Ask and you shall receive help for college using GoFundMe.
The GoFundMe approach to financing education is particularly trendy in New York City, a new report from the companyshowed. Along with the report, thecrowdfunding site also made a generous contribution to the cause with a how-to guide for running a successful college-costs campaign, and launched a “hub” to connect donors with scholars.
New York City ranked third-highest for the amount of campaigns and money raised for needy students in or heading to the city: 6,800 campaigns in the last three years raised $4.2 million.
One ongoingfund to benefit Salma Echahly, a Barnard College graduate who was forced to return to dangerous conditions in Morocco after her student visa expired, already raised $22,723. The money is for tuition to the NYU grad program she had already been accepted to. She could not obtain another student visa without it.
"Having a taste of freedom and then returning to an oppressive country is very hard. You may not be forbidden from going out but you are afraid, always afraid to be harassed or sexually assaulted," Echahly told Metro.
Sue Groner, a family friend in the U.S. who helped set up the page for Echahly, said that it was imperative they get this outstanding woman her back to safety in New York and back to her studies. And they made it happen.
“She started at NYU three weeks ago, so yeah, it’s amazing — it’s amazing people who come forward to help, who have no connection to her," Groner said. "What I love about it, and these kind of crowdfunding sites, is the opportunity to help one specific person and help change one person’s life.”
Groner and her mother, a professor who had Echahly in her class, are still pushing the cause on Facebook.
"It changed my life is so many ways," Echahly said. "In that hostile environment, I wouldn't have been able to achieve my potential."
There have been about 130,000 GoFundMe campaigns for college costs in the past three years, according to the company. The campaigns raised over $60 million from over 850,000 donations.
The GoFundMe company keeps 8 percent of all donations.
“When you spend some time on GoFundMe and read these stories, and see why they created the campaign, and how hard they’ve worked, there are just folks who want to help,” said GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne.
GoFundMe’s special gift to striving students is their guide for getting the campaign to go the farthest. It recommends emphasizing accomplishments and hard work in the description section, detailed explanations of the academic direction, plans and motivation, the target colleges and programs and other potential costs. They suggest making posting frequent updates and photos to the page.
And certainly, frequent expressions of gratitude for contributions are highly encouraged.
The GoFundMe Guide to Paying for College
1. Set up a GoFundMe campaign page and share your best strengths
Describe your accomplishments and hard work: Awards, honors, extracurricular activiites
What you plan to do in college, such as your major, study abroad trips, clubs and causes
The reasons you need the money, and why help is crucial for your goal
Any additional details about your story, what you've had to overcome, and how hard you've worked
2. Add expenses as Wish List Items
How much is tuition?
What kind of supplies will you need? Laptop? Bed?
Do you need a plane ticket or have other travel costs?
3. Spread the word to friends and family
Share the campaign link with everyone you know through Facebook, email, texts.
Reach out to former teachers, coaches and mentors
Consider having a celebration or get together where you can present your campaign and personalize the approach.
4. Post frequent updates and photos
Posting updates allows you to share progress, keep people interested in your journey, and spur more donating and sharing.
Share pictures of how you are preparing getting to college, or from a tour of your dream school.
5. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
Make your gratitude for the support well known on the page and frequently updated.
Send individual thank you notes to donors to make them feel appreciated and that their money was well-deserved.
Encourage donors to keep sharing your link.