Projects with impact test new campus crowdfunding platform

Building a mini-grid to distribute electricity in Uganda. Mapping the social and visual landscape of Oakland’s International Boulevard. Bringing the science of a meaningful life to the public. These are among the projects that are part of a new crowdfunding platform for the UC Berkeley campus that’s nearing the close of its beta launch.

Donation-based crowdfunding has grown exponentially in recent years; in 2013 alone, crowdfunded projects raised an estimate $1.4 billion.

“Just as social media changed norms and expectations for communication, crowdfunding is changing the future of fundraising,” said crowdfunding expert Richard Swart, a consultant for

The goal of the pilot, or beta, launch — which opened April 6 and closes Wednesday, May 6 —  is to test the infrastructure required to make a scalable crowdfunding platform available to the entire campus, and to prove the platform’s viability as a means to fund worthy student and faculty research programs.

“If the beta launch succeeds, we won’t just raise a few bucks for a few projects — we will set the stage for a decade of ongoing community support for the most innovative projects on the Berkeley Campus,” said Jas Johl, Berkeley’s director of crowdfunding strategic initiatives.

Here are snapshots of the beta projects so far. Links to each are below the slideshow.