Crowdfunding Helps After-School Nonprofit Fitness Program Spread Health to Students

The first time she walked into a gym – not far removed from a thyroid cancer diagnosis and giving birth to her second child — Jocelyn Coughlin was overweight, embarrassed and intimidated. She had taken her health for granted for far too long.

Now, Coughlin, a 28-year-old high school science teacher, is spreading her good health to make sure no one feels the way she once did. Her message is relayed through a nonprofit she established to provide after-school health education and fitness experiences to youth in Worcester, Mass.

After starting out with just a few kids five years ago, FITCLUB Foundation Inc. has grown to include more than 100 students across two high schools and two elementary schools, where one-hour workouts are devoted to huffing and puffing between kids who traditionally have not been exposed to fitness.

The 501(c)(3) organization has grown so much that Coughlin has turned to crowdfunding to continue to expand the program, purchase equipment and pay for additional qualified fitness trainers. Coughlin, the chairperson of the science department at Worcester Technical High School, said her campaign, which she posted on the free crowdfunding site, has garnered more support than what small fundraisers and contributions had in the past.

YouHelp is also providing Fitclub with access to like-minded groups including fitness instructors and local studios and gyms interested in partnering to lead different exercise routines each week or sponsor health-related events. Coughlin said Fitclub has teamed with the Worcester Fitness Center, which will host a Spin-A-Thon, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sunday, March 25, 2018.

Coughlin said she is promoting the event, which will include three instructors and 23 teams of supporters, on YouHelp and via social media. Already, in addition to Worcester Fitness, she has attracted GH2, Crossfit Worcester, Fit Friendzie, Kelley's Bootcamp, NV Fitness, and the Fitness Asylum to help sponsor the event.

Money raised at the Spin-A-Thon will be put toward expanding the Fitclub program to even more locations, where students who do not participate in team sports will be able to find an after-school outlet to help keep them in shape. Fitclub aims to serve as an after-school home or provider for these students as well as those who are disabled or come from impoverished families.

Physical education is mandatory for high school students in Worcester, but Coughlin said the courses are not on par with the workouts offered at FITCLUB. About 40 percent of the current Massachusetts high school student population, does not take part in a team sport, either.

Coughlin said she wasn’t a member of a team sport in high school. And she does not want to see the current generation of kids — like she did — develop unhealthy habits later in life. Coughlin knows what she is talking about. She had ballooned to some 200 pounds.

Now that her cancer is in remission and she has shed some 75 pounds, thanks to cardio workouts and weight training, Coughlin has embraced the idea of making her city a place where students can participate in diverse health and fitness activities – and have fun., is a free fundraising website that offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking schools, students, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals with an eye toward promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestlyes and connecting their campaigns to the public. 

The YouHelp process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, add high resolution images and a compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and and the campaign is promoted properly, contributors will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer for YouHelp

For the Birds – Crowdfunding Rescues Cornell University’s Endangered Biodiversity Field Studies

Roaming through the stunted shrub oaks and knee-high palmettos in one of America’s most endangered habitats can get rather expensive for budding scientists who are more likely to engage a gopher tortoise or scrub-jay than a classroom smartboard.

Field study through the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology can cost Cornell University graduates students $2,000 beyond course tuition. But, the hundreds of burgeoning biologists who have made the two-week pilgrimage to the Archbold Biological Field Station in south central Florida say the hands-on experience can provide the spark that ignites a professional career.

the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology sought the assistance of a crowdfunding campaign. Not only was $15,000 raised to cover housing, transportation, field equipment and lab fees for about 12 graduate students, Cornell officials were able to establish an endowment for the Root-Marks Fund for Field Teaching.

Thanks to the crowdfunding effort, students can learn to think like scientists again in the solitude of the Archbold ranch, where the field study program has been held for 25 sessions spanning 50 years. In that time, high costs, management issues and institutional regulations have drastically cut the number of field courses at colleges and universities in the United States in half.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform, said to support out-of-the-box experiential biodiversity learning where the world is the classroom, colleges, universities, faculty and students need to connect to a community of individuals who are passionate about these same topics for funding.

What exactly is biodiversity?  Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. For example, A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops. Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.” (, Why is Biodiversity Important Who Cares, January 2014)

Peter Marks, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell, said field studies provide graduate students hands-on experience in defining questions and designing field investigations. The exposure equipped Morgan Mouchka, Ph.D. ’14, with the skills and tools she needed to become a top-notch investigator and advocate for global conservation and biodiversity. The alumnus and crowdfunding ambassador for the program said the bonds and friendships she developed during her field study have lasted beyond graduate school.

