- 4 min read

Lessons learned: "Crowdfunding@UM: How to create a successful campaign?"

MPCER workshop 28 January 2021, by Guido Vanderbroeck (fundraiser SWOL/University Fund Limburg) and Esther van Barneveld (PhD student FHML)


Do you like to explore innovative and alternative ways for funding? And do you want to generate exposure and extend your network too? Then, crowdfunding might be a suitable mean to realise your ambition. But how can you achieve a successful campaign? And what are important lessons learned from previous campaigns?
(click on the images to enlarge)


General background

Crowdfunding is a hot topic. But what is it about? It is funding of a project through (often small) amounts from a large group of people, and it is going beyond traditional channels, funding and obtaining of support for a concrete goal, service or product. It is not all about funding, but also about marketing (getting exposure) and about creating (long-term) involvement and engagement. It is about inspiring other people and activating people around your project to solve a problem for someone.

Crowdfunding is not all about funding, but also about marketing and creating (long-term) involvement

When is a project suitable for crowdfunding?

  • Concrete, societal project with target amount
  • Limited timespan
  • Quid pro quo: you need to deliver output!

Why would people donate?
60% of donations are done because there is sympathy for the person(s) behind the project. 30% is made because funders have interest in the projects, and 10% is made because there is interest in rewards. This means that you are key in a campaign’s success!

One of the participants raises the question whether crowdfunding is appropriate to fund a scholarship. According to Guido, it is concrete and societally relevant. So, there is a potential. However, the question remains if there is a crowd behind it and if there is time to do a crowdfunding campaign. Another participant raised the question whether crowdfunding can be done for a start-up and how large the target group should be. Guido explains that SWOL only supports crowdfunding campaigns for UM entities. The size of the target group depends on what the project is about, and on the network around the project.

UM Crowd

Maastricht University created an innovative crowdfundingplatform entitled ‘UM Crowd’. They have finished 15 crowdfunding campaigns with various themes within UM (read more about them on: https://www.umcrowd.nl/projecten) and it is quite successful. The revenues are more than €300,000 with more than €160,000 indirect benefits due to network links.

What does UM Crowd offer?

  • Advice on a crowdfunding plan
  • Assistance during execution
  • Coordination crowdfunding platform
  • Administering donations

However, in the end the crowdfunder is in action!

What are criteria for crowdfunding?

  • It should be a concrete, societal, relevant project
  • There should be a crowd behind the project
  • Time and commitment crowdfunder

UM Crowd is looking for new projects in 2021, so here is your chance!         

Go to: www.ufl-swol.nl/crowdfunding

Some campaigns were very successful, as they were concrete and there was a big crowd behind in. Also flywheels (extra efforts) have shown to get the campaign to a next level. The projects that did not reach their target amount often lack dedication or were overestimated. Timing can also be very important.

How does the process look like?

The process can be split up in three phases: the pre-crowdfunding, the crowdfunding, and the post-crowdfunding. Each phase has its own message, network and channels:


Crowdfunding approach

SWOL uses the following canvas to carefully think about the crowdfunding campaign:

Think about the question: Why should I support this now?        

  • Project: The concrete, the better. It should have emotion, be urgent, and relevant
  • Why: think about the following question: Why should I support this now? Try to align with the 8 donation mechanism:
    1. Aware of urgency
    2. Request to donate
    3. Cost-benefit analysis
    4. Altruism
    5. Reputation
    6. Psychological benefits
    7. Norms and values
    8. Effectiveness
  • Community: Dare to ask! Make a list of people that might support you within different layers. Face-to-face contact is most effective (also time-consuming, but it will pay off).
    • Intimi (colleagues, family, friends)
      • Approach: face2face, telephone
    • Network (Acquaintance, volunteers etc.)
      • Approach: telephone, email
    • Mass (people and organisations you not directly know)
      • Approach: email, online

Identify the types of persons that might help you: a volunteer, a donor, or an ambassador. Where is most potential? People can also switch roles (or have multiple ones)

  • Promotions and communication: Promote in a unique way. Have as much as exposure as possible, and combine this with personal acquisition and flywheels/extra elements (such as a sponsored run). Also think about rewards.
  • Infrastructure (e.g. UMCrowd), target amount and costs (e.g. flyers)

Crowdfunding endometriosis


Esther van Barneveld shares her experiences about a crowdfunding campaign for women with endometriosis (tissue that grows outside your uterus). Ten percent of women in reproductive age suffers from chronic disease. Esther is developing an app for patients that will lead to better, more personalised treatment. With her crowdfunding, she wanted to raise money and increase the awareness about the disease. Based on her experience, she shared ten tips:

  1. Use text and pictures that attract people’s attention; do not use difficult words
  2. Organize a kick-off event
  3. Brainstorm with your team: make lists of networks and social media etc.
  4. Use influencers / ambassadors
  5. Find the right target population and the right time
  6. Rewards for donations
  7. Sponsoring from ‘companies’
  8. Do something ‘extreme’ (e.g. cycle 500 km)
  9. Ask friends to take action
  10. Make it easy to donate (e.g. tikkie or QR-code)


UMCrowd is still looking for projects for their crowdfunding platform! Do you want more information regarding the application? Go to: https://www.ufl-swol.nl/crowdfunding/.
Do you want to know more about UMCrowd? Contact SWOL/University Fund Limburg: info@ufl-swol.nl.

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