Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt Launches Funding Website Engagepitt Aims to Reach Young Givers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitt Launches Funding Website Engagepitt Aims to Reach Young Givers

Article excerpt

The University of Pittsburgh's Office of Institutional Advancement decided to introduce a crowdfunding platform to Pitt's fundraising system because millennials don't donate in the same way older generations do, said Al Novak, vice chancellor of the office.

"My generation and those before me are very to open taking phone calls from alma maters. They're still willing to open mail and will look at the brochures," said Mr. Novak, 55. "But the millennials grew up with a PDA [personal digital assistant] in their hand. We need to meet them where they are and where they're comfortable being engaged."

To bridge the gap between philanthropic millennials and outdated technology, the office launched EngagePitt at engage.pitt.edu in December. The platform allows the leaders of student groups or faculty members to fundraise for a specific initiative.

And it's working. The eight special projects being organized by Pitt student groups or faculty members have raised a total of more than $24,000 in less than three months. Two have concluded, and both surpassed their goals.

More than $6,000 of that money went to the Pitt Rowing Club, which surpassed its $5,000 goal to buy new equipment to accommodate the expanding team.

Donors include more than just the family and friends of the student groups' members. Mr. Novak offered the Society of Women Engineers as an example of a group that has seen donations from strangers. The group, which concluded its campaign to fund spring outreach events, had a goal of $2,000 but raised $2,351. The organization has "alumni that goes back decades," and Mr. Novak said the campaigns grow organically through social media to reach people the students have never met.

Danielle Atkins, annual programs associate for the office that coordinates the campaigns, said many of the donors using the tool have never given to Pitt before, showing that EngagePitt is reaching donors who didn't contribute by phone or mail.

Six campaigns are currently open for donations. One such campaign is for the Pitt Global Public Health Brigade, which wants to raise $5,000 to send its members on a mission trip to Honduras, where they will help a local community improve its unsound infrastructure, such as dirt floors and a lack of clean water storage, that leads to widespread respiratory and bacterial infections. …

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