Longhorns are digitizing fossils, tracking migrating butterflies and building sanitary bathrooms at an elementary school in a developing country.
But they need your help to complete these projects.
Through HornRaiser, the university’s new crowdfunding platform, the Longhorns spearheading these and other projects are asking for financial support to turn their plans into realities.
Each campaign aims to raise a modest amount of money no more than $15,000 in a short amount of time, between 30 and 45 days. Giving donors a direct way to connect with specific projects on the Forty Acres, HornRaiser also allows students, faculty and staff to kick start new projects and push existing ones to new heights.
“It’s a new channel that not many colleges and universities are using yet,” says Adrian Matthys, director of Annual Giving.
The first three HornRaiser projects began raising funds in late November and completed campaigns at the start of 2015. More than 200 people contributed a combined total of more than $30,000 during that initial round of HornRaiser campaigns.
Those donations helped cover costs for McCombs School of Business students to travel to Central America to help vocational students create business plans and secure microloans. They also helped fund the construction of a solar-powered home students are creating as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.
“All of these donations,” Matthys says, “go to real projects to accomplish real things.”
The donations also come with some fairly unique perks, such as use of a high-tech camera to take photographs of bugs, adopting a fossil of your own or watching a student band perform in a private concert.
[Help fund world-changing projects and get insider access: Contribute via HornRaiser.]
The second round of HornRaiser projects, which are currently accepting donations, include:
- Adopt-A-Fossil: The Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab in the Jackson School of Geosciences is raising money to buy a high-tech laser scanner to help produce 2-D and 3-D imaging of fossils from around the world, providing virtual access to this record of life held in the research collection.
- Insects Unlocked: Donors to the Insect Image Lab are helping a team of students learn to take spectacular digital photographs of Texas’s smallest wildlife, with the resulting pictures being open to public use. In other words, your daughter’s science-fair project about bees is going to look amazing. This project proved to be so popular that it has almost doubled its initial goal.
- Camp Champions for Fifth Graders: UT Elementary School, situated in the heart of an underserved and once dilapidated community, hopes to raise the funds needed to send 40 fifth-grade students on a three-day, two-night field trip to Camp Champions in Marble Falls, Texas, where the students will build new skills and be challenged to explore new heights through archery, fishing, rock climbing, high-ropes courses, kayaking and other activities.
- Safe and Sanitary Toilets for a Tanzanian School: A team of nine Cockrell School of Engineering undergraduates is partnering with the non-profit Tanzania ecoVolunteerism to design, build and install new latrines for visually impaired elementary school students in Tanzania. This project has also reach 100 percent of its goal and is still collecting funds through April 16.
- Tracking Monarch Butterflies on Offshore Oil Platforms: To better understand the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies, Tracy Villareal, a professor in the Department of Marine Science in the College of Natural Sciences, is developing an app for offshore workers and citizen scientists to track butterfly sightings on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Shining New Light on Alzheimer’s Disease: Researchers in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences hope to develop more effective drugs to fight Alzheimer’s and are asking for donations to fund new studies and further explore prior breakthroughs.
- Fine Arts Library Recording Studio: UT Libraries and the College of Fine Arts have plans to launch a state-of-the-art studio for all students, faculty and staff to create music and are asking for donations to buy recording equipment.
- The School of Law Classes of 2010, 2005 and 2000 are using HornRaiser to help fund upcoming reunions.
“There are so many projects happening all across campus,” Matthys says. “Not everybody gets all the funding they need, and that can be hard. HornRaiser helps fill the gaps and push projects to the next level.”
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Furthermore, he says, researchers often have to spend too much time trying to secure funding instead of working on projects. Researchers who get donations from supporters of their work will, in turn, have more time to spend in labs and the field.
If campaigns raise more money than anticipated, the extra funds will typically pay for additional research, more work on the project or additional tools to help improve the original concept. If the campaigns are unable to meet the goals the money will be used to partially fund the original concept.
Unlike some other crowdfunding platforms on which donors pledge an amount that isn’t contributed until an overall goal is met, HornRaiser donors contribute to the projects both immediately and regardless of the goal being reached. Donations made through HornRaiser are completely tax deductible, and the funds go entirely into university accounts.
Matthys says a third round of projects will raise donations on HornRaiser in the fall. Interested applicants, however, may apply at any time.
“We want people to know,” Matthys says, “there are countless giving opportunities at all levels across the university.”
“Honey bee visits Texas bluebonnet” courtesy of Alex Wild and Insects Unlocked on Flickr.