Crowdfunding Toolkit - NIU Impact


Thank you for your interest in NIU Impact, the crowdfunding platform where NIU students, faculty, staff members and researchers can raise money to turn their great ideas into reality. Since its inception in 2021, NIU Impact has helped raise over $286,000 from 1,877 total gifts, with the average donation being $152.80! To date, 67.5% of projects have reached their fundraising goal.

Before applying, please review the NIU Impact Crowdfunding guidelines and crowdfunding campaign requirements.

Deadlines and Important Dates:

  • Fall campaigns (Oct. 3-26, 2023): please apply by Sept. 13, at 11:59 p.m. CT.
  • Spring campaign (TBD 2024): please apply by Jan. 30, at 11:59 p.m. CT


We are looking for compelling stories, dedicated teams of at least five participants (more is preferred) and individuals who are comfortable asking other people for money. Eligible projects need to be: lead by NIU students, faculty and/or staff members and be nonprofit in nature; have a sponsoring NIU department, program or center in which donations can be deposited into; consist of a project leadership team who will be willing to create and market promotion materials before, during and after the campaign; and gain approval by submitting an application before the next round’s deadline. If you have any questions, contact Cody Carter,

Project Eligibility

Gifts made on the NIU Impact Crowdfunding platform are treated as gifts to the NIU Foundation. They are tax-deductible under NIU's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. They go through the NIU Foundation’s online giving, gift processing, receipting and recording protocols. So, use of the platform is restricted to projects that meet our eligibility criteria.

  1. Projects must plan to raise between $1,500 - $15,000 (most projects have goals of $2,500 - $8,000).
  2. Student-led projects must have a faculty or staff member sponsor.
  3. Campaign team consisting of a project leader and at least 1 other member, along with a team at least 5 volunteer ambassators.
  4. Funds raised must be used under the supervision of the NIU sponsor. Projects raising money that will be passed along to other nonprofits are *not* eligible.
  5. Projects must have the approval of the college dean and the ranking development officer in their relevant college or unit. Not sure who this is for your area? Contact us at

    Projects that do not meet all of these criteria are not eligible to use the NIU Crowdfunding platform.

Crowdfunding Roles

Project team

Project teams must have at least five people in leadership and ambassador roles, but we recommend having teams of 10 or more. The bigger your team is, the more likely you are to reach your fundraising goal. All project team members will complete crowdfunding training before launch. There are three key roles that make up each project team.

  1. Project leader
  2. Project sponsor (for student-led campaigns)
  3. Project ambassadors

Project Leader

The project leader is the point of contact between the NIU Foundation and the project team. This person is responsible for overseeing project progress and submitting project requirements. All projects are tasked with writing campaign updates, creating a campaign video and sending thank you notes. These tasks can be delegated to other team members. Remember, it is the projects leader’s responsibility to make sure tasks are completed.

Tools for Fundraising Leaders

Project sponsor

The project sponsor is a NIU faculty or staff member who will assist student-led crowdfunding campaigns. This person acts as a liaison between the project team and the NIU Foundation. This person is responsible for providing fund information and they will oversee the project’s fundraising and long-term stewardship strategy.

Project ambassadors

Project ambassadors are volunteers committed to fundraising on behalf of the project, and they are the driving force as to whether or not a crowdfunding campaign is successful. Ambassadors must complete our communications training and identify at least 20 people within their personal network to contact. Each ambassador is required to send at least five emails to their contact list during the campaign. These include pre-launch announcements, campaign updates and donor thank you emails. Ambassadors should also share campaign information and ask for donations on their social media accounts. We recommend 1-2 social media post per week while the campaign is on going. Ambassadors can also support the project leader with other aspects of the campaign. They can write campaign updates, appear in a campaign video, or send thank you notes. Check out our project ambassador toolkit to learn more.