A need to finance laboratory equipment at Case School of Engineering has inspired the launch of CaseStarter, a fundraising platform designed to support specific projects at the Case School of Engineering and the math and applied sciences of Case Western Reserve University.

The CaseStarter project is made possible through the emergence of crowdfunding, made popular by successful platforms such as Kickstarter, which harnesses the collective support of individuals who network to pool their money to finance projects or campaigns initiated by organizations.

Big River introduced the concept of online crowdfunding to Stephen J. Zinram, Executive Director of the Case Alumni Association, as an innovative way to recruit donor support from alumni that is both participatory and highly visible.

“We are trying to reach Alumni who have not yet donated and inspire them to give for the first time,” states Mr. Zinram. “This type of project introduces alternative ways to help sustain and impact the school and university.”

Case Alumni Association’s CaseStarter website introduces one project at a time complete with an introductory video, details of the complete project, funding objectives and giving-related rewards. By collectively pooling the targeted donations of individuals to a dedicated goal, CaseStarter allows individuals to have a direct impact on the outcome of these projects.

“Unrestricted giving, or donations in which the donor does not dictate how the nonprofit should spend the money, are a harder sell these days,” Mr. Zinram continues. “Restricted giving projects, such as CaseStarer, allow donors to get behind a project they actually believe in and see the results of their gift immediately.”

Currently, the CaseStarter project is raising funds to purchase two Mobile 3D Printer Workstations which will equip engineering students with rapid-prototyping capabilities. To reciprocate donations, students will produce a commemorative piece created on the 3D printer for each donor. The larger the gift, the more intricate and personalized the reward.

“Big River has given us a lot of advice and direction on how to best present this method of fundraising,” concludes Mr. Zinram. “Its certainly an approach more suitable for today’s consumer-oriented and tech-savvy donors.”


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