Miami Turns to Crowdfunding to Put Finishing Touches on Major Campaign

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The Turnover Chain might not be the most noteworthy thing to come out of Coral Gables this year.

A look at the $34 million Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility. (Image via University of Miami Athletics)

Over the years, crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and others have risen to prominence and helped bring to life thousands of ideas and products.

If this strategy can work for tech products and personal fundraisers, why can’t the same apply for fundraising campaigns at universities?

That is exactly what the Hurricane Club at the University of Miami asked itself when they decided to launch their first crowdfunding campaign on August 28th, 2017, with

Since then, the campaign has raised over $300,000 dollars from over 500 supporters, putting the University that much closer to their $34 million dollar goal.

A first for the department, the staff couldn’t couldn’t be happier with the response from supporters.

“The positive reaction to this campaign shows the true passion our fans, donors, and alumni have for the University of Miami and Miami Athletics,” said Jesse Marks, Sr. Assoc. AD of Development. “We’ve received donations from supporters across 35 states so far, but the best part of this campaign is the Recognition Wall. When each donor makes a gift online, they have the option to leave a personal message for the team. These messages offer a brief glimpse into the love each person has for this program.”

Not only is the campaign attracting support from casual fans and alumni, it has gained the backing of some of the Hurricanes’ most prominent supporters, especially on social media.

“We’ve also seen an interest in the campaign by some of our most recognizable and generous supporters,” said Dillon Boggs, Director of Development for Annual Giving. “Former Miami Hurricane and NFL Pro Bowler Jon Beason helped spread the word by shooting a video discussing the importance of this facility to our football program. Philanthropist and star of CNBC’s show The Profit, Marcus Lemonis, created a Twitter storm by offering $20 per retweet up to $100,000 in support of the campaign.”

While not like other crowdfunding campaigns that tend to happen overnight, the Hurricane Club staff spent weeks ironing out every detail of the campaign.

“Crowdfunding is not a novel concept but one that has not been employed by Miami Athletics. However, we wanted to take this concept a step further. We invested a great deal of time and resources in developing because in return, we want our fans to do the same,” said Emily Boone, Asst. AD for Annual Giving. “We wanted our supporters to know we are serious about this project, and the tremendous impact it will have on our program.”

When it comes to raising $34 million dollars for a project, there are times of great momentum and times when support needs to be generated to get to the finish line. For the Hurricane Club, creating a grassroots movement that rewarded supporters with tiered gifts and experiences made the most sense.

“The Give2IPF crowdfunding campaign is designed to engage our entire fan base, which is important because it will truly take everyone’s involvement to complete this project. It is very much a grassroots level push for participation by incentivizing donations through exclusive benefits and experiences. What we liked about the campaign is that it truly shows the impact of a $50, $125, $500, and $1,000 donation towards a facility with a price tag of $34 million. Every gift matters, every gift counts,” said Marks.

Although not quite as buzzworthy as the Turnover Chain, this campaign is proof that quality support from a large group of people can push projects and departments forward.

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