FAQs for Students

What is SoundCrowd?

SoundCrowd is a crowdfunding platform, like KickStarter or GoFundMe, except that SoundCrowd is for use only by Academy students, Fellows and, occasionally, recent graduates. SoundCrowd will help you raise money for projects or initiatives that can’t be funded through any other Academy scheme.

Who can create projects?

The Royal Academy of Music welcomes applications from students, Fellows or recent alumni of the Academy who have a project for which they would like to raise money. The project leader must be confident that their project clearly complements the Academy’s mission, have a passionate team to support the project, and have the backing of at least one Academy staff member or ‘referee’.

How much can I raise for a project?

Projects tend to raise between £500 and £5,000, although there is no set limit.

What types of projects can I post?

Projects must be music- or education-related and must fit within the Academy’s stated goals. Unfortunately this scheme cannot support student fees, day-to-day living costs or instruments for personal rather than Academy use. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • An innovative concert involving curation, promotion or working with a venue
  • Commissioning a new work for you to premiere
  • A scheme working with young people, health, or within the community using your musical skills
  • Starting a festival
  • Making a commercial recording
  • A special project collaborating with other musicians, visual artists, writers or dancers, leading to a specific outcome
  • Funding to travel somewhere to make something special happen
  • A combination of all of the above

How do I create a project?

We ask you to complete a short application form detailing your project, including costings, completion date and aims. This will be reviewed by the SoundCrowd committee, which is made up of Academy staff, and if successful you will earn a place on SoundCrowd. However, before you submit an application we strongly suggest you schedule a conversation with Kurstin Finch Gnehm, Head of Individual Giving and Legacies, for more detail and tips and tricks to improve your chances of success. You can contact her on 020 7873 7425 or kgnehm@ram.ac.uk.

All-or-nothing funding?

Like most crowdfunding platforms, you will only receive the funds raised if the project reaches the minimum threshold in the allocated timeframe. If your project does not raise the amount needed, no funds will change hands. If you decide to crowdfund your project it is therefore important that you are fully committed to it.

Are rewards required?

Yes! We’ve found offering rewards for donations helps donors engage with your project and encourages donations.

Who creates the rewards?

You and your team create the rewards. The better they are, the more likely you are to get donations. However, the cost and number of rewards are also controlled by you, so do consider this when choosing them. Again, the Development Office is able to provide advice and support.

What happens after I submit my project?

The committee will review your application once you have submitted it. If your project is successful, a member of the fundraising team will be in touch with next steps, which are likely to include: - Signing the terms and conditions for using SoundCrowd - Recommendations for improvements to your plans - Training workshops

Can I edit my project after submitting?

Once the project is live you will not be able to make changes. However, you are welcome to add updates to your project once published (like a mini blog), as this encourages donors to keep track of the latest developments.

Can I change my minimum funding goal or completion date after submitting?

No, editing your project after submission is not permitted.

Can I edit my project after funding is completed?

No, this would not be fair to your donors. They have donated for one purpose and it would not be fair to spend it on something different.

Can I cancel my project?

You can cancel a project by informing the Academy’s Development Office directly on kgnehm@ram.ac.uk. We will notify your donors.

Can I retry if unsuccessful?

Yes. If you didn’t reach your minimum threshold, we are happy to discuss alterations you want to make to improve your chances the next time round. Please review our crowdfunding guide and review other successful projects.

What happens if funding is completed before the completion date?

Nothing! There isn’t an option to end a project early. Donations will be collected at the completion date. We allow donors to continue donating even after your target has been reached, so you could even generate more.

Can I raise more than my minimum threshold?

Yes. Your minimum target reflects the smallest amount of money you need to carry out the project. If you raise more, this can go towards enhancing your project.

Where can I find donors?

Finding donors is vital if you are to achieve your funding target. The Academy’s Development Office can give you advice on how to promote your project. Please also read our promotion guide and attend at least one of our fundraising workshops, which will help you create strategies for effective promotion.

Do I have to make a video?

No, but a video is highly recommended as it greatly improves your chances of achieving your funding target.

Can I add a video later?

No, you can't edit a project after submitting it.

What types of video can I use?

We accept Vimeo or YouTube videos.

How large can my video’s file size be?

Vimeo's basic account has a limit of 500MB per file and 5GB for premium accounts.

How many images can I have?

As many as you like! You just need to enter the web address of the image in your project description. Please remember that if a professional photographer credited the images, they must be credited on SoundCrowd.

Can I use music in my video?

Yes, but only if you have permission to do so from its owner. Alternatively you can use any music from the Free Music Archive at http://freemusicarchive.org.

Can I embed media?

You can add images and videos to your project description using the image and video tools.

What are updates?

The best way to keep in touch with your donors is through regular updates on your SoundCrowd page. This is like a regular blog post, Facebook status or tweet. It lets donors know about developments in your project and how you’re getting on. Regular updates show anyone viewing your project that you are committed to it and that there is a real person behind it. It ensures your project stays on their mind and they may be more inclined to share it with their own networks and friends!

