation feel they have made an impact.

Ashlea Moses, a sophomore film major, said the platform is definitely something she would use once she learned how to do so.

“Film students need to go out and make projects that aren’t just class projects, so getting funding for that would make it a lot easier and will help in the career field,” Moses said. “So I think that’s a really great idea.”

Pyle said while SpiritFunder will be used for mostly student projects, it’s a great platform for projects faculty members are working on.

“Ideally, this is going to turn into a way that benefits our students, first and foremost,” Pyle said. “But, we want our alumni and our broader WKU community and friends to feel engaged and up-to-date on the really cool things that are happening on campus and feel like they can have a direct and positive impact.”

Campuses across the country have launched crowdfunding platforms of their own already, for various purposes, McWhorter said. McWhorter and Pyle both said they were eager to see the site launch on Monday.

“We’re just really excited,” McWhorter said. “We have a couple of really great projects we’re excited to launch on Monday that I think the entire campus will want to get behind.”

McWhorter said this platform will grow to be as big as students, faculty, and staff want it to be.

“I think as everyone starts to see this in action, the wheels will start turning and they’ll think, ’Oh, we’ve got this coming up; we could use crowdfunding to support that,’” McWhorter said. 

Reporter Casey McCarthy can be reached at (270) 745-0655 and [email protected]