Crowdfunding at RIT

Personal cause.
Immediate impact.

Crowdfunding at RIT helps students, faculty, staff, and alumni fundraise for their RIT-related causes including class projects, club events, athletics, and other university-approved activities.


About Crowdfunding at RIT

Crowdfunding at RIT is a program for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to fundraise for their RIT-related expenses associated with class projects, club events, and other approved university activities. This university-supported program provides the tools and training to harness the power of crowdfunding, today’s most powerful online fundraising technology.

What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a fundraising tool designed to fund a project or venture by raising smaller amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. Crowdfunding is driven through personal connections and outreach. A project’s success is based in part on the amount of personal outreach and social media exposure generated by the project leader/team.

Who is eligible to fundraise for a project on Crowdfunding at RIT?
Project leaders and teams must be directly affiliated with RIT, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni. RIT encourages the use of crowdfunding as a valuable way to promote RIT and its educational and non-profit activities and to engage partners from a broader online community with RIT.

How can I get my project funded with Crowdfunding at RIT?
Teams interested in launching a crowdfunding campaign must submit an online application. [LINK] Approved projects will undergo a two-to-four-week campaign development period. Crowdfunding campaigns will launch for 30 days with typical funding goals of $2,000-$10,000. In that time, project teams will leverage their personal and professional networks through email and social media to raise the necessary funding to reach their goal.

Participants must adhere to these guidelines so that tax-deductible funds raised can be legally received by RIT according to its Gift Acceptance Policy. RIT staff, faculty, and students should remember there are significant potential tax and liability issues for requestors if they choose to engage in crowdfunding activities that are not conducted consistent with these guidelines, and if gifts cannot be received on a tax-deductible basis by RIT.

Crowdfunding at RIT is administered through RIT University Advancement. Any questions should be directed, in advance, to

Criteria and Guidelines

All projects must meet the following eligibility requirements before applying:

  • Projects must support academic coursework, campus initiatives, approved student clubs and organizations, and non-course academic work such as co-ops and extra-curricular academic projects.
  • Projects must be approved by sponsoring department (e.g., College of Science, Student Affairs, Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship). Projects must also include a sponsoring faculty or staff advisor from that department.
  • Projects using significant RIT resources for testing and applied research must seek review and/or approval from the Office of Sponsored Research Services.
  • Projects cannot benefit or be designated to a specific student or individual. Crowdfunding teams must have a minimum of three students involved, helping to manage the campaign. For example:

    > Raising money for the research conducted by one specific individual.
    > Raising money to cover travel costs for one specific student/individual attending a conference.

    > Raising money for a research project being conducted by multiple people or a department.
    > Raising money for a group of students to attend a conference.
  • Projects cannot be used to fund endowments unless approved through University Advancement and/or the Controller’s office.
  • Projects must not request fundraising support to create or promote an individual entrepreneurship or business venture, defined as an ongoing revenue-generating operation with overhead costs.
  • Projects can request support to conduct approved research, customer discovery, and to develop prototypes for testing. If you meet the above requirements, requestors are asked to submit an online application for review and approval by RIT University Advancement.

What you’ll need to develop your project’s fundraising campaign

All teams are required to review a training PowerPoint presentation before accessing the platform which will highlight elements to cover and complete during the campaign. The PowerPoint presentation will be sent via email once your crowdfunding application is received. Teams are required to develop content, such as messaging, video, and photos, to support the fundraising campaign appeal.

Use the about section to craft a compelling narrative that supports your campaign’s message and the mission of your project. Consider summarizing the scope of your project providing a clear and concise idea of what is being achieved. Also, discuss any projected outcomes and future research deliverables expected at the end of your project.

Videos serve as a great visual asset for your campaign. Videos provide campaigns an opportunity to highlight all project participants and demonstrate the importance of their fundraising request. Videos should be posted to YouTube (due to music rights licensing). Videos should adhere to RIT branding as much as possible. Videos are required to be captioned. Be considerate of people, businesses, and organizations you mention, always seek their permission first. Remember no gift can be designated to one specific individual – be mindful not to state this in your video.

Photos should be appropriate to the project and approved for sharing. Photos should be cropped and edited before use.

