It's easy to spot us. When “Enter Sandman” comes on, we jump up. When there's a chance to help others, we jump in. We are Hokies.

Virginia Tech was founded almost 150 years ago to bring knowledge into communities and improve lives. Plenty has changed since 1872, but not our driving purpose. We teach, we learn, and we reach out so that we may serve. We jump at the chance to make a difference.

Welcome to Virginia Tech's official crowdfunding platform. We're here to bring together students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends to maximize our joint impact for good. Are you here to find an exciting project to support? To submit your Virginia Tech cause to be considered for promotion this fall? You're in the right place to make it happen and make a difference.

See below for the Jump Crowdfunding Toolkit to help guide you through the crowdfunding process. If you wish to apply to use the platform, please refer to the application links in the sidebar.

“This is a great tool for student organizations trying to find outlets to alumni, university officials and other people who they do not usually come across. I think any student group would be interested in utilizing this tool to raise any funds their organization needs.”

Brian Kelleher, '17, VT Relay Productions project team lead

Project Principles: Download PDF

All project teams are asked to complete a thorough application process. Start by reviewing the resources found in the How It Works section. Then fill out the appropriate application for your project, found in the sidebar of this page. After your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by the crowdfunding committee. You will be notified of acceptance or rejection within two weeks of the application closing date. From there, your team will need to attend an orientation session (mandatory for the project leader, and highly encouraged for other project team members). 

Note: In order to complete the crowdfunding application, you will need to identify at least five members of your crowdfunding project team.

Before you can begin a crowdfunding project using Jump, the project leader will need to acknowledge that the full team is aware of the expectations of launching a crowdfunding project. This starts with a campaign kick-off meeting with your team, following the orientation session, where you will set a project goal, scope out a video plan, and get a basic understanding of next steps. Then, you should give your team access to the platform by adding them as project collaborators — project leads will be given access to the platform after they have completed the project orientation, as conducted by the Jump crowdfunding team.

  • Read, share, and understand the expectations of a successful project (see Project Principles above)
  • Log into your project on the Jump website
  • Fill in basic project information — title, short description, fund number, goal, and ambassador list; this information should come from the application you filled out to apply with minimal editing

In addition to the basic project information, you will also need to create additional content:

Webpage checklist

  • Add team member photos and bios
  • Add a thank you message from the Project Lead
  • Add a full description of your project, include visuals to break up the text
  • Identify at least 5 giving levels with short descriptions
  • Upload campaign images and video — must be hosted on YouTube or Vimeo first
  • Complete a final copy edit

Video best practices

  • Keep them short — 30-60 seconds
  • Put the Who, What, and Why in the first 15-30 seconds
  • Ask people to first give, and then to share with their networks
  • Do not make them overproduced — successful videos can be shot on a smartphone camera with minimal editing
    • Overproduced videos could harm your project ("If the video looks so good, why do they need money?")

The key to crowdfunding success is a solid communication plan, which includes email and social media. Your project team should have a communication plan and timeline at least two weeks before you intend to launch.

Pre-launch checklist

  • Submit a communication plan outlining what will be sent during each week of the campaign; use this template for guidance
  • Recruit ambassadors to help carry out the communication plan and make sure all have accepted their invitations to the platform and have their unique links
  • Submit a stewardship plan outlining how you will stay in touch with donors throughout the life of the project and 3-6 months after project completion, utilizing the platform updates feature and other communication platforms
  • Identify one person on your team to send timely thank-you updates throughout the campaign
  • Send pre-launch emails announcing the campaign launch date — See Tools for Project leaders section below for email templates
  • If you have early donors, you can request that the platform be opened up for a limited time for them; this allows for starting off the launch with donations already moving the needle

View the Detailed Timeline Template

Crowdfunding campaigns require a minimum of 4-6 weeks to plan and execute a successful campaign launch. Project teams that take the time to craft thoughtful messaging, create a compelling campaign video, and assign communication roles set themselves up to meet and surpass their crowdfunding goal.

Sample timeline

4 weeks prior to launch

  • Complete training sessions
  • Work on video and webpage content
  • Assign campaign roles
  • Recruit additional ambassadors

3 weeks prior to launch

  • Work on your communication plan
  • Check in with ambassadors
  • Create email contact lists — contact your unit’s Alumni professional for assistance with alumni email lists

2 weeks prior to launch

  • Input web page content for final copy edit
  • Submit your communication plan
  • Plan messaging for mid-campaign updates

1 week prior to launch

  • Send pre-launch emails
  • Prepare messaging for launch day emails
  • Finalize accounting information
  • Confirm campaign roles and responsibilities
  • Arrange for platform to open for early donors, if applicable

If you're part of a regular crowdfunding cycle (Spring, March-April; Fall, October-November), you may receive promotional assistance from Advancement.

