Changefunding student projects

A new initiative reached the University of San Diego this fall, which hopes to facilitate a new process for donor gift giving.

Annual Giving is an on campus office that provides students, alumni, and other benefactors the opportunity to contribute financially to campus needs. There are many options for those who want to make a donation to different organizations and departments on campus. Recently, Annual Giving debuted a new opportunity to give called Changefunding, which allows donors to contribute to student projects.

University affiliates, including clubs, organizations, sports teams, and departments, can apply to have their projects featured on the Changefunding website to raise funds that they might not have been able to access before.

Jessie Szumzki is the Assistant Director of Annual Giving. Szumzki described the new program as a vehicle for students to expand their opportunities through fundraising.

“Changefunding gives students the opportunity to fund projects that might not otherwise be funded by the university, such as something not covered in tuition and fees,” Szumski said. “This opportunity bridges the gap between what the university can afford and what the organizations want to do.”

Szumzki explained that Annual Giving created the new initiative to allow students to use a crowdfunding platform without the fees associated on other websites.

“Offering Changefunding keeps other websites from skimming off the top so that students can have the opportunity to get more funding for their projects,” Szumzki said.

In its most remedial sense, Changefunding is for donors to pick and choose where to put their money. USD students post their projects, go through the necessary channels to get it approved, then appeal to their network of potential donors for funding.

First, a student, group of students, or organization develop an idea for a project. There are three aspects of the application to consider for those applying for a Changefunding campaign: a viable project with goals that fit the core values of USD, an appropriate target fundraising amount, and an existing network to appeal to for funding.

The target fundraising amount is an important part of the Changefunding application. The Changefunding website indicates that projects should have a fundraising goal between $1,500 and $20,000.

“While there are goal parameters, we’re not going to turn away a very good project if their goal is under $1,500,” Szumzki said.

In addition to fundraising parameters and project goals, an existing network is vital to the success of a Changefunding project. Project leaders need to have an existing network to push their message to.

For any students or organizations hoping to get funding through this new platform, they could potentially be waiting six to eight weeks or longer to reap the benefits of the process.

After completing the application, it can take up to two weeks to complete the vetting process. Then, it takes an additional two to four weeks for project leaders to learn the software associated with the fundraising platform and develop collateral materials, such as images, videos, or models. While it takes potentially over a month to get a project properly advertised on the Changefunding site, it could take longer for a donor to actually endorse it.

The vetting process is primarily handled by the Changefunding Campaign Committee, and also includes the approval of the department that a proposed project is related to.

“A lot of the vetting process will be through the department of [the] school through which the project will run through,” Szumzki said. “Right now, it’s staff and a lot of people working together [to vet projects]. Eventually, we want to expand and have more of a committee.”

The Changefunding Campaign Committee does not currently include students or faculty from a related department or organization.

Szumzki also explained that there are two branches of the Changefunding initiative.

“Athletics will have their own site, and then there is also a separate site for anything non-athletic, with their own vetting process,” Szumzki said.

Joan Garcia, Assistant Director of Athletics for Development, shed more light on the Athletic’s specific portion of Changefunding.

“We learned from other Universities that were implementing specific crowdfunding projects for their athletics programs and how successful they were in engaging their constituents,” Fink said. “We felt it would be a positive and exciting tool for our student athletes and coaches to get creative and use the new technologies to fund raise for their goals. Furthermore, we believe it will help to increase the University’s participation rate, a key component in Universities’ rankings which raises the value of a USD’s degree and helps USD Athletics in the recruitment process of top athletes.”

The vetting process for Athletics projects will match that of other projects submitted.

Though Changefunding applications are open to all university affiliates, the program does not include individual Greek organizations looking to fundraise. Senior Director of Giving, Philip Garland, explained that Changefunding aims to redirect fundraising back onto campus to benefit the school, not outside organizations.

“Changefunding does not include fraternities and sororities individually but could be for something that benefits all of Greek life,” Garland said. “It is also not for a fraternity or sorority raising money for another outlet or for a non-USD organization.”

This stipulation is understandable, but it also eliminates a large group of organizations comprised of students known for their fundraising network on campus.

Some student leaders who read the stipulations of the Changefunding were concerned about the fundraising goal parameters and time frame required for a campaign.

Junior Emma Moran, a co-president of PRIDE, noted that her organization and many others already receive funding from Associated Students.

“Associated Students funds most of our events, including our largest event, the drag show.” Moran said.

Each year, Associated Students offers $20,000 to undergraduate students  seeking academic grants  for  research projects. The process to apply is similar to that of the Changefunding initiatives. While  Associated Students has a large budget to fund these projects, the  grants are available for application every semester, not on a rolling basis.

Honors students are also eligible to apply for the Lawrence Hinman Honors Research Grant, which can fund up to  $500 for junior or senior students completing their thesis research.

While there are many opportunities to fundraise on campus, Annual Giving has added another in order to ensure that students have many options when looking for funding for their projects.


Written by Kelly Kennedy, Feature Editor

Graphic courtesy of Annual Giving/Changefunding

Graphic courtesy of Annual Giving/Changefunding