Ignite LU, which was started in 2013 as a fundraising website run by the Lehigh Advancement team, promotes a philanthropic opportunity for student-run projects.
The gifts provided through Ignite LU allow students to move forward with projects or events that need a specific amount of funding to continue. Ignite LU allows students to procure funds for trips, projects, fundraisers, fraternities or sororities. Students can apply online through the Ignite LU website to be considered as a sponsored Lehigh project.
Karen Sims, the director of information processing, and Doug Ebersole, the director of the Lehigh fund special programs and participation, review applications and accept projects they feel are notable to the Lehigh community. Sims said they typically project 12 to 15 projects a year, and some years the same groups reapply.
To receive funds for their project, students submit a description of the project online to the Ignite LU project page. Donors interested in supporting a student project can read in detail about the project and decide if they want to donate to the cause. The donors have the ability to connect with an interest they may have at Lehigh.
Past projects included memorial scholarship funds, community service programs, fundraising for student programs at the Newman Center and fundraising for Choral Arts.
“We have had at least half fully funded or over funded (projects,) meaning the groups have raised more than their initial goal,” Sims said. “Some don’t do as well and that results from students not marketing their project.”
Students’ successes depend on how much they promote their project.
“We give them the tools to raise money, but it’s on the students to use social media to promote their own projects.” Ebersole said. “This website will help raise money, but we encourage students to use other resources as well.”
Sims said it’s great to be able to learn about different events on campus, support projects and initiatives, as well as increasing membership opportunities.
Ignite LU is working with Engineers Without Borders to raise money to implement a water collection and distribution system in Cebadilla, Nicaragua by developing a tank and piping system to distribute water throughout the community. Their goal is to raise $8,000, and the donations will help fund PBC piping and the necessary tools to implement this water collecting system.
“(Ignite LU) really helped us get small and big donors,” said Will Kuehne, ’17, the vice president of Engineers Without Borders.
Another project Ignite LU supports is Alpha Epsilon Pi’s chapter Programing and Education account. Josh Greenberg, the alumni AEPi adviser and graduate of Lehigh, said Ignite LU allows alumni to donate to a cause they have worked with before.
“Donors may earmark their gifts for a specific use (e.g., an academic department, club, team, fraternity/sorority, etc.) or make what’s called an unrestricted gift, in which case it goes directly to financial aid.” Greenberg wrote in an email. “As we write on our Ignite LU page, when a donor earmarks his or her gift to the Lehigh Fund, the beneficiary receives 100 percent of the gift and Lehigh is able to count it toward its annual fundraising goals and alumni giving participation rates so it’s a win-win.”
AEPi treasurer Allon Vitenson, ’17, likes the legitimacy that Ignite LU provides. He said alumni appreciate knowing exactly where their donations go, and Ignite LU provides that transparency. The donations are tax-deductible and go through Lehigh.
With the tax-deductible advantage, donors can be inclined to donate to a special interest group within the Lehigh community, and even the smallest donations are appreciated.