Once the majority of active projects have reached 30% of their goals, projects will be shared across university social media channels to help expand your reach and publicity.

Video and content support may be available in your unit — check with your unit’s communications professional for details. Other unit Advancement professionals may be able to help you brainstorm marketing channels and target audiences for your outreach. Please note that it is up to your Advancement team's descretion on the level of assistance they may provide.

Successful crowdfunding campaigns have proven that email outreach is most effective at converting donations to your cause. To support your personal email outreach, please refer to email templates in the Tools for Project Leaders section below to help you with this important outreach.

Note: You will not be able to personally send emails using an Alumni contact list or past donor list pulled from Virginia Tech's database; please consult your unit's Advancement team to determine if your project is eligible for Alumni emails.

Have questions? Don’t hesitate to ask: crowdfunding@vt.edu

Crowdfunding project teams require a minimum of five people acting in leadership and ambassador roles. The larger the project goal, the larger the project team should be. All members of the project team are required to participate in crowdfunding orientation and training sessions prior to launch. There are three key roles that make up each project team:

  1. Project lead (1-2 people)
  2. Project sponsor (advisor/department head)
  3. Project ambassadors (your “cheerleaders” who can help you spread the word to their networks)

The project lead is the point of contact between your unit's Advancement team and your project collaborators. This person is responsible for overseeing project progress and ensuring all the pieces are in place to launch a successful crowdfunding project.

The tasks associated with your crowdfunding project, such as writing campaign updates, creating a campaign video, or sending donor thank you notes, can be delegated to other team members, but it is the sole responsibility of the fundraising lead to make sure these tasks are completed.

The project sponsor is a Virginia Tech faculty or staff member who can act as a liaison between the project team and the Chief Advancement Officer in the college or unit relevant to each project. This person is responsible for providing fund information, overseeing the overall fundraising strategy, and long-term stewardship strategy. For student groups, the project sponsor is typically an official advisor.

The project ambassadors are volunteers who are committed to fundraising on behalf of the project. Each project ambassador is should identify at least 20 personal contacts who might be interested in contributing to the campaign. Each ambassador is required to send personal emails to their contact list during the month-long campaign, as well as utilizing their social media networks. The emails and posts should include:

  1. Pre-launch announcement: Save-the-Date
  2. Launch announcement: Project appeal
  3. Early momentum: 30%
  4. Mid-campaign update and request for support
  5. Final campaign update and request for support
  6. Donor thank yous

Ambassadors might also be called upon to support the project leader with other aspects of the campaign, such as writing campaign updates, appearing in a campaign video, or sending individual donor thank you notes.

The key to crowdfunding success is a solid communication plan. After your campaign application is approved, your team will work through a communications plan template and submit a final plan to your unit's communications specialist. This shared plan will help us partner on communication efforts and ensure that the word is getting out about your campaign. Your communication plan will include the following considerations:

  • Project title, short description, and goal
  • 2-4 minute campaign video
  • Full description of your project, including visuals
  • At least five giving levels with a short description for each
  • Project team member photos and bios
  • Project lead thank you message
  • Communication timeline
  • Campaign emails
  • Donor thank-yous
  • Campaign updates

Team training includes one 1-hour orientation session (mandatory for project leads and student group advisors). This training covers content strategy and demonstrates how to use the administrator tools on available on the crowdfunding site to build your campaign page. The sessions will be held in-person and via WebEx for Fall 2017 projects. It will then be recorded and available online so team members can access the information on-demand.

Being the fundraising lead is an important and rewarding role. As the project team fundraising leader, you are the point of contact between the Crowdfunding Team and your project team. In this role, you are responsible for overseeing project progress and submitting project requirements. The tasks associated with your crowdfunding project, such as writing campaign updates, creating a campaign video, or sending donor thank you notes, can be delegated to other team members but it is the sole responsibility of the fundraising lead to make sure these tasks are completed. We recommend meeting with your project team at least once per week throughout the process. You will be the point of contact for the Crowdfunding Team for regular updates to check on progress and remind you of important due dates.

Here are some helpful tools to keep your project team on task and ensure success.

Content Strategy

Communications Planning

Working with students in Public Relations Campaigns (COMM 4304)

If your project is selected for crowdfunding, you may be asked if you'd like to receive promotion and marketing assistance from COMM 4304 students. These students will be creating, executing, and measuring marketing promotion plans to help spread the word about your crowdfunding project. If you choose to partner with these students, you will be expected to integrate them into your project team. Learn more about the expectations and responsibilities for working with COMM 4304 students.

