Administrative Policies

AD90 Crowdfunding Solicitation Policy

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Office of Annual Giving, 814-863-2052,

Policy Steward: 

Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff


  • Purpose
  • Background
  • Definitions
  • Policy
  • Approval of a Crowdfunding Campaign
  • Crowdfunding Solicitation
  • Contacts
  • Further Information
  • Cross References

    The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) policy for soliciting donations using crowdfunding platforms from the general public, including students, alumni, faculty/staff, etc.


    The Office of Annual Giving provides and supports the Approved Platform(s) to host crowdfunding campaigns and, with appropriate approvals, will support campaigns launched via an Approved Platform.  In addition to any support offered by the Office of Annual Giving, successful crowdfunding campaigns may need numerous internal advocates of, and other approvals for, the campaign prior to the launch of the campaign on an Approved Platform.


    Approved Platform- internet websites hosting and facilitating crowdfunding which are approved by the Office of Annual Giving from time to time. 

    Crowdfunding- an internet-based, social fundraising effort in which a group of individuals solicit the general public for donations to support a project or initiative with which they are involved, or of which they are supportive.

    Campaign- a fundraising effort launched on an Approved Platform that is designed to raise a specified sum of money within a defined timeframe to meet an advertised goal or need.

    Campaign Leadership- individual(s) affiliated with Penn State who oversee the application, preparation, launch, and peer solicitation efforts related to a crowdfunding campaign launched on an Approved Platform.

    Data Steward- individual or department at Penn State who is responsible for oversight and management of the particular data involved.


    The Office of Annual Giving (“Annual Giving”) is assigned responsibility for approving and coordinating crowdfunding campaigns on Approved Platform(s).

    Any person, group or entity affiliated with Penn State wishing to conduct a crowdfunding campaign in the name of Penn State and in furtherance of its mission shall begin the process by applying to use an Approved Platform (process described below). If the application is approved by the Office of Annual Giving, Annual Giving will make available Penn State resources and support in the execution of the crowdfunding campaign. Approved crowdfunding campaigns will be considered a sanctioned fundraising initiative of The Pennsylvania State University (“Penn State”).

    All Penn State policies and procedures are applicable to crowdfunding.  This includes research compliance policies including, but not limited to, policies on intellectual property, conflict of interest, Human Participants Research (IRB), use of biohazardous materials (IBC and UIC), or Use of Vertebrate Animals (IACUC). Crowdfunding proposals for large or general research projects will not be approved. However, in certain circumstances, such as limited or discrete research projects (e.g., proof of concept funding) or certain incidental aspects of research, such as, student experiences, lab supplies, technology, or equipment that may be used in other applications outside the current applicant's research, may be approved. Any person, group or entity wishing to conduct crowdfunding campaigns for any research-related project must first consult the Office of Research Protections ( or (814) 865-1775) and obtain all necessary compliance approvals to ensure that their fundraising project will be conducted responsibly and in accordance with regulations that protect the human participants, animals, students, and personnel involved prior to the campaign application being submitted.

    Campaign leadership is responsible for ensuring that they have met all applicable requirements prior to the submission of their application and must produce any required documentation of compliance when the application is submitted. Documents can be sent to

    Approved Platforms do not provide intellectual property protection, and participants are advised that presenting your crowdfunding campaign to the public could result in others using your ideas and research before you can protect them with patents or other legal measures. Penn State Intellectual Property Policies and Guidelines apply to all work performed using crowdfunding resources.

    Any merchandise produced by the crowdfunding campaign for promotional purposes using the Penn State name or any of its marks or symbols must follow licensing guidelines and may be subject to prior execution of a written promotional agreement from the Licensing Programs Office.  See AD07 – Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices. Additionally, Annual Giving reserves the right to reject outright or remove any references to merchandise if it is deemed that such material may affect the tax deductibility of donors’ gifts.

    Participants are responsible for compliance with all laws and all other relevant University policies and procedures.  Please see the list of policies under Cross References below for links to certain relevant policies.  This list is not intended to be all inclusive.

