Crowdfunding Competition Draws Large Number of Student Groups

Ignite Logo (Courtesy of the UConn Foundation)
From gospel choir to rugby, the competition is on to raise money for student activities. (Ignite logo courtesy of the UConn Foundation)

Starting Monday, 33 student groups are competing in a nationally recognized campus-wide crowdfunding competition, the largest number to date at UConn.

Student groups use the Ignite fundraiser to help pay for their activities, trips, or equipment. Last year, for instance, the UConn Marching Band raised money for a tower planned for the practice field, while the Pre-Vet club used the funds to travel to Latin America to provide volunteer veterinarian care.

Now in its fourth year, the crowdfunding competition keeps growing, with 33 clubs that span the breadth of the University, from improv groups to the boxing team. Last year, 20 groups competed, raising a total of $34,129 from 1,644 donors.

In addition to seeking donations, the groups also compete for $20,000 in prize money. They can earn it by getting the highest number of student and young alumni donors or by competing in weekly challenges, such as posting every Monday on social media, or making a compelling video.

Several members of the UConn Foundation’s board of directors donated the prize money. “It has long been a key interest of mine to develop an enthusiasm for giving to the University,” says board member and donor Adam L. Schwartz ’97 JD. “Ignite is one of the terrific ways of building this into students so that, in the future, they will become engaged members of civic society and, by extension, of the University.”

Last year, the Asian American Cultural Center’s Pan-Asian Council won the contest and earned an additional $6,442 in prize money.

“The way we do Ignite is really a lot of fun for everyone,” says Nitheesha Nakka, a coordinator in the Pan Asian Council. “We have rewards for our community for every benchmark number of donors we achieve. For example, we baked hundreds of cookies after passing a goal, and made our assistant director do a rap battle that we captured on film.”

The group used the funds to pay for the homecoming competition, a talent night, and a leadership conference, says Angela Rola, director of the Asian American Cultural Center.

“They attracted a lot of young alums to donate,” Rola said. “They understand the idea of philanthropy, while raising money for significant events that many students have access to.”

The UConn Foundation is committed to increasing private support to meet the needs of the University. Programs like Ignite are designed to introduce philanthropy for UConn to students while they are still on campus and can directly experience the impact of their giving.

The crowdfunding competition will run through April 3, and the entire campus community is encouraged to get involved. Winners will be announced April 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theater.  For further information or to donate, go to the Ignite website.

Here’s who’s competing this year:

Alpha Kappa Lambda
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
American Sign Language Club
Asian American Cultural Center’s Pan-Asian Council
Beta Alpha Psi: Accounting Fraternity
Bridge Support Group
Dominican Student Association
First Year Programs & Learning Communities
Greek Community Affairs Board
Honors Across State Borders
Hearts Over Latin America
Honors Student Group
Horse Lincoln: Comedy Improv
Leadership in Diversity
Minority Association of Pre Medical Students
The Nathan Hale Club
Pharmacy Student Government
Pre-Vet Club
Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center
Student Alumni Association
U Content
UConn All-Stars
UConn Boxing Team
UConn Choral Club
UConn Formula SAE
UConn Gospel Choir Club
UConn Husky Sport
UConn Marching Band
UConn Men’s Crew
UConn Rugby
UConn Sailing Team
Veterans Student Organization