Postgraduate Funding for University Students through Grants from Charity | GradFunding

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Kez Conroy, MRes Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation, UCL
Raising funds for fees with Crowdfunding.

kez profile1

My name is Keziah Conroy, and I've just graduated from University College London, where I got a First Class in BSc Geography. For my final year dissertation, I planned a project which involved collecting data from dung-loving fungi to shed light on the Late Quaternary megafauna extinctions -famous casualties of which included woolly mammoths, giant sloths and sabre tooth cats. I won the prize for the best physical geography dissertation in the year for this work.

I'm a bit of a geek and I really enjoyed the scientific process of my dissertation, so I decided my next step was do a Master of Research, and I got an offer on the MRes Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation, at University College London, the Natural History Museum, and the Institute of Zoology (Zoological Society of London).

I managed to get a £2,000 scholarship from the university, but the fees are £13,285. With my rent in a London flatshare being about £7,000 a year, I knew I wouldn't be able survive even with a well paid full-time job, and a loan wouldn't be very financially responsible.

So I began to use Hubbub to crowdfund the remainder of my tuition fees: the link is https://hubbub.net/p/MRes4Kez/. As of today I'm at 52% of my funding goal with nearly £7000 funded, with power to add.

I was inspired by the other examples of students successfully crowdfunding their postgraduate fees. I've tried to follow the example of other successful campaigns.  So, I thought up a catchy title that would double as a hashtag: #MRes4Kez.  I spent £4.99 on an iPhone app and asked one of my friends to spend a couple of days shooting footage and editing a video.  I asked my friends and family to pledge me a little, and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, and to invite their friends to 'Like; my Facebook Page, where I'm engaging my audience with updates and pictures of cats. I've written to influential people I know or admire and asked them to spread the word, too. I've now had more individual pledges from strangers than people I personally know.

I worried a lot about how people would react - after all, asking people for money is never fun. But offering some tangible rewards, including a thank you card, and some geeky prints, makes it feel less uncomfortable.

I'm also applying for charity awards listed in the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, and hopefully some of these will be successful, and compliment the money I have raised through crowdfunding.

I want to inspire other hopeful students to take the plunge and make it happen with crowdfunding.

UPDATE (OCT 2015): Kez has also received an award from Eastoft Parish Council for £250. So she has begun to combine her crowdfunding effort with charity awards- getting the best from both worlds! We encourage others to do likewise. If you are crowdfunding, try charities! If you have got charity awards, try crowdfunding!

We think Kez's story once again demonstrates the untapped potential in crowdfunding. In particular, we note that the majority of her funders are people she does not personally know, indicating that strangers can and will help you if you are prepared to ask, and go about it in the right way, and are prepared to promote yourself.  You can also check out another of our student stories - Genevieve - who has used a similar approach.

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