The University’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) launched its inaugural crowdfunding campaign on Aug. 26. The money raised through the crowdfunding effort will go directly to the PCSE’s operating budget to help close the funding gap for the fiscal year of 2016, which is about $50,000, as PCSE is currently only partially endowed.
According to Director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Makaela Kingsley, the crowdfunding money will be used for workshops, grants, personnel, or general office expenses.
“Our core mission is to support work that contributes to the common good—that includes all social impact work, regardless of impact area, sector, or geographic region,” Kingsley wrote in an email to The Argus.
PCSE’s decision to crowdfund was not only an attempt to raise necessary funds, but also to increase exposure for itself as a University resource.
“We wanted to broaden awareness about the work of the center and Wesleyan student change makers,” Kingsley wrote. “We also wanted to practice what we preach: We teach students the basics of crowdfunding, so it was high time we did some crowdfunding ourselves.”
Donations have been streaming in through the website Indiegogo, which will remain open until Sept. 26. According to Kingsley, this time frame was chosen through Indiegogo’s recommendations and in an effort to avoid conflict with the University’s financial aid fundraising.
However, according to co-president of Kai Entrepreneurship and student coordinator of Digital Wesleyan Alex Garcia ’18, PCSE’s crowdfunding campaign is only one part of a much larger effort to increase available resources to students interested in entrepreneurship.
“We’ve also done other forms of fundraising, for instance Kai [Entrepreneurship] has taken a corporate sponsor approach and over the summer we secured Dentons, Digital Wesleyan (alumni run tech and new media companies) and Squarespace as major sponsors for our programs,” Garcia wrote in an email to The Argus.
Currently PCSE’s funds are only used by about 10 percent of the University student body.
“It’s an incredible resource for any student trying to bring a project or idea to life,” Garcia wrote. “As we continue to increase the amount of resources we have, I hope that more students will take advantage of the programs, grants and advice the center has to offer.”
PCSE has supported a number of University student projects in the past, something which alumnae Rachel Verner ’15 and Hyungsoo Kim ’02 have not forgotten. The money raised through crowdfunding will be going to students following in the footsteps of Verner and Kim.
During her time at the University, Verner received a $5,000 grant from PCSE to start her own business.
“I think crowd funding campaigns are a fantastic way to increase community involvement,” Verner wrote in an email to The Argus. “This crowd funding campaign will help to ensure that future students are offered similar financial support for their endeavors.”
Verner also said that any donations, whether large or small, are integral to crowdfunding.
“As a college student or recent grad, it can often feel like it’s hard to make a significant contribution,” Verner wrote. “No one is being asked to donate thousands of dollars, but everyone is encouraged to donate a little to help their community thrive. If we do choose to donate, we become more invested in the cause and more motivated to help it succeed.”
Kim echoed Verner’s sentiments about PCSE’s campaign. She said she believes that the crowdfunding campaign will do more than just provide funds to students for entrepreneurship.
“I am especially excited that PCSE will learn so much about the crowdfunding campaign,” Kim wrote in an email to The Argus. “Once they are through with the first campaign they will be tremendously helpful to Wesleyan students who are planning to run crowdfunding campaigns in the future. The know-hows PCSE can obtain from running its own campaign will be [an] invaluable asset they can pass down to Wesleyan students.”
Despite the confidence from University alumni, Kingsley admits that crowdfunding can be a difficult process.
“Crowdfunding is not easy, but I am pleased with progress to date and will work hard to reach our goal,” Kingsley wrote. “I hope readers consider checking out the campaign and making a small or large donation. Every gift not only helps us financially, but also makes a strong statement about the importance of the center to Wesleyan.”