Using Crowdfunding To Motivate Students

The following is a guest post from Teach100 blogger Carissa Peck

When I read about motivating students, a lot of it comes down to things that I as the teacher am supposed to do, including:

  • Reinforcing positive behavior
  • Providing options for student assignments
  • Planning lessons around student interests
  • Providing students with positive reinforcement (i.e., pizza parties, stickers, extra credit)

The list goes on.

These teacher-focused motivation tools got me thinking — if I want my students to be motivated, why am I the one putting in all of the effort to keep them motivated? They should be intrinsically motivated, self-motivated — from this belief, my crowdfunding project was born.

Crowdfunding in My Classroom

We aren’t crowdfunding for a cool class party, an awesome field trip or some technological gizmo to make class more interactive. Instead of getting something for themselves, my students have selected a charity that they felt passionate about and created a fundraising page for it.

So what motivated my students? They surprised me. I expected them to choose sports- or celebrity-based charities. I learned a lot about my students from the charities they selected on their own. Here are a few highlights:

  • Build a Miracle: I teach in San Diego, Calif. Some of my students cross the border from Tijuana, Mexico, to get to school every day, so I wasn’t surprised that they were motivated by the idea of building houses for those who are less fortunate. Two groups fundraised for Build a Miracle:


  • Mary’s Mercy Center: One group of students was motivated to make sure people in North Carolina had a safe place to sleep at night. They made their page, Supporting Mary’s Mercy Center, along with a video that focuses on how lucky some of us are — encouraging others to give to those who are not as lucky.
  • The Tomorrow Project: The Tomorrow Project is a San Diego-based program that helps women become more employable. A group of three male students was motivated to help women feel confident that they would have a chance at a good tomorrow, so they created The Tomorrow Project CrowdRise Page.
  • Divine Mercy Care: One group of students was motivated to help mothers take care of their newborn babies, so they picked an east coast charity and created their Divine Mercy Care CrowdRise Page. My students were so excited to receive a thank you note from the charity — further proof that this activity reached beyond my classroom!
  • L’Arche USA: Some of my students were motivated by the chance to help those with disabilities. They created the L’Arche USA CrowdRise Page, which is trying to raise $150 for the organization.

    While these projects are examples of extrinsic motivation, they are doing this for more than just a grade — they really care about the charities they’re helping, and they want the end result to be positive. They want their videos to convince people to help out; they want to make a difference.

    Crowdfunding in Your Classroom

    This was a great classroom activity that combined reading, writing, research and technological skills, as well as group collaboration. It hit all of the appropriate standards and was more motivating than something that stayed within the classroom.

    As this point, teachers usually say, “Wow! That seemed great for your class, but how can I make this work with my class?” You can use this in any subject, and there are multiple ways to make this work for any class! Here are some examples:

    Crowdfunding Motivation in History:
    • Find a historical society. Have students research what the society does and why it is important. Fundraise to help the historical society do more!
    • Find a cause related to your curriculum. Studying Brown vs. Board of Education? Have students research zoning issues in certain cities, and see if they can fundraise to help a nonprofit that supports a more equal division.
    Crowdfunding Motivation in Science:
    • Find a cool technological gadget(i.e., DryBath, Life Straw) that can help people. Have students research how it works and fundraise to get more support for the new tool!
    • Have students research current events in science such as oil spills, climate change or earthquakes. They could research a potential solution (focusing on the science) and then crowdfund to support it.
    Crowdfunding Motivation in Physical Education:
    • Have students research positive attributes of staying active and crowdfund a charity that provides after-school athletics or provides athletic opportunities to schools and/or families that are less fortunate.
    • Have students focus on staying active themselves by planning a crowdfunding event. For every dollar donated, students must do jumping jacks, push ups, etc. This way their actions mean something!

    I hope you have become inspired to try a similar activity with your students. I’d also really encourage you to check out the pages my students made. If you were persuaded by any one of them, please share them on Twitter, Facebook or your favorite social media page. Use the hashtag #CrusadersCrowdfund or tag me (@CrusaderCarissa) or my school (@Mdcrusaders) so my students will know that they are making a difference.