Back the Buffs program aids in student fundraising

Audrey Roberson

West Texas A&M University is beginning to provide free crowdfunding services for selected student organizations.


Instead of resorting to third party sites, these organizations can apply to be part of the Back the Buffs program. This program utilizes two networks of people: the Alumni through the Department of Institutional Advancement and the friends and family of participating students. Both networks are directed to the crowdfunding site through social media and encouraged to make a donation for the prevalent cause.


“When you see success, you get pretty excited,” Becky Stogner, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, said. “We help shape the story these students create.”


Stogner said the crowdfunding program is best suited for organizations aiming to run a month-long campaign. The average gift ranges from $10-$50. In the time given, a campaign can usually raise about $5,000.


“We had a call program about six years ago, but that was about the time that people were transitioning from landlines to cell phones,” Stogner said. “Social media allows stories to spread much farther. What starts out as a social connection can reach much farther than a student’s own network of people.”


According to Stogner, crowdfunding is successful because of the organic content students create for their own causes.


“Social media is all about images. Crowdfunding allows donors to see exactly who and how their donation is helping,” she said.


Four organizations are or have been involved with the Back the Buffs program. The Bowling Team not only raised enough money to go to a tournament in Chicago, but they also exceeded their original goal through crowdfunding. The Forensics team used the program to help finance their trip to Barcelona. The travel writing course bound for South Korea is currently using the service and the Agriculture Department is developing content for their campaign to improve the Stanley Shaffer Agriculture Education Building.


“Now that WTAMU has given us this opportunity, we plan to take full advantage of it,” Laura Dangerfield, Mass Communication major, said. “[The crowdfunding campaign] would help to lower [the] cost and help to afford some extra things like museum tickets and food while we are in South Korea.”


Dangerfield is part of the group of students planning to go to South Korea from May 19 to June 1. They have been posting what they have learned in class and their progress in preparing for the trip on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag: #WTAsia2015. The posts have a link to their crowdfunding site.


“I want to experience South Korea as much more than just a tourist,” Dangerfield said in her post on the crowdfunding site. “I really just want to be thrown into this experience and this trip that my class and I will be taking in May. This takes the ‘out of the classroom’ idea literally to the other side of the world. Learning their culture first-hand from their people will be a dream come true.”


Stogner said each campaign has a different approach since each cause is different in itself. The Department of Agriculture will be crowdfunding to finance renovations for the Stanley Shaffer Agriculture Education Building. The purpose of the project is to raise money for an alumni and friends circle. The bricks will have names of individuals who donate $100 or more, and blocks will be given to individuals who donate $250 or more.


“The concept we are taking on this is ‘put your name in stone,’” Whitley Gammill, graduate student in Agricultural Education, said. “Our alumni is what has helped our program get where it is at now and we want them to understand the legacy they have left for our current students. We plan to have students sit down in a video interview and tell us what the building means to them. For many of our students, it’s not just a metal building, but a place where they have found themselves, found their passion for agriculture and developed their leadership skills. That’s what we want to share.”


Because the Department of Agriculture went through the Department of Institutional Advancement to do crowdfunding, the campaign will be able to reach the Agricultural Education and Agricultural Media and Communications Alumni.


“I think it’s a great program that offers another avenue of learning about social media but also aids in fundraising,” Gammill said. “This program helps students expand their audience as well as gain information on what goes into making the crowdfunding project successful.”



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