Members of the Greek Life community are certainly some of the most engaged and enthusiastic individuals on a college campus. During these years, bonds are formed, memories created, traditions strengthened—and as lifetime members, this continues on long past graduation.
But for advancement professionals, how can this passionate constituency be motivated to make a gift back to the institution that made the experience possible?
At Duquesne University, we made it happen with the Greek Life Crowdfunding Challenge — 17 crowdfunding campaigns, run simultaneously, that resulted in $21,375 raised from 498 gifts.
The donations will directly benefit our Greek students in such ways as: help pay dues for students in need of financial assistance; send students to national conferences; provide upgrades to Greek living suites; defray the costs of special events; bring guest speakers to campus.
Here are five key factors that made it a success . . .
- Crowdfunding Model
We found the crowdfunding model to be the perfect giving platform for the Greek Life community. The 30-day campaigns not only created a sense of urgency to make a gift, but we found that the giving momentum carried throughout the campaign as each organization tried to reach and exceed their $1,000 goal. Running the campaigns simultaneously on one main page helped amplify our overall marketing efforts.
Social sharing buttons and online Donor Walls influenced peer-to-peer giving.
While we thought most donations would come from alumni, in true crowdfunding fashion, the giving energy spread to Greek advisors, parents, faculty, staff and even current students.
Another major perk was that by giving each Greek organization their own crowdfunding page they had the opportunity to tell their stories and boast about their recent accomplishments both on campus and in the community. A much-needed spotlight that deserved to be shined on our Greek students.
- Strong Partnership with the Office of Greek Life
Our Office of Greek Life was a tremendous partner throughout the entire initiative and the primary reason why this worked. From our initial pitch of the idea in August to our wrap-up meeting in April, we worked together every step of the way to make sure the effort was a success for our students.
The office could easily connect us with each of the organizations and their student leaders so that we could work directly with them on their crowdfunding campaign content and strategies.
- Student Ownership
We wanted students to be the driving force behind this effort and they rose to the occasion.
It started with a presentation at a Greek Life President’s meeting to let the key student leaders know our vision and get buy-in. From there the same presentation was delivered to all Greek Life alumni and social media chairs. Finally, individual meetings were held with representatives from each organization to discuss the crowdfunding process, review best practices for content and establish deadlines.
Once launched, we stayed in regular contact with the students to provide them with crowdfunding guidance throughout the campaign and send out regular reminders about how to make it a success.
- Point-Incentive Competition
The campaigns kicked-off so that they ended on the last day of our Greek Week. Final crowdfunding totals were announced on the stage at our Greek Sing competition. The tie-in to Greek Week allowed us to award points to any organization that reached their goal and additional points to the sororities and fraternities that raised the most amount of donations.
This gave extra motivation to both our student ambassadors and to donors who wanted to help their Greek organization win Greek Week.
- Philanthropy Education
Overall, the entire process was used as a lesson in philanthropy education for our students. It was always stressed in group presentations and in the one-on-one meetings about the importance of giving. As donations started to come in from alumni and friends from across the country, the students saw first-hand how people extend their generosity back to their alma mater. We will continue to work with these students to make sure they stay in touch with their donors and notify them about how the donations are spent.
In closing, if the giving of your Greek Life community needs a spark, a crowdfunding competition should be added to your fundraising toolbox to help ignite those donors and dollars.
David Jakielo is an Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Duquesne University. Read his previous HigherEdLive.com articles, “5 Strategies to Improve Your Crowdfunding Efforts” and “5 Things I Learned from My First Day of Giving”.