Campaign Goals
Projects should set goals that might be a stretch, but ultimately are attainable using a solid marketing plan (see below). Asking for too much or too little can affect your project’s chance of success. Approved projects should have fundraising goals of no less than $1,000 and no more than $25,000.

Crowdfunding at RIT’s average gift size for project fundraising goals between $1,000 and $10,000 is $75. As a point of reference, divide your project fundraising goal by $75 to help determine how many supporters you will need. It is better to exceed and increase your goal, rather than fall short of a lofty goal.

To leverage additional networks to support your project, approved applicants must include one or more alumni as your team members.

Crowdfunding campaign duration
Teams will have 30 days to market and promote their project. Crowdfunding campaigns are time-sensitive in nature and will require you to increase your efforts as the days of your campaign begin to decrease. Posting updates and communicating with supporters throughout the duration of your campaign will help maintain momentum.

Developing your marketing plan
Before your project launches its crowdfunding campaign, identify potential early adopters or those who are inclined to support, promote, and champion your project. Projects are likely to succeed when 30% to 40% of your fundraising goal is achieved during week one. Try targeting this audience during week one of your launch.

We expect each campaign to develop a marketing plan. This plan should include a profile of your target audiences (segmented by networks), campaign email templates, and social media posts to share with your fundraising team. Within your campaign’s marketing plan, be sure to include messaging to support campaign updates (increase your goal), announcements (milestones achieved), and stewardship emails (thank you).

We encourage teams to utilize their email account to email their contacts, as that is the most effective way of sharing your message. The University Advancement crowdfunding team may create and distribute an email or social media solicitation, on behalf of your campaign, to targeted alumni as an additional resource to promote your project. Should an email be generated, you will be notified to review it before sending it.

Donor Stewardship
It is a requirement of RIT’s crowdfunding program to steward donors timely and appropriately. The right kind of donor stewardship can very easily inspire a donor to make another gift. As a part of stewardship, we expect teams to:

  • Provide weekly campaign updates
  • Daily donor stewardship (or every time a gift is received)
  • Final stewardship email in the week after the campaign closes

Projects that do not complete their agreed-upon stewardship requirements may risk delaying receipt of funds until requirements are met.

Using your campaign funds
After campaign requirements are satisfied, the RIT Gift Office will process the transfer of funds to approved RIT-designated expense accounts. Expect funds to be available 5 to 7 business days after the completion of your campaign. Your academic department or club/group advisor should assist you with processing your expenses and reimbursements to the designated special account.

Any Questions?
If you have any questions or would like to meet to discuss your project or idea, feel free to send an email to

Submit Your Crowdfunding at RIT Application

Fill out the form to submit an application to Crowdfunding at RIT. After submitting your application, you will be contacted by our staff to learn more about your campaign and help you begin fundraising.

Minimum number of 3 students.
How did you hear about Crowdfunding at RIT?

Please review RIT’s Crowdfunding Application Criteria & Guidelines before submitting your project idea.

By submitting this application to fundraise at RIT, I am electronically confirming that I have read the application criteria and guidelines. Please note that it may take one to two weeks for applications to be reviewed.


Frequently Asked Questions

The individuals/groups associated with the projects on RIT’s crowdfunding site are RIT students, faculty, staff, or alumni seeking support for RIT-related expenses associated with class projects, club events, and other approved university activities.

Yes, the minimum amount for online gifts is $5.

Your payment will be processed immediately when you finalize your gift through the site.

Gifts made via cash or check may be counted towards a group or project and their fundraising total as long as the funds are received before the end of the online Crowdfunding campaign and it is clear that these funds are intended to go towards that specified group or project. If you would like to support a Crowdfunding campaign by submitting cash or check, please print and complete the Crowdfunding Gift Form.

Yes! Official tax receipts are issued to the legal donor at the time gifts are made for outright gifts and pledge payments. These receipts, which may be sent electronically or through USPS, must comply with IRS and include substantiation statements for goods or services received as a result of the gift.

RIT, under IRS law, qualifies as a charitable and tax-exempt organization. If you make a charitable gift to RIT, you may take an income tax deduction. Under current law, contributions to charitable organizations are tax deductible only for taxpayers who itemize. For itemizers, such donations generally reduce taxable income and, therefore, federal income tax liability. RIT recommends you consult with a tax advisor when attempting to claim a charitable deduction. For more information, please visit the IRS website.