M&C helps KCU raise four times the amount of previous year’s campaign…
Alex Hopkins, Director of Alumni Development, graciously shares how KCU’s partnership with M&C led to great results on their 2021 Day of Giving.
Can you share what the major challenges were with your inaugural Giving Day and what you wanted to change for 2021?
The inaugural Giving Day took place in August 2019, and the second Day of Giving took place in April 2021. Our first Day of Giving presented us with the challenge of making sure that our alumni and donors were aware of what a Day of Giving was and why it was important to give on that specific day.
Our institution decided 2020 was not the right time to continue hosting a Day of Giving, as we were in the middle of an unknown pandemic. The world – and philanthropy – changed a great deal in those 20 months between our inaugural Day of Giving and our second one in 2021. In August 2019, Day of Giving was largely held on KCU’s campus, in-person, with a carnival-like atmosphere in support of Score 1 for Health. In April 2021, the campaign took place virtually with a multi-channel approach that also incorporated Virtual Ambassadors and the kickoff of KCU’s Employee Giving Campaign for spring 2021.
How did working with M&C make a difference?
The KCU Philanthropy & Alumni Relations team needed a really solid framework to get started for Day of Giving 2021. Staff time and resources were limited throughout much of 2020 and into 2021, and M&C was able to provide clear deadlines, messaging and deliverables to help keep the campaign on track.
M&C also met with our team prior to the project kickoff so our team could understand the expectations of what KCU would handle and what M&C would work on. Expectations were clearly set out ahead of time, which made the process much easier for all parties.
What were some of the most helpful suggestions/changes/additions suggested by M&C?
Without a doubt, the multi-channel approach, as well as thinking ahead and planning early for Day of Giving. A Day of Giving is a one-day celebration, but the lead-up messaging really starts weeks in advance, and the related planning should take place at least three to six months in advance. M&C provided a clear timeline with goals, deadlines, and deliverables to make this possible, while also allowing KCU to customize and adapt its approach, as needed.
What were the results of the campaign?
The 2021 Day of Giving ended up raising over $100,000! This includes early gifts in response to the early solicitation letter and emails; sponsorships; phone-a-thon; and employee giving. The original goal was to raise $30,000, and when that was surpassed by late morning on April 5, the team set a stretch goal of $75,000, which was also surpassed. This was more than four times our 2019 fundraising efforts in our inaugural year.
Will you continue to use the plan created in partnership with M&C on future campaigns?
Absolutely. So much success tied to fundraising campaigns comes from planning ahead and adhering to deadlines. M&C provided a clear outline that will never go out of style and will be useful for future campaigns in years to come!
What advice would you give to other schools and universities planning their own Giving Days?
Study what other schools and universities – of all sizes and mission focus areas – have done for their own Giving Days. Ask your peer organizations what they have tried; Giving Days have gained so much popularity in the last five years. Understand that you are not going to be able to do it all right out of the gate with your first Giving Day – it’s an opportunity to try new things, to learn from your mistakes, and to continue to review and refine for future years!
Leadership buy-in is always key – and recruit your Virtual Ambassadors early. Land on a theme or branding that you can continue to reuse each year. Take great notes and debrief immediately after the campaign’s conclusion. Steward your Giving Day donors properly … For example, if they give year after year to your Giving Days, they should receive a special note of gratitude in the mail. And, most importantly, have fun! This Day is your organization’s opportunity to shine and to tell really great stories.