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UM Named Top 20 in Higher Ed Crowdfunding

Remnants of the goal post remain at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium following the Oct. 4 Ole Miss football win over No. 1 Alabama
Remnants of the goal post remain at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium following the Oct. 4 Ole Miss football win over No. 1 Alabama

The University of Mississippi has been nationally recognized among the top 20 crowdfunding programs in higher education by Evertrue, a social donor management platform.

Crowdfunding encourages potential donors to give by offering a user-friendly format. Online donation platforms reach a wide audience through social channels and allow donors to specify which projects they want to support. UM’s crowdfunding platform, Ignite Ole Miss, has attracted more than $290,000 to date for various initiatives from scholarships to service projects.

Suzanne Thigpen, director of annual giving at the UM Foundation, sees an opportunity to attract new donors and show the tangible impact of their gifts.

“Donors can share and promote their favorite projects with their social networks, see real-time results as their causes are funded and interact with the beneficiaries of their gifts,” Thigpen said.

In partnership with the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, Ignite Ole Miss was launched in fall 2014 to raise money to replace damaged infrastructure following the Oct. 4 Ole Miss football win over No. 1 Alabama. More than $150,000 from 916 donors was contributed in 48 hours.

“We could not have predicted how successful our first campaign would be,” Thigpen said.

Michael Thompson, senior associate athletics director for communications and marketing, believes that crowdfunding meets the needs of donors, especially younger ones, and is excited about its prospective growth.

“As consumers’ perceptions and feelings evolve, we must be in a position to give Ole Miss fans opportunities to stay involved in a meaningful way,” Thompson said.

Since its launch, Ignite Ole Miss has supported various projects and offered giving levels that range from $5 to $5,000. The “Rebels for Haiti” fundraiser enabled football players to travel to Haiti over spring break to help construct clean water facilities. Some campaigns even offer unique rewards for giving, including an opportunity to fire the cannon at a football game in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Plans are underway to launch four new projects this spring. The UM Museum will initiate a campaign for refurbishments at Rowan Oak, home of Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner. The Division of Student Affairs is seeking support for a partnership with the National Pan-Hellenic Council to construct a garden honoring the nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities. Additional fundraisers will assist the J.D Williams Library to update its technology and workspace and fund scholarships. UM Foundation officials hope these efforts will resonate widely among supporters.

“Ignite Ole Miss allows our alumni and donors to leverage their circles of influence via social media and helps share more about our institution to a larger audience,” Thigpen said.

Thompson appreciates the opportunity that crowdfunding offers for insight and communication. “We want to listen to our fans and customers and provide innovative ways for them to stay connected to this great university.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to UM initiatives via Ignite Ole Miss or by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contacting Suzanne Thigpen at sthigpen@olemiss.edu or 662-915-6625.

Courtesy of Augusta Williams, Ole Miss News Desk

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
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