Lily Daigle refreshes her webpage every 10 minutes; each click brings another victory. The junior Social and Decision Sciences major has 30 days to raise $7,500. If she were a student at another school, she might be going door to door for donations. But CMU has put a digital twist on college fundraising, adding some plaid to a Kickstarter-like model, a crowdfunding website where people raise money for individual projects. CMU’s platform recently went viral; and, at any time, at least five student leaders are using crowdfunding to raise money for their respective organizations.
For Daigle, it’s all about Camp Kesem, a one-week summer program for children who’ve been affected by a parent’s cancer. “People think it’s a therapy camp,” says Daigle, the director of Camp Kesem CMU. But it’s not. There are ziplines, kayaks, bonfires, a talent show. It’s a place for kids to be kids, to regain the childhood they may not have at home.
She knows this first-hand; growing up, she lost her father to kidney disease and, at age 15, attended a program similar to Camp Kesem. There, she learned that grief wasn’t a six-step process, but a journey. Other campers were learning the same thing, and they embarked on the journey together. So, when Camp Kesem Nationals launched its 62nd chapter at CMU, Daigle quickly got involved.
She and her team plan to raise $40,000, which will pay for about 40 campers as well as counselors and the cost of the campsite and supplies. The plan is for $7,500 to come from CMU crowdfunding, where donations go to the organization without administrative or processing fees. (In addition, contributors are considered CMU donors.)
After Daigle and her team were approved by the university’s crowdfunding review committee, they got busy building their campaign, which included making a video that was a collection of clips, pictures, and interviews involving touching stories.
When the campaign went live, the university emailed the news to alumni. The first week, $2,000 was pledged, which put Camp Kesem ahead of the goal. Donations slowed, though, so Daigle and her team reached out through email blasts, tweets, Facebook posts, even shouting across The Cut, “Hey, have you heard about Camp Kesem?”
After the 30-day run, $5,386 was raised. It wasn’t a complete victory, but it was enough to sponsor almost 11 youngsters for the summer camp, and it gave Daigle the motivation to go for the $40,000 goal.
—Elana Goldberg (DC’15)