Fundraising reaches new heights with KeanLift

By Christine Moukazis


Social media is pervasive in every facet of the digital age. It forces organizations to reinvent traditional business models to adapt to changing technologies.

Crowd-funding is a modern take on conventional fundraising efforts, employing the use of social media. Kean University is embracing this platform in its latest fundraising endeavor: KeanLift.

KeanLift is the university’s crowd-sourced fundraising program that bridges together students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends interested in financially backing specific projects.

This program is a joint effort between Dr. Jeffrey Toney, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Diane Schwartz, acting president of the Kean University Foundation, Dr. Susan Gannon, director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and Audrey Kelly, executive director to the Board of Trustees.

Toney, who has experience using blogs and social media for educating, attributes his inspiration for KeanLift to the power of social media.

“There was an article in The New York Times, about a year ago, that talked about use of crowd-funding websites to help start up companies and entrepreneurs,” said Toney. “That played a big role in thinking about why not apply this to help the university and support our students.”

Individuals and organizations interested in being featured on the KeanLift website must submit proposals.

Potential campaigns must support the university mission and add value to students’ education. If a project is not directly linked to Kean students’ education, then it must be proven how the proposal strengthens community involvement and how it connects with local communities.

“What we’re really looking for are innovative ideas of how to enhance the way we offer an education to our students or a way to enhance our community service,” said Toney.

The first fundraising project KeanLift featured was Par Fore, an established program that has been supported by the occupational therapy department at Kean for years. According to the campaign’s proposal, the initiative is to “prevent gang membership and violence through the promotion of healthy coping skills and resiliency.”

In just 30 days, the campaign exceeded its goal of $5,000, doubling the program’s usual fundraising amount. With extra funding, Par Fore was able to expand the number of students it brings into that program.

Toney said he believes that the sky is the limit in terms of how the university can get funding from not only the Kean community, but beyond.

“My hope is that over time we will have people globally contribute to our efforts,” said Toney. “The beauty of the web is there are no borders. It’s a borderless digital world.”

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