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Sold! Crowdfunding helps Center for Real Estate hit funding goal

By Chris Jenkins

Hoping to ensure that undergraduate students can continue to gain real-world experience by attending national conferences, the Center for Real Estate in Marquette’s College of Business Administration set an ambitious goal: Raise $6,300 in less than a month.

They ended up raising nearly $8,900 more than enough to send a group of 10 students to a conference in Las Vegas this May. The method they used to connect with donors was a first for Marquette.

The center partnered with, a website that specializes in crowdfunding using the Internet and social media to solicit funding for a specific project, typically through relatively small individual donations.

Crowdfunding has become a popular way to fund technology and media projects in recent years the Jamaican bobsled team raised more than $115,000 to help pay for its trip to the Winter Olympics but it represents a relatively new frontier for higher education.

And given the center’s initial success, it won’t be the last such project at Marquette.

“I would love to see more groups attempt this, as long as they follow the same strategy,” says Andy Hunt, the center’s assistant director. “It’s got to be specific. You definitely want to target alumni who have an affinity toward what you’re asking for, and that they can see there’s value there immediately.”

Marquette senior advancement officer Michael Kelly called the project a “pilot of a pilot,” and is optimistic that crowdfunding can play a key role in future fundraising efforts as long as they establish a clear goal and timeline to fill a specific need.

Marquette Social Media Director Tim Cigelske, who is teaching a new 22-student Social Media Measurement and Analytics class in the Diederich College of Communication, said the class will examine crowdfunding campaigns as a way to give students real-world experience in social media analytics. Cigelske is using crowdfunding himself to make his textbook available for other classes.

“It’s hands-on learning with the most cutting edge tools,” Cigelske said.

While crowdfunding might have been an innovative way to drum up interest, it’s still the message that matters.

“It all has to do with the value that you showed in the first place,” Hunt says. “If it changed you as a student, if it impacted you in any way, then more than likely and maybe at Marquette more than other places you feel a responsibility to give back and to help others have that same type of experience.”


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