What media can I use in updates?

You can use images, but not videos.

Will supporters know if I’ve posted an update?

Yes, we will notify them automatically.

What is my responsibility for answering questions from donors?

Donors will ask you questions about your project – they might want to know about your rewards or how you will carry out your project, or even more about you! You should get into a routine of answering your donors’ questions promptly. If you find that different donors are asking the same questions, answer with an update to your project so that anyone viewing it can see this important information. You should not give out personal details or contact information.

What if I can’t complete my project as listed?

You must cancel your project immediately. However, please be aware this could damage your reputation and that of the Academy. Please cancel a project by informing the Development Office. We will notify your donors, but you should do so too, and remember to thank them for their support.

What if I can’t deliver a reward?

Get in touch with the donor(s) immediately. Being honest and open (after all, these things happen) will result in donors who are far more understanding. You may be asked to provide a different reward. In very rare instances, a donor may request a refund. When you submit your project you will be asked to agree to a refund policy, which we will also display to the donor when they make a pledge.

FAQs for Donors

Important terms

Project leader – the student or Fellow responsible for the project.

Project team – any other students, alumni, staff or external people involved with the project.

SoundCrowd committee – the group of Academy staff overseeing the application process.

Sponsor – someone who wants to donate to a project.

How do I give?

If you are interested in donating to a project, you are welcome to make a pledge via SoundCrowd. We call it a pledge because the project will not receive your gift unless it has enough pledges to meet the minimum threshold – if it doesn’t, the donation is never taken from your card. All donations are processed through a payment service called Stripe. Stripe facilitates our use of pledges and all-or-nothing funding. It’s vital in helping us provide a reliable service for donors, and is completely secure. Your details will not be shared with any other organisation without your approval.

How do I make a pledge?

Simply find a project you like and click on the ‘Sponsor this Project’ button on the right-hand side of the page. Then follow the on-screen instructions.

When is my card charged?

SoundCrowd uses Stripe as its payment mechanism. If the project you pledge to achieves its minimum needed, your card will be charged at the project deadline. If the project is unsuccessful no money changes hands, your card/account will not be charged.

Can I pledge anonymously?

Yes. When you make a pledge you will be given the option of displaying your name and the value of your pledge, just your name, or remaining anonymous. If you select a reward and the project you support achieves its minimum needed, we will share your contact details with the project team so that they can deliver your reward.

Is the value of my pledge made public?

Not automatically. We leave it entirely up to you to decide whether your name and contribution should be displayed, as described above.

What information about me do you give to the students?

Project leaders can see your username, the amount you’ve donated and the reward you’ve selected. If you choose to receive an award they will also be able to see your contact details.

Will you notify me if a project I’m sponsoring is successful?

Yes, you will receive an email telling you whether or not the project has been successful. You should also refer to the project page for regular updates on the project you have pledged to support.

Can I change my pledge?

No. You will not be allowed to amend an existing donation but you can add another one to the project.

Can I cancel my pledge?

You may cancel your pledge if necessary. To do this please contact Kurstin Finch Gnehm, Head of Individual Giving and Legacies at the Academy, on 020 7873 7425.

What happens if my credit card is declined?

Don’t worry, if this happens you will be sent a re-pledge link so you can resubmit your donation. Please make sure you have the necessary funds available and re-donate.

How can I add Gift Aid to my pledge?

If your gift qualifies for Gift Aid, we will ask you for all the details required. We will then claim back the Gift Aid tax relief and use this to support future projects.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid is a tax relief available to UK-registered and tax-exempt charities, like the Academy. To qualify, pledges must come from a UK taxpayer.

Can I change my reward selection?

No, but if you would like a specific reward, you are welcome to make another gift!

When will my reward be delivered?

If a project achieves its minimum target, you will receive your reward by the approximate delivery date stated on the project page. If you would like more information, you can contact the project leader directly through their profile or project page.

Can I trust the project team?

While we can’t guarantee the outcome of any project, we are confident that the students involved are aware of their responsibilities and obligations. Each project team has gone through a rigorous application process and been reviewed and approved by senior staff at the Academy. If you have any concerns, you are welcome to contact the project team directly on the project webpage. There is a button on every project page where you can report anything that looks suspicious.

How can I get more information about a project?

You can contact the project team directly via their profile or project page. If you have already sponsored a project and would like to make your question public, you can post a comment on the project. The project leader will be notified by email when you do.

Will projects be completed as described?

The projects have been selected by the Academy’s committee based on the students’ commitment and dedication to their projects. They have also received training about what will be expected of them. It is up to the project team to bring their project to life and update you on the progress of their projects.

If you have any further questions please contact Kurstin Finch Gnehm, Head of Individual Giving and Legacies, on 020 7873 7425 or kgnehm@ram.ac.uk.