Located in an out-of-the-way section of the northern Everglades, the Archbold Biological Stations attracts scientists from all over the world to study plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. The 9,000-acre nonprofit is dedicated to studying, interpreting, preserving and restoring Florida’s scrub ecosystem, an endangered remnant of the beaches and sand dunes that have stood exposed above sea level for more than 1 million years., is a free fundraising website that offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking schools, students, nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to connect their fundraising campaign to the public. When you create a biodiversity campaign on YouHelp, people will be able to support the protection and conservation of our ecosystems; and contribute to ecological health projects in plant, marine and wildlife biodiversity.

The YouHelp process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, add some high resolution images, a compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and and the campaign is promoted properly, people will pledge their support.


About the Author: Staff Writer at

Buried Treasure: Crowdfunding Protects White Truffles, Promotes Biodiversity

Less than ideal weather has fans of Italian white truffles willing to bid more than a hundred thousand dollars for the increasingly rare mushroom.

A forest truffle is actually a mushroom, but an unusual one—it grows underground. Obviously, that means they're especially difficult to find since you can't see them…truffles are one of the world's most expensive ingredients…

Friends of the prized fungus say white truffles need cool, wet weather to thrive and can only be found in the wild – in wooded, humid regions. One of those places is Alba, Italy, a little town south of Turin where hunters and their dogs forage public and private lands for the mushroom from autumn through late February. That was until an invasive species of ivy combined with insufficient rainfall stunted the harvest.

Frustrated and concerned about the increasingly shortened season, “white diamond” hunters and like-minded groups got together to start a crowdfunding site to safeguard the natural environment of Alba and the biodiversity of the white truffle.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform, said crowdfunding can be a trusted solution for conservationists who value biodiversity, but either don’t have the background, time or resources to get involved in projects, that might be thousands of miles away.

The crowdfunding campaign, “Breath the Truffle,” set out to raise awareness about biodiversity and the importance of keeping the existing truffle-growing areas of the forest in Alba clean. Organizers figure if they can’t control the climate, they can at least try to monitor the environment.

Interest in the biodiversity of white truffles is hardly surprising. After a dry, hot summer, the price of white truffles in 2017 more than doubled from the previous year to about $3,000 per pound. Buyers are naturally looking for the best quality, which means truffles that are large, fresh and pungent.

The real truffle is a lattice of sorts or web of threads which runs underground and lives in symbiosis with the plants above the ground. Once picked, the buried treasure makes a quick exit from the roots of the forest to than hands of sellers, who, in the past 25 years, have witnessed a 30 percent reduction in production.

Shelf life for a typical freshly-harvested truffle is a week at most, experts say, and the United States represents the largest market for the mushroom. Many white truffles are transported by express airfare to American soil within 24 hours.

YouHelp recently added a Crowdfunding for Biodiversity category to the 100 + website. According to Thomas Lovejoy, the Godfather of Biodiversity, "Natural species are the library from which genetic engineers can work. Genetic engineers don't make new genes, they rearrange existing ones." when you start a biodiversity crowdfunding campaign, you can get people to support the protection and conservation of our ecosystems and contribute to ecological health projects in plant, marine and wildlife biodiversity., is a free fundraising website that offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to connect their fundraising campaign to the public. The process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, and compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, and and the campaign is promoted properly, will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer for


Crowdfunding Puts British Women’s Bobsled Team on Track to Winter Olympics

Their dream to compete in the Winter Olympics had seemingly come to a screeching halt back in September. Mica McNeill and Mica Moore, who make up Great Britain’s top female bobsled team, had just been told that the sport’s governing body had only enough money to send a men’s contingent to the 2018 Games, which begin this week in Pyeongchang.

But, with the same tenacity and resilience suited for driving a sled down a hairpin slope at 80 mph, the pair decided to change course by starting a crowdfunding campaign, to get the money they needed to compete in South Korea.

Their last resort effort to reach out to the public for help, returned an incredible response in just five days. As she recalls how crowdfunding raised £40,000 – well above the plea — to cover her team’s basic operating costs, McNeill’s face lights up. A majority of the crowdfunding, she said, is made up of small donations from more than 700 contributors.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding website, said that when athletes and teams do not have enough support from governing bodies, crowdfunding can fill gaps to provide for training, equipment and travel costs. Around $1 million went from crowdfunding sites to athletes from across the globe who requested donations to help them compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Now, McNeill and her partner – “Powered by the People” crowdfunding campaign — want to turn their short-lived devastation into an Olympic medal in Pyeongchang. McNeill, who had purchased her own sled to compete, has already won the 2017 world junior championship and a silver medal at the first youth winter games in 2002.