    Penn State and the Office of Annual Giving reserve the right to refuse donations and contributions from any crowdfunding effort hosted on any platform other than an Approved Platform. Penn State does not accept payments from services such as Apple, Google, Block (Square), PayPal, or Amazon, and payments from those and similar third-party payment services which aggregate payments will not be accepted on any Approved Platform. Gifts through an Approved Platform may be tax deductible if made under Penn State's tax-exempt status and if they otherwise qualify for a tax deduction. Where appropriate, gift receipts will be issued to donors who make contributions to a crowdfunding campaign using an Approved Platform.


    All applications to use an Approved Platform will be reviewed by relevant parties within Penn State. However, final approval of a crowdfunding campaign on an Approved Platform rests solely with the Office of Annual Giving.

    If an application is not approved by the Office of Annual Giving, or a person, group or entity wishes to conduct a crowdfunding campaign on any third-party platform, such person, group or entity may not do so in the name of Penn State.  In addition, such person, group or entity may not use the name of Penn State or any of its marks or symbols for any purpose unless explicitly granted an exception, in writing, by the Office of Annual Giving in consultation with the Penn State Licensing Programs Office. The crowdfunding campaign may also not use Penn State alumni, parent, friend, or patient data in the execution of such outside campaign unless approved by the appropriate Data Steward. The conduct of any such outside campaign is done at the participant's sole risk, including any tax implications of raising funds on an individual basis and legal or criminal ramifications of utilizing patient data which is not in compliance with the Final HIPAA Omnibus Rule.


    1. Any individual, group or entity interested in creating a crowdfunding campaign on an Approved Platform may apply at any time using the applicable Approved Platform's crowdfunding application form. The application can be found at Upon receipt, the director(s) for crowdfunding in the Office of Annual Giving, or other staff person as assigned, will review the application, and arrange a consultation to discuss fund-raising potential, timing, audience and strategies.
    2. If approved, the requestor(s) will be responsible for preparing all materials and information related to their crowdfunding campaign. Annual Giving must approve the design, message, timing, and audience of any crowdfunding campaign prior to the launch of the campaign.
    3. Campaign leadership is responsible for identifying and collecting the contact information of potential donors to their crowdfunding effort. Similarly, the campaign is responsible for coordinating outreach to prospective donors in accordance with University policy (see Policy AD04). The Office of University Development is responsible for managing data used in Penn State communications in support of the crowdfunding campaign and is the sole owner of Penn State donor data.


    For questions, contact:

    The Office of Annual Giving

    2583 Gateway Drive, Bristol Place I, Suite 200

    University Park, PA 16801

    Phone: 814-863-2052

    Fax: 814-865-8755



    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of Annual Giving using the contact information in the "Contacts" section of this policy.


    AD04 - Development Solicitation

    AD07 - Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices

    AD11 - University Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records

    AD23 - Use of Institutional Data

    AD52 - Links to or from Penn State Web Pages

    AD53 - Privacy Statement

    AD54 - Web Page Design and Image

    AD69 - Accessibility of Penn State Web Pages

    AD83 - Institutional Financial Conflict of Interest

    ADG06 - Appropriate Use of Student Data

    FN03 - Substantiation, Disclosure, and Accountability for the Receipt of Contributions from Non-Governmental Sources

    FNG01 - Flow and Accountability of Gifts and Grants from Non-Governmental Sources

    RA14 - The Use of Human Participants in Research

    RA15 - Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals

    RA20 - Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interest

    SY14 - Use of Radioactive Materials

    SY24 - Use of Regulated and Biohazardous Materials in Research and Instruction

    Most recent changes:

    • April 4, 2022 - The process of using Penn State’s crowdfunding platforms was updated for consistency with existing business processes and some extraneous information was removed.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • October 31, 2016 - Editorial changes have been made in the CONTACT section to revise the address information, making it more general, rather than identifying employees by name.
    • April 1, 2016 - Editorial changes have been made in the CROWDFUNDING SOLICITATION section to reflect the new URL to be used, effective April 1, 2016, for any individual, group or entity interested in creating a crowdfunding campaign on an Approved Platform.
    • June 3, 2015 - New policy.

    Date Approved: 

    June 1, 2015

    Date Published: 

    June 3, 2015

    Effective Date: 

    June 3, 2015