The annual UConn Ignite crowdfunding campaign, which gives students an opportunity to raise money for causes important to them on campus, begins Monday, Feb.12.
“We want to encourage student and young alumni participation in giving back to UConn,” UConn Foundation Assistant Director of Student Philanthropy Lauren Grabowski said. “Ignite is about reaching out to your personal networks to spread your personal message about why you’re raising money for something that you care about.”
Ignite participants most often include student organizations who participate to raise money for their chosen cause, Grabowski said. Any group of students can apply to participate if there is a cause on campus that they care about and that impacts UConn and UConn students.
“If students want to get involved, they can either join up with a team that’s already participating and help spread the word, they can make a gift and support a team or they can attend Ignite Day, which is taking place on March 8,” Grabowski said. “We’re going to be giving away t-shirts, freebees, food and we’re going to be encouraging all of the students and faculty and staff to come check out the teams and hear their fundraising pitch.”
The UConn Foundation has continually encouraged fundraising through the Ignite program to have student fundraising occur in an organized and straightforward way, Grabowski said.
“We really wanted to provide (students) with the tools,” Grabowski said. “We’ve had a lot of student groups who have participated in Ignite who have gone on and continued to give back, so that’s really important to us.”
UConn Ignite also acts as a way to foster recurrent giving to the UConn Foundation and UConn programs, Grabowski said.
“We want to teach students about the power of philanthropy and about how their experience here at UConn is impacted by the generosity of donor,” Grabowski said. “When they can fundraise for their own cause, it is much more personal, and they are much more likely to give back in the future after they have graduated. We are trying to encourage that culture of giving.”
There is room for the program to grow, Grabowski said. There are currently 33 groups participating in Ignite, and in the future, the UConn Foundation hopes to include many more of the hundreds of organizations here on campus.
“Right now, Ignite has been very successful and we are very proud of it, but I think the more access the students can have to this competition, the better,” Grabowski said. “We will be opening up applications again next fall for the following spring, so we encourage people to contact us, or check it out if they are interested in fundraising. It is really about building for the future of your club, too, so we want to make sure we are giving students the groundwork for their clubs to grow and thrive.”
The Ignite crowdfunding campaign raised $60,000 last year and there were 2,306 donors, half of whom were current UConn students, Grabowski said. There is also prize money awarded.
“$10,000 is awarded; we give a first, second and third place for the highest number of current student and young alumni donors,” Grabowski said. “That is really to encourage young people in giving back.”
Other prize money is awarded through a prize vault system that allows students to win money by participating in a variety of marketing challenges via social media, Grabowski said.
There are teams that participate in Ignite annually, including last year’s winner the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, Grabowski said.
“Last year they raised $10,000 towards the Violence Against Women Prevention Program through the Women’s Center, which is phenomenal,” Grabowski said. “We love to see that.”
UConn Ignite runs from Feb. 12 to March 25, 2018, according to the UConn Foundation website.
“This year our goal for Ignite is to have a really successful program again and to continue to see growth in dollars and the number of donors,” Grabowski said. “We want to continue to attract more students to give back and be involved this year.”
EllieAnn Lesko is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.