The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association had initially chosen not to fund McNeill and Moore in the eight World Cup events that serve to rank teams for the 2018 Winter Games; yet, support three men’s teams because the federation was “focusing resources on winning medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

But, aided by the public donations, McNeill and Moore team finished fifth at the World Cup, in November, in Canada, the best result for British women in more than eight years. Their next competition is far more daunting. Since women’s bobsled was added to the Winter Olympics in in Salt Lake City, in 2002, no British team has ever won a medal in the event.

About the Author: Staff Writer at


Forget about Aliens: Crowdfunding Campaign Sheds New Light on Mysterious Star

An astronomer is crediting a crowdfunding campaign for helping her move one step closer to solving the strange light emanating from a mysterious star that is larger than the sun and situated more than 1,000 light-years from earth.

About 1,700 “citizen scientists” were so compelled by the mystery that they donated $107,421 to the crowdfunding campaign, which Louisiana State University physics professor Tabetha Boyajian started in 2016 to pay for dedicated time on ground-based telescopes that were employed to observe KIC 8462852, or “Tabby’s Star.”

Thanks to the crowdfunding campaign, Boyajian – the star’s namesake — and a team of researchers debunked a theory that the weird blinking was really an alien megastructure orbiting the earth. Data collected, which Boyajian had published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, suggests instead that dust is the likely reason “Tabby’s Star” appears to dim for days or weeks before brightening again.

Without quick access to a government observatory or a large source of funding for private observations, Boyajian and her team turned to amateur astronomers and crowdfunding for as little as a few dollars at a time. Boyajian said she is humbled by the outpouring of donors to the crowdfunding campaign.

Tabby’s Star proves that crowdfunding can be a tool for not only solving problems in space but addressing dwindling funding resources for astronomy projects, said Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding website

Boyajian and colleagues collected the data in partnership with the Las Cumbres Observatory, a network of robotic telescopes around the globe. The observatory monitored the star 24/7, providing all the information needed to catch the star’s fleeting dips and trigger follow-up observations.

Supporters who donated to the crowdfunding campaign voted to name the dipping episodes Elise, Celeste, Scara Brae and Angkor. The last two are named after ancient lost cities.

Tabby’s Star is about 50 percent larger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the sun. While the latest research has narrowed explanations for the blinking and ruled out alien activity, researchers still haven’t figured out where the dust is coming from.

About the Author: Staff Writer for


Crowdfunding Delivers Help for Minnesota ‘Sandwich Man’ Who Helps Homeless

The retired Minnesota teacher who spends 365 nights each year rolling a grocery cart up and down the streets of Minneapolis handing out sandwiches to the homeless is now getting a little help himself.

Allan Law – affectionately known as the “sandwich man” around the Twin Cities – doesn’t know much about crowdfunding platforms, but he is pleasantly surprised to learn that a crowdfunding campaign has already raised more than $50,000 to help him deliver the sandwiches, coats, blankets and bus tokens he hands out to the homeless each day.

Teri Bennett heard about the sandwiches a few years back and began volunteering with Law. She soon realized the “sandwich man” needed help as well, and decided to start a crowdfunding campaign in the hope that enough money could be raised to purchase warehouse space and make her hero’s calling more convenient.

Right now, Law’s apartment, which has 20 freezers to store the hundreds of thousands of sandwiches made by church, business and civic groups that he hands out each year, doubles as ground zero for his nonprofit, Minneapolis Recreation Development Inc.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform, said crowdfunding campaigns make giving to nonprofits or volunteers who assist the homeless secure and transparent.

“If you are wondering how to help the homeless, crowdfunding can help,” she said. “Crowdfunding has become a valued resource for nonprofits because it is quick, easy and effective.”

On any given night, there are more than half a million Americans who are homeless. Many are veterans or victims of domestic violence, and many are suffering from chronic mental illnesses.

Hikind said crowdfunding campaigns can be built around community service initiatives directed to combat homelessness much like the nonprofit Law began years ago when Allan was still teaching in Minnesota. When he first started, Law distributed unsold bakery goods and sandwiches from stores. Those efforts grew to encompass donations from schools, companies, churches and community groups. He handed out 800,000 sandwiches last year, along with warm clothing, blankets and other items

Now 16 years into retirement, Law delivers sandwiches from the back of his van between 9 p.m. and 10 a.m., targeting times when people on the street are most vulnerable. He sleeps only a few hours behind the steering wheel each night. His two vacation days are Thanksgiving and Christmas. He’s twice been diagnosed with cancer, and he continued distributing sandwiches at night while undergoing radiation during the day.

