University of Minnesota Foundation

The University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) coordinates and executes fundraising activities on behalf of all University of Minnesota campuses, colleges, and programs. The University of Minnesota Foundation was challenged with a way to unify many individual campaign pages, and they lacked a way to collect crowdfunded donations effectively. They needed a robust, scalable crowdfunding platform to accommodate the diverse range of causes and interests of the more than 66,000 students on seven campuses, plus the associated faculty and staff. Skvare developed the UMF crowdfunding website in CiviCRM and Drupal with customizations to boost the power of team campaign and personal campaign pages, social sharing, user interface and reporting. The new crowdfunding website empowers supporters to create personalized fundraising web pages to share with their family and friends in just a few simple steps.  

The University of Minnesota Foundation chose CiviCRM to integrate with existing software and avoid the high fees and prescribed functionality of commercial peer-to-peer fundraising services. UMF selected Skvare to build the crowdfunding website for their expertise in custom CiviCRM implementations, hosting and maintenance.  


Personal Campaign Pages (PCP’s) are at the heart of peer-to-peer fundraising drives, allowing individuals to share their cause with friends and family. Skvare added features to improve the styling and effectiveness of the PCP’s, such as:

  • a rich style editor for users to configure text and media,
  • displaying the total raised up to and beyond 100% of goal,
  • adding an end date for the campaign,
  • ability to add videos,
  • addition of help text to guide users, and
  • the option to add custom fields.

UMF wanted to provide a way for people to give completely anonymously, so donors now have the option to appear anonymously on the public-facing PCP donor roll and the private donation notification to the campaign manager.


UMF wanted to give teams the ability to collectively fundraise and compete with other teams. Skvare built upon the existing PCP functionality that focuses on individual peer-to-peer giving, developing a new extension to relay data between team pages and personal campaign pages. The team campaign pages aggregate data from each of the individual fundraisers on that team, showing totals raised by their team members on the team campaign page.

Other improvements to team pages were the ability for users to add videos or photos to their personal pages or team pages using a simple WYSIWYG editor. These improvement highlight the flexibility of CiviCRM’s open-source platform for customized solutions.


One goal was to create a positive user experience so that donors and fundraisers can easily find what they need, since users may abandon their transaction if it’s confusing or takes too many steps. UMF’s crowdfunding website employs Search API integrated with Drupal Views to accurately find and display some of the more than 400 personal or team campaign pages. A new Drupal module, Views CiviCRM Expose Tables, allows all the participant information or team page information to be clearly displayed. The screenshot below shows how this module returns results.


Additionally, breadcrumbs are built into pages to show where the user is in relation to the primary, team and personal campaign pages. The site is fully responsive for viewing on all screen sizes.


Team campaign page administrators have the option to select custom, readable URL’s, thereby taking a complex URL like this to a readable URL with text related to the campaign like this Custom URL’s are an excellent way to make sharing the team campaign page easy, and it can garner higher search engine rankings than a URL with letters and numbers.


Sharing via email and social media is central to the success of peer-to-peer fundraising. UMF’s crowdfunding site allows campaign contributors to easily share their contribution activity via social media to encourage other teams or individuals to do the same.

Another way that donors could be drawn into the fundraising campaigns was that when someone makes a donation, that person is given the option of becoming a campaign member, too. If they elect to, they could choose their preferred campaigns to fund. The website would then grant them the title of crowdfunders.


Finally, none of the above features would be of much value if the donations couldn’t be tracked and receipted in a timely manner. Donors get an automatically generated receipt, and the team captain or group administrator also gets notified of every donation. To keep track of important details, administrators at UMF have the ability to add information to the back end of contribution pages. A specially-built integration provides the accounting department with a feed of all the donations, too. Skvare created a custom XML feed to pass all of the donation information to UMF’s donor database. This ensures that donor information goes to one central space for receipting and accounting.


The University of Minnesota Foundation’s crowdfunding website is a prime example of the type of large-scale, flexible solutions that Skvare can develop with open-source tools. The website empowers supporters to create personalized fundraising web pages to share with their family and friends in just a few simple steps, through a user-friendly, responsive interface.

Skvare customized the giving site to suit UMF’s specifications, adding many new features by extending CiviCRM and Drupal software. The University of Minnesota Foundation and their donors will benefit from this model that has predictable costs and avoids the high fees and prescribed functionality of commercial peer-to-peer fundraising services. With Skvare’s ongoing support and maintenance, it’s a winning combination.

"The University of Minnesota's crowdfunding efforts are having a major impact on digital fundraising and supporter engagement. Following the launch of the U's crowdfunding platform in November 2014, U crowdfunders raised a total of $463,508 in less than a year and a half--more than a 350 percent increase in crowdfunding dollars raised prior.

Skvare developed, hosts and maintains the full implementation of the U’s crowdfunding platform that has played a key role in helping to grow the University's giving day by more than 50 percent in 2015, when the U community raised $515,000 in a single day for University causes. Approximately 69 percent of crowdfunding donors are new to the University, making the site a great donor acquisition tool. Crowdfunding campaigns have also helped boost alumni engagement as well.

To date, crowdfunding gifts from more than 400 fundraising pages have grown 85 University of Minnesota funds, supporting everything from student scholarships to medical research for rare diseases."

Robyn White, Digital Content Manager