Best practices

Crowdfunding is having individuals contribute money through a digital platform to causes or projects they care about. It involves a peer-to-peer giving experience, including the sharing of information about giving.

The goal of Jump crowdfunding is to create philanthropic relationships between Virginia Tech and individual donors. This is to ensure that people who give to a project through the Virginia Tech Foundation receive tax receipts for their charitable donations.

General fundraising involves activities to raise money. These include crowdfunding, bake sales, percentage nights, loose-change jars, etc.

When planning crowdfunding promotion, any fundraising activity that is outside the scope of crowdfunding must be treated as separate activities apart from crowdfunding. If other general fundraising activities are planned as part of reaching an overall fundraising goal, the crowdfunding-specific goal should be lowered to accommodate those other activities. Any funds raised through non-crowdfunding activities cannot count toward the crowdfunding dollar goal.

Scenario: A student group wants to raise $10,000 for travel scholarships to an annual conference. They request use of Jump for crowdfunding, and they set their crowdfunding goal of $5,000 within the digital crowdfunding platform.

They build their page on Jump and create a communications plan, which includes emailing alumni to ask for donations as well as a social media campaign on their group’s accounts. Students in the group share the information to their friends and family, and they direct people to give through Jump.

They then plan on holding bake sales in high-traffic areas of campus to raise $500, and they seek out local business sponsorship for the last $4,500. These additional activities are conducted as separate from crowdfunding, but their efforts go toward the overall $10,000 goal for the scholarships. 

If a major donor is contacted and wishes to participate in a matching gift donation, you must contact Brittany Sain (britts10@vt.edu) for assistance to ensure that the match is handled appropriately.

Because of rules related to the Virginia Tech Foundation non-profit status, personal and payment information must be managed properly. To this end, donations must be made through the Jump platform’s payment page the donors themselves and using either their own device or a university-owned, PCI-compliant device.

You may not set up a shared computer or tablet at an event for people to input their own contact and credit card information to make a donation. Instead, you should have them use their own devices on-site by directing them to your project page. This will ensure their information will be securely managed.

Tactic: At events, have signage and/or handouts (printed cards or flyers) that advertises your project’s URL. This way, donors can navigate to the project page at their leisure, and they can be ensured their information is secure.

University Development is currently working on a solution where PCI-compliant swipers and devices may be available for check-out at events. Information on this will be updated as it becomes available.

Currently, all Jump donations must be made using a credit card through the Jump giving page.

Venmo is not currently available to receive non-profit donations, but the company has plans to roll out this capability in the future.

University Development is working on a way to incorporate PayPay, ApplePay, and GooglePay into its payment platforms, but those are not currently available for Jump donations.

During and after a project’s active period, you will be able to request basic optional demographic data about donors, including how they heard about the project. Please email Susan Gill (susan83@vt.edu) or Brittany Sain (britts10@vt.edu) for that information.

You may also choose to create a survey and share it using the Jump platform’s Project Updates section of your project — this will send an email to all your donors, and you can ask specific questions regarding your marketing efforts when assessing success.

If you have a budget to assist with your fundraising, the best use of this would be for advertising and media relations activities. Successful projects within Jump have used boosted social media posts, online and print ads, and local media for spreading the word about their efforts. It is not recommended to use budget funds to buy commodities for giveaways or incentives. See Perks vs. Levels below for more information.

When trying to crowdfund, one tactic to get donations is to utilize incentives. These are considered perks, and they are difficult to manage for non-professional fundraisers. We encourage project owners to avoid giveaways of tangible items because the value of the item must be deducted from the donation as per IRS rules.

Example: If someone gives $20 to a project with a perk of receiving a t-shirt valued at $7, the donor gets a tax receipt of $13. This cuts into the overall net gain of the crowdfunding effort and takes money away from the end dollar goal.

We encourage instead to use Levels, where donations can be broken down into meaningful amounts that the donor can feel good about using.

Example: For a $6 donation, you can bring the arts to one school child in the area. For a $120 donation, you can bring a busload of students to the Moss Arts Center for an arts experience.

  • Keep it short — 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, never longer than 2 minutes
  • Make it personal — there should be beneficiaries and/or project team members in the video, talking about why this is important.
  • Don’t overproduce — use a GoPro or even an iPhone, this should look grassroots, not like it took a lot of money to produce – it keeps the project authentic.

Here you are answering three questions:

  • Who are we?
    • Keep it personal – introduce the organization or department or group of people working on this particular project.
  • Why are we raising this money?
    • State need
    • Feeling of urgency
  • How can you help?
    • Give
    • Share

Use pictures to break up long chunks of text! You want this to be consumable.

