There’s nothing like the feeling after an intense fundraising campaign ends with all the goals met. And of course, it’s great when your organization blows past its goals. But how about when you beat your goals by more than 3,800 percent?
That was the glorious experience Arizona State University development pros enjoyed after ASU recorded an awe-inspiring $3,059,265 during the second annual, two-day, Mark It Day online fundraising campaign. That $3 million haul vastly exceeded the modest goal they had set of $76,611. (ASU had raised roughly $170,000 during the first Mark It Day one year earlier)
So… HOW?!?! Well, to begin with, ASU had solid online infrastructure built on the iModules platform. An attractive landing page for the campaign had a nice mix of fundraising asks, updates, and engaging content…
ASU’s Mark It Day started with an attractive, engaging campaign home page.
The campaign page also had clever, interactive content to add to the notion of this campaign being a major event.
Markie – the Mark It Day mascot
Beyond the basics, Arizona State’s annual giving and interactive marketing teams got together to assemble a strategy built around smart, fun, engaging content. The very idea of the campaign is both cute and engaging. Markie – essentially a map pin mascot – encourages ASU alumni to mark their place on the map with a gift. It’s the type of campaign where donors contribute almost involuntarily, because taking part is so much fun thanks to the technology.
Another key to ASU’s success were the efforts at bringing the entire campus community on board with the campaign.
“Mark It Day 2014 had increased partner participation with colleges, programs, faculty, staff, and students all helping spread our message and encouraging people to support ASU,” said Stacy Holmstedt, Senior Director of Internet Marketing.
Holmstedt and fellow campaign planner, Senior Director of Annual Giving Shad Hanselman, worked diligently to get their colleagues on board by providing them with the resources they needed to successfully contribute to the effort.
“We created a lot of custom prepared social media messaging and art for each of the colleges so they could just plug it in and go,” said Holmstedt. “We’ve found that the easier you make it for your colleagues, the higher amount of success you’ll have in getting your message out to a wide audience.”
ASU also didn’t let the enthusiasm from the first Mark It Day in 2013 die after the campaign closed. Instead, they used Markie to keep the idea of philanthropy alive and thriving throughout the year.
“Markie has his own social media presence and thousands of followers, and he kept them engaged throughout the year, not just in the weeks building up to the campaign,” said Holmstedt. “He did some fun things like leading a Fight Song Sing-Along video and constantly posted shout-outs to students who were being philanthropic, even if they weren’t giving directly to ASU. Building a culture of philanthropy has been of great importance here.”
As for advice, Holmstedt and Hanselman say “start planning early” and learn what it is about your audience that will motivate them to give during the campaign.
“Ours like seeing their names appear on a map in real-time; both the individual recognition and the instant gratification are motivational to our audience,” said Holmstedt.
But perhaps most important, don’t go it alone.
“Getting buy-in from the whole university is also key. This can’t just be a foundation effort, it has to be ‘everyone in.'”
Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner where he helps clients produce six- and seven-figure online fundraising campaigns. To contact Justin, click here.