The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy was looking for new fundraising methods to increase student and alumni engagement.
They decided to explore the idea of conducting an online fundraising campaign to see how their alumni would respond. They ran their first Giving Day in 2017 and were delighted with the results.
We caught up with Greer Griffith, Assistant Director of Annual Giving, to find out about their experience, in particular:
The challenges they faced while running the Giving Day
The methods they used to encourage participation during the day
The impact of gamification and donor challenges on their campaign
The results from the Giving Day and how it affected participation
Assistant Director of Annual Giving
What were the fundraising challenges you faced as a School?
In 2016 the School of Pharmacy celebrated our 175th anniversary. We planned to focus our Giving Day on celebrating the School’s accomplishments over the past 175 years.
We have never conducted an online fundraising campaign and have not had a robust social media presence, so we were faced with the challenge of how best to engage our alumni prior to the event. We were also apprehensive about the participation and response of our alumni to this campaign. Furthermore, all of our alumni hold an associate's or bachelor's degree from a college or university putting us in competition with the fundraising efforts of their undergraduate institutions.
Being a graduate institution without any sports teams and limited organizations due to our small size we struggled to identify tangible giving incentives for our alumni.
How did you deal with these challenges?
Because we had never conducted a giving campaign that has been solely based online, the School’s Office of Communications and Marketing and the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs knew that it would be difficult to reach 175 donors in one day.
In order to achieve our goal, we knew that we needed a campaign that would leverage the power of social media. Working with Hubbub, we developed an online campaign platform that allowed us to:
sign up social media ambassadors (alumni, faculty, staff and students) to share our messages, increasing both the reach of the event and the number of people able to participate.
use donor challenges designed to increase the impact of donations and motivate different segments of alumni to give.
How did you use social media ambassadors?
A crucial component of the success of our Giving Day was the use of social media ambassadors who volunteered their time to share our messages on Facebook and Twitter.
Through the Giving Day website, we were able to push out message updates for the ambassadors to share with their followers. The Giving Day website automatically tracked clicks and gifts generated from the ambassador posts, and the School rewarded the most dynamic ambassadors with a prize.
One ambassador generated 97 clicks from the messages he shared on social media, and raised an additional $2,391.
How did you use donor challenges?
Donor challenges were one of the main reasons that our Giving Day was successful. 24 hours is a long time to keep people engaged, so by conducting challenges we were able to keep the momentum going throughout the day. We designed several challenges to increase the impact of the donations received and motivate different segments of alumni to give.
Our Alumni Association president offered to donate $1,000 to the School if 25 alumni from the Classes of 2006 to 2016 made gifts. And an associate dean pledged $1,000 to be added to a randomly selected donation made between 7 and 9 pm - this generated 54 donations, making it our most successful time slot!
How did the Giving Day improve online engagement
Thanks to the campaign we:
engaged 689 Facebook users (1,150% increase compared to normal)
made over 25,660 impressions on Facebook (1,700% increase)
made over 6,500 impressions on Twitter (730% increase)
received over 2,200 video views on Facebook
achieved over 1,950 of our emails opened (nearly 20% of the total sent)
Overall, this was a fantastic result in terms of getting our alumni interested and involved.
What were the results of your Giving Day?
We surpassed our goal of 175 donors in the 24-hour period: more than 180 donors made gifts to the School on the designated day, raising more than $30,000.
In addition to the overall goal, all of our challenge goals were met. The School received donations from 39 young alumni from the Classes of 2006 to 2016, exceeding the original goal of 25 young donors.
By promoting the online Giving Day, the School was able to engage faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends and get them to invest in the future of the School.