Click Here to Donate: An Examination of Online Crowdfunding Campaigns by Division I Intercollegiate Athletic Departments

Liz Sattler – Illinois State University
Craig Morehead – Indiana State University
Nels Popp – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chad McEvoy Northern – Illinois University


Crowdfunding is an online mechanism allowing individuals, groups, and organizations to solicit and procure financial gifts from a large number of donors. An increasing number of college athletic departments are now utilizing crowdfunding as a tool to finance specific departmental needs such as new equipment and travel expenses. While many college athletic departments have embraced this fundraising mechanism, little is known about the effectiveness of crowdfunding in meeting fundraising objectives within athletic departments. A mixed-method approach was utilized to better understand how prevalent and successful crowdfunding campaigns are, which variables seem to impact whether a fundraising goal was met, and how college athletic fundraisers view the use of such campaigns. A total of 70 crowdfunding campaigns within NCAA Division I institutions were identified and examined through content analysis. Overall, 54.4% of campaigns met their stated financial goal. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and independent samples t-tests revealed that campaigns (a) focused on a single objective, (b) providing a greater number of updates, and (c) which included a greater number of reward tiers, were significantly more successful. In addition, qualitative interviews with development professionals (n = 11) revealed five primary themes regarding the effectiveness of crowdfunding campaigns: (a) new donor identification, (b) social pressure, (c) campaign specificity, (d) donor incentives, and (e) team participation.