WMUC Sports struggled to find funds to travel to away games, so they started a Launch UMD campaign at the end of this past semester to raise money.

Notable alumni such as Scott Van Pelt and Bonnie Bernstein were critical in helping the group boost awareness, said Brad Kronthal, WMUC Sports station director.

“Alumni in the business were able to retweet us and send out tweets to support our campaign, getting the word out to all their thousands of followers to get us trending and make us a big deal,” Kronthal said.

Initiatives that increase publicity and alumni contributions are part of Launch UMD’s goals in its second year of operation, Nora Pittmann, Launch UMD’s program administrator and manager, said. This university’s crowdfunding platform has raised nearly $400,000 to support more than 40 initiatives on the campus so far, Pittmann said.

Although the monetary gains show a fundraising resource is needed on the campus, Pittmann, who is also the new donor strategies manager in the annual giving department, said she would like the program to become the primary place for campus groups seeking funding.

“I would really like for Launch UMD to become a really well-known resource on-campus,” Pittmann said. “I’d like for groups of all kinds to immediately think of Launch UMD when they identify they have a financial need within their group.”

Pittmann said part of her effort to increase publicity is through personal outreach to alumni and university student groups.

“A lot of people just don’t think about being able to raise money in this capacity,” Pittmann said. “Part of that is helping project teams think about how to communicate with alumni, think about people who participated in that club or group while they were on-campus and devising strategies for reaching out to them.”

One way to help outreach could be to address potential donor concerns about the security of online financial transactions, said Brian Frey, the financial liaison for Team MORALS, a research group in the Gemstone program and head of its Launch UMD campaign to raise funds for research on political polarization.

“Some potential donors are wary of using an online platform to donate large sums of money,” Frey said. “Some of this, surely, is generational and due to different generations’ level of comfort with the Internet.”

To address these concerns, Frey said the program should make the security and privacy of the online platform a more prominent part of the website.

With more outreach, Pittmann said she hopes students become more aware and use the resources available to them.

“We’ve really put a lot of time, resources and money into making sure that we’re on the cutting edge of how to use crowdfunding for higher education,” said Pittmann. “The proof is there that this is a resource that’s needed, so we want people to know that it’s really there for them.”