February 13, 2018

VSU Creates Crowdfunding Platform For Faculty and Student Projects

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University is helping Blazer Nation fund its passion projects through Blazer Funded. This new crowdfunding platform is designed to support the university’s commitment to provide students with expanded transformational and experiential learning opportunities and to be a catalyst for regional comprehensive progress.

“We envision this initiative as an opportunity for faculty to raise funds for research endeavors, especially those involving undergraduate and graduate students at VSU,” said Dr. James LaPlant, assistant vice president for research at VSU and dean of the Graduate School. “Crowdfunding can also provide support for student academic organizations that are competing at the state, regional, national, or even international levels. When traditional grants are not available as a funding source, crowdfunding can provide several thousand dollars to support research projects and academic organizations at VSU.”

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by obtaining donations from a large number of people, usually via an online platform such as Blazer Funded.

Blazer Funded is an initiative housed in VSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration (OSPRA). Its staff will work closely with each project team to provide strategic crowdfunding management and consulting before, during, and after the fundraising campaign.

“Blazer Funded is still in the rollout phase, and we want members of the VSU community to come to us with their projects,” said Kerry Morris, senior grants specialist for OSPRA and director of Blazer Funded. “For the initial launch, preference will be given to faculty-driven research and projects that have student involvement and a strong student impact.”

Projects that further the mission of VSU with a tangible benefit to students, faculty, or the Valdosta State community as a whole will be considered. Projects will be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis.

“Ideal crowdfunding projects should have an achievable goal — generally between $2,000 and $10,000 — a compelling case, a tangible student benefit, and a large audience to appeal for support,” Morris said. “It is also important for Blazer Funded projects to have a solid group of participants willing to invest time and effort into planning, launching, and fundraising for the project.” 

Projects that do not directly benefit VSU students, faculty, or programs will not be considered. Projects with goals to fund individuals, office supplies, catering costs, T-shirts, or similar items will also not be considered. Blazer Funded cannot be used to fund independent business or charity ventures.

Applicants are expected to dedicate 10 to 12 weeks to each project and, therefore, should apply well in advance of when the funds are needed.

Unlike most crowdfunding platforms, Blazer Funded donations are tax-deductible because they are transferred through the VSU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. There is also no fee for donating to Blazer Funded; 100 percent of the proceeds go to the projects. 

Contact Kerry Morris at (229) 245-3828 or kwmorris@valdosta.edu to learn more.

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