Updates are a critical and underutilized form of stewardship and donor engagement. You must be committed to sending updates during AND after your campaign.

Updates should be something that enlightens, entertains, and engages the donor about your cause by:

  • Showcasing your campaign’s progress
  • Featuring selected member’s personal statements about what drew them to the issue you are trying to solve
  • Sharing interesting facts or stories about the cause you are undertaking or issue you are tackling
  • Providing special “VIP” or “behind-the-scenes” access to your process or training (i.e. featuring your laboratory, practice regime, research travels, etc.). Remember, the goal of all updates takes the donor along with you on your journey and entice them to share your mission with others who may find it compelling!

First Update (between 24 hours – 72 hours after launch)

  • Thank donors, re-state impact their money is making.
  • Take compelling statistics around the issue you’re raising money to tackle/solve or quotes from those who will benefit from the money raised.
  • Prime donor to share with someone they know that would be interested in the project by describing a certain aspect of the project (a certain issue within your larger mission, connection as an alum of the school, etc.)

Milestone Update(s)

  • Progress Milestone: note percentage of goal raised thus far (50%, 75%, etc.) and describe the impact that specific amount of money will have.
  • Countdown Milestone: include elements of money milestone update and note how much time you have left.
  • Use a short video, highlight someone that is either a face of the project discussing statistics about your issue or a testimonial from someone who will be impacted by the money or someone who has been impacted previously (i.e., previous scholarship recipients, those who have gone through the program you’re raising money to continue,

The project ambassadors are volunteers who are committed to fundraising on behalf of the project. Each project ambassador is should identify at least 20 personal contacts who might be interested in contributing to the campaign. Each ambassador is required to send at least six emails to their contact list during the month-long campaign, as well as utilizing their social media networks. The emails and posts include:

  1. Launch announcement: Project appeal
  2. Early campaign update and request for support
  3. Mid-campaign update and request for support
  4. Final campaign update and request for support
  5. Campaign summary and thank you

As an ambassador you might also be called upon to support the project lead with other aspects of the campaign, such as writing campaign updates, appearing in a campaign video, or sending individual donor thank you notes.

Here are some helpful tools to keep your project team on task and ensure success:

Email Templates

There are lots of ways to spread the word about your crowdfunding project. We know that personal email outreach is by far the best way to reach people and offer them a convenient way to give to your campaign. Use these email templates for your outreach, making them as personal as possible wherever you can.

Emails to your personal contacts:

Emails campaign donors:

Tracking your progress

Your project lead can set up an individual ambassador link for you. You can use this link in your communications so that you and your project lead can track how much money you have raised from your efforts.

Gifts made on Jump are treated as gifts to Virginia Tech, and they are tax-deductible. Gifts go through the Virginia Tech Foundation giving, gift processing, receipting, and recording protocols. Therefore, use of the platform is restricted to projects that meet certain eligibility criteria.

  • Gifts must go into a Virginia Tech Foundation fund. If you do not know what fund you are eligible to use, or if you need to set up a new fund, contact crowdfunding@vt.edu.
  • Projects must have a Virginia Tech employee as a sponsor (college/unit faculty or staff member).
  • Funds raised must be used under the supervision of the sponsor. Campaigns raising money that will be passed along to other non-profits are not eligible to use Jump.
  • Projects must have the approval of the ranking development officer your college or unit. Not sure who this is for your area? Contact us at crowdfunding@vt.edu.

Projects that do not meet all four of these criteria are not eligible to use Jump.

Note: 

  • Projects are subject to review by their unit or college Advancement team prior to acceptance or rejection.
  • Projects to support research activities are under the review of the Office of Sponsored Programs and may be subject to additional regulations.

Visit the Jump homepage to see current and past crowdfunding projects.

Note: Applications must be received by the deadline and must be submitted via the online survey application to be considered.

Application deadline for Spring 2018 projects: Dec. 15, 2017

  • Dec. 15, 2017: Applications close
  • Dec. 16, 2017 – Jan. 11, 2018: Application review
  • Jan. 12, 2018: Project application status released
  • Jan. 29 – Mar. 25, 2018: Quiet phase (planning)
  • Mar. 26 – May 11, 2018: Active phase (fundraising)

You may also submit an application at any time for Fall 2018 projects; if you are interested in a Summer 2018 project, that will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Questions? Email crowdfunding@vt.edu

Applications for Spring 2018 are closed.

Applications for Fall 2018 are open:

Timeline:

  • July 6, 2018: Applications close
  • July 9 – 27, 2018: Application review
  • July 30, 2018: Project application status released
  • Aug. 6 – Sept. 30, 2018: Quiet phase
  • Oct. 1 – Dec. 7, 2018: Active phase