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New HornRaiser Crowdfunding Platform Helps Students Tackle Global Issues

Giving News

Students at The University of Texas at Austin are taking advantage of HornRaiser, the university’s first crowdfunding platform, to garner community support for extracurricular projects they hope will change the world.

One group of McCombs School of Business students is using HornRaiser to finance a trip to Belize, a developing nation in Central America. There, they plan to help local vocational students create business plans and secure micro-loans. Another group of students will represent Texas in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. They will design an 850-square-foot solar-powered house for the competition. The house will become part of the Alley Flat Initiative in East Austin.

“We’re happy to have the opportunity to share our message of sustainability, energy efficiency and affordability with the entire Longhorn community. Fundraising is pivotal, and the enthusiasm and support we’re going to be able to generate on HornRaiser will help our team be successful in next year’s competition,” said Jessica Janzen, a School of Architecture graduate student.

Engineering and social work students use HornRaiser to help buy materials and supplies to build basic health and safety infrastructures for a community center and clinic in Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of the International Office.

Hands-on opportunities like these are vital to a well-rounded and enriched educational experience. While the university does not have the bandwidth to support every initiative on its own, the hope is that HornRaiser can help fill some of the gap.

HornRaiser provides the campus community — students, faculty members, and staffers — a vehicle for raising philanthropic funds by leveraging their personal networks for initiatives that might not otherwise become reality. Similar to Kickstarter in the entrepreneurial world, HornRaiser is designed to help support innovative ideas in the higher education sector.

Donors who invest in these projects are treated as insiders, receiving special progress updates and exclusive benefits. For example, a limited number of sponsors of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team — a project by students from across engineering and computer science disciplines to build a fully composite plane — can receive private lab tours and flight demonstrations.

After an application process, four project campaigns were selected based upon the strength of the cause and the project leaders’ networks and commitment level. Operated by the university’s Annual Giving Programs team within the University Development Office, each campaign initiative set a goal of up to $20,000 to run for 30–90 days.

“HornRaiser allows motivated project champions to engage their networks for charitable gifts in support of their passion,” said Adrian Matthys, director of Annual Giving Programs. “This is just one more example of how The University of Texas is empowering its community to change the world, one project at a time.”

For more information on supporting a current HornRaiser project, go to hornraiser.utexas.edu.

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