GOLDrush website
The University of Iowa this week launched its first-ever crowdfunding platform: GOLDrush.

A growing national trend, crowdfunding has made it simple to raise funds for projects from colleagues, family, friends—and even strangers who want to support a particular activity.

GOLDrush supports research and other academic-related activities, and provides an easy way for UI alumni, students and others to make tax-deductible contributions to specific UI-based organizations and projects. The name is based on the gold in Hawkeye black and gold (as well as a reference to money), and “rush” is related to the short timespan for most crowdfunding projects: typically 30 days or less.

“GOLDrush is an opportunity to further expand the culture of giving we have long cultivated at Iowa,” said UI Foundation President and CEO Lynette Marshall. “Donors can directly contribute to a specific project that matters to them, impacting real change in a short period of time.”

In partnership with the UI Foundation and the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, GOLDrush will give the UI’s faculty and staff an avenue for raising small amounts of money that have the potential to make a big difference. It also broadens the UI’s connection to its alumni and supporters, and enhances their personal investment in the world class research, education, and outreach taking place at the UI.

“Traditional grant funding is still appropriate for more complex and higher-dollar research projects,” said Dan Reed, Vice President for Research and Economic Development. “GOLDrush can get small-scale, time-sensitive projects off the ground more quickly. It offers a great opportunity for people to directly partner with UI researchers and scholars on early-stage projects that have the potential to develop further.”

The GOLDrush platform, found at goldrush.uiowa.edu, includes detailed descriptions of current funding opportunities.

Three pilot projects were selected for the launch of GOLDrush:

Project Lio-rama: Two of the more popular taxidermied mammals at the UI Museum of Natural History are a male and female African lion. Although they have a fascinating backstory, their planned full exhibit was never completed. The live pair was brought from Africa to Iowa City in the 1920s and took up residence in an Iowa City carriage house before becoming a feature of the long-since closed City Park Zoo. Unfortunately, the male, Harry, died in the extreme hot weather of July 1931 at just 2 ½ years old; the female, Josephine, much later of natural causes, in February 1939. Both were united at the Museum of Natural History, where they remain to this day. Campaign support would fund exhibition research, design, fabrication, and installation, including supplies and services and a paid part-time student position.

Health for All – Improved Health Access for Congolese Refugees in Iowa: Across the globe, women and children face barriers to the use of health services. Even here in Iowa, obstacles such as transportation, language, cultural differences, and confusion with a complex health system may prevent some members of our community from accessing essential services. As Johnson County has welcomed 239 Congolese refugees to Johnson County in the past year alone, the Health for All team wants to address barriers and improve access to health care services, especially among women and children. A team led by UI College of Public Health researchers, working collaboratively with the Congolese community, seeks funding to help develop a plan of action to provide culturally appropriate health care for expecting mothers and their families among Johnson County’s growing Congolese refugee community.

Distraction in Action: Helping Kids in Pain: Children in the U.S. have up to 20 immunizations before the age of 18, and are often extremely upset by needles. Fear of needles is not something to take lightly. Research has shown poor experiences with needles in childhood can lead to a lifetime of needle anxiety and health care avoidance. UI College of Nursing researchers are seeking funding for a highly individualized, research-based web-app–called “Distraction in Action”–so medical providers and parents can be effective distraction coaches for frightened children.

“Our team is excited about the possibility of partnering with Iowa’s philanthropic community through crowdsourcing to accelerate our project timeframe,” said Ann Marie McCarthy, a professor at the UI College of Nursing and lead investigator of the Distraction in Action project. “This will allow us to extend our app more quickly to serve a broader community such as critical access hospitals in rural Iowa and beyond.”

Faculty and staff interested in submitting GOLDrush project proposals may contact Theresa Jubert, Digital Fundraising Strategist, at 319-467-3659 or theresa-jubert@uiowa.edu.

The University of Iowa Foundation’s mission is to advance the University of Iowa and fulfill the aspirations of those it serves. The university’s dedicated contributors fund a broad array of needs, from student scholarships, breakthrough research and life-changing health care to innovative facilities, community outreach and global education. More at www.uifoundation.org and on Twitter: @givetoiowa.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at http://research.uiowa.edu, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.