GiveCampus (YC S15) Aims To Make Higher Education Fundraising More Social

Institutions of higher education devote a major segment of their resources to raising funds, but the manner in which they do so hasn’t significantly changed in the face of the new sharing economy.

YC-backed GiveCampus is hoping to take a cue from other crowdfunding platforms and shape how universities and colleges raise money from donors in a more interactive capacity.

“The bottom line is that what colleges and universities do now doesn’t work. About 90 percent of college graduates give to charity. Only 8.2 percent made a gift last year to their college,” GiveCampus co-founder Kestrel Linder said in an interview. “So there’s an enormous divide between people with the inclination and the capacity to give and people who give to higher education.”

GiveCampus’s model blends Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform with a social network aspect that allows users to directly appeal to fellow alums for join them in donating to their institutions. Campaigns on the site range from projects raising funds for class gifts to projects looking to create new scholarships.


Linder said that he and his cofounder, Michael Kong, embarked on a three-month “listening tour” to meet with fundraisers at major academic institutions to discover their needs and rethink how GiveCampus could meet them.

“We learned a lot about how [universities’] unique requirements in terms of how data is collected, processed and handled and fed to them. As well as how money is handled and processed since we’re talking about charitable giving,” Linder said.

Donations to colleges and universities surpassed nearly $37 billion in 2014, with a large portion of that sum undoubtedly gave from large-scale donors. GiveCampus enables higher education institutions to more effectively reach out to small-scale donors early, and set campaign goals that prioritize the number of supporters as well as the amount of funds.

GiveCampus has seen major success right out of the gate. A campaign launched on the site by Davidson College raised over $700 thousand dollars, with donations coming in from over 2,800 unique donors.

Linder believes that GiveCampus’s worth resides in its focus and its ability to reach out and facilitate donations from users that haven’t been interacted with effectively. “Our value proposition is that we are a really low-cost way to capture what we think is billions of dollars that’s being left out there from literally millions of people that just haven’t been engaged the right way.”