Aside from his apartment, Law rents storage at several facilities. He said community groups are constantly feeding him donations including a recent delivery of 140 coats from Delano and hundreds more on the way from Hudson and River Falls. Southwest High School students recently made 2,000 sandwiches, he said, and Brave New Workshop holds a monthly sandwich-making event.

If the crowdfunding campaign raises enough money, Law hopes to get a larger van so that he can help more people.

About the Author: Staff Writer for


Crowdfunding is Purr-fect Launching Pad for Flushable Cat Litter Box

Washing, scooping and tracking litter across the floor – the pet peeve of owners who love their cats, but hate the messy cleaning routine each day.

That’s what spurred a team of engineers to devise an automatic litter box that makes every day living for pet owners more efficient and comfortable. The idea of a flushable toilet for cats may seem ridiculous, but the fancy pet technology — dubbed Catolet — is currently crowdfunded at a price of $159.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform UHelp, says there is no shortage of entrepreneurs who are banking on crowdfunding campaigns on the internet to launch their new products.

“Crowdfunding is supporting inventions by securing capital beyond traditional means,” said Hikind. “The most effective campaigns will not only gauge the market for appeal, but actually build momentum behind an idea and connect backers directly to the new product.”

Catolet has done just that. Almost $61,000 has been pledged through the crowdfunding campaign and the new product's designers say they have amassed 100 percent of their required goal. The smart litter box automatically senses when a cat or small dog has finished its business and activates a self-cleaning conveyor belt that flushes away the waste. Like a human toilet, Catolet is connected to the local water supply and flushes into the sewage system

On UHelp when you have a new product design you can incorporate the first run of the new model into your Thank You Rewards.  Try to relate the perks to the item at hand, because they should match well to the interests of your target audience, that is most likely to contribute.

In this case, for example you might offer unique tee shirts or other items for animal lovers for lower price perks.  .

Every day after your campaign goes live on UHelp, campaign organizers and campaign team members receive a marketing tip – Day 3 is entitled, "Create Thank You Rewards (Perks for Contributions)" . Thank You Rewards are a great marketing strategy and an optional part of any campaign.

The UHelp system allows for up to five Thank You Rewards (Perks) for different donation amounts. Perk titles should be clever and clear. Be sure you can fulfill perks by calculating all costs to your campaign including shipping. Upload an image of the reward. Use words like “only 25 available” or “for the first 100 contributors” in your description. Connect your tangible and intangible perks to the purpose of the campaign.

For entrepreneurs, crowdfunding is another way of funding your ability to produce and market a new invention.  It is not a loan and does not have to be paid back. Crowdfunding is when a crowd of people believe in your ability to produce a well needed project and are willing to contribute their dollars to your campaign.  Why UHelp, above the other platforms? because you get to keep all the money you raise (no platform fee), with immediate access to your funds.


About the Author: Staff Writer for


Crowdfunding for Castles: Strangers Rally to Save 13th-Century French Chateau

A group of strangers have banded together to keep a fairy tale alive.

That’s the idea behind a crowdfunding campaign to preserve the Chateau de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a 13th-century castle that looks as if it was taken out of a Disney movie.

Rather than see developers destroy the building, backers have raised more than $1.3 million to save the historic home — complete with turrets, towers and a sizeable moat – located roughly 200 miles southwest of Paris in Les Trois Moutiers.

As little as $60 will entitle contributors to a share in the company that owns Chateau de la Mothe-Chandeniers. So far, more than 13,000 donors from at least 100 nationalities have become part owners, which offers them a say in the chateau’s development and the chance to be among its first visitors.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free cowdfunding platform, said nonprofit organizations have only begun to scratch the surface to crowdfund historic projects centered on restoration and renovation

“This crowdfunding project demonstrates the power of the internet to rally many people to unite behind a good cause,” she said. 

The oldest sections of the chateau were built in the 1200s. Since then, the building has survived two English occupations during the Middle Ages as well as an upheaval amid the French Revolution.

Major restorations, in 1809 and 1870, helped incorporate the original building into a more Romantic style home. The structure was already in a state of disrepair when a math teacher acquired the building in 1981. The owner did his best to preserve the site, but not enough to prevent nature from sprouting greenery from windows and rooftops.

Organizers of the crowdfunding campaign say another €500,000 is needed for essential work to make the building safe. The goal is to reach 50,000 visitors by 2021 and 70,000 by 2022. The chateau will also host exhibitions and historical re-enactments and seek extra funds by renting out the property to film and production companies.

Do you have a historic preservation project? How about using Uhelp, the free crowdfunding platform.

About the Author: Staff Writer for