This fall, the University of North Georgia (UNG) has launched two initiatives aimed at increasing the amount of online giving to the university and raising a total of $15,000.
Wendi Huguley ('90), director of alumni relations and annual giving at UNG, said the two new initiatives – CrowdfundUNG and Giving Tuesday – have been launched with younger donors in mind, but all donors are encouraged to give.
"We want people to give in a way that's comfortable for them, but we're also trying to expand how we reach alumni and potential donors," Huguley said. "For younger donors, that increasingly means using digital, mobile-friendly platforms like websites and social media."
According to a 2013 study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, online gifts to nonprofits in the United States grew 14 percent nationwide in 2012, but still made up only 2 percent of all private donations to nonprofits. Those stats don't hold true for young adults; in a separate survey of 6,500 people ages 20 to 35 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 70 percent said they had donated online in 2011.
At the beginning of November, UNG launched its first crowdfunding site, a concept that seeks to raise money for a specific project or venture with small- to medium-sized donations from a large group of people, usually online. The first CrowdfundUNG fund, the Steve Nobel Undergraduate Fund, is named for Dr. Steve Nobel, professor of psychology at UNG. The goal is to raise $10,000 by Jan. 4, 2016, to support student research at UNG; so far, $1,045 has been donated by 11 supporters.
The Nobel Fund assists students like Allison McMahan, a senior majoring in psychological sciences, by alleviating some of the expenses involved with conducting research. Since her sophomore year, McMahan has been studying the longterm effects of ADHD prescriptions on a developing brain.
"I have always wanted to know how the brain functions, why people do what they do. And in neuroscience, my questions were given specific scientific answers," McMahan said. "This research we are doing is relevant, and that's beyond exciting. Our work is going to affect change and I am a part of that. It's surreal."
Also this fall, UNG is participating in the global Giving Tuesday movement, which encourages donations and volunteering on Tuesday, Dec. 1. On that date and through the remainder of the year, UNG is encouraging online donations to the UNG Fund with a goal of raising $5,000.
"Every aspect of UNG is touched directly or indirectly by the UNG Fund – every department, every unit, and every student on all five UNG campuses," said Kimberly Miller, coordinator for annual giving at UNG. "Donations to the UNG Fund are unrestricted funds, which means that we can direct those dollars to where the need is greatest, whether that means lab equipment, faculty development, or specific programs or initiatives."
Even small donations of $10-$25, when added together in the UNG Fund, become significant amounts that can make a difference for a department or group of students, Miller said.
Alumni and previous donors to the university will receive an email reminder the morning of Dec. 1, and those who donate are encouraged to share their Giving Tuesday support through social media messages using #UNGgives and #GivingTuesday.