Fundraising Case Study: One Ball State Raises Over $500,000 Amidst COVID-19 crisis

Brian Gawor

Vice President of Research

April 17, 2020

Chad Warren contributed to this post.

As we navigate uncertain times, a big question has arisen for many higher education fundraisers: What do we do with our spring or summer giving day? About half of higher education giving days are held between February and June, and they’ve really taken off in popularity. Many institutions rely on them for end of the year excitement, and to meet their important donor and dollar goals. In a recent RNL poll, most respondents told us that they have altered their giving day strategy due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to cancel your giving day. A number of recent giving day successes have shown that it is possible to host an engaging, exciting, and even record setting giving day even in this economy and amidst the crisis. RNL’s Chad Warren and I sat down (virtually) with Lola Mauer, Associate Vice President of Strategy and two time alumnae of Ball State University on their record breaking “One Ball State Day” on April 7, which eclipsed over $511,000 from nearly 5,400 donors from all 50 states.

Give a listen to our Fundraising Voices podcast to hear Lola tell us about the day, and the team’s strategy going into the event.

Here are a few great things about One Ball State Day that made it a success on the RNL Giving Day platform.

One Ball State Day set a record for contributions on April 7, 2020.

Widespread community engagement amplifies giving day success

A great thing about One Ball State Day is the incredible number of involved, engaged and passionate ambassadors. From Deans stepping up with challenges to a highly engaged Ball State campus team, this made a big difference. Just one example is this great post by President Mearns about the success of the day.

Student are the focus, and also set a record for giving

In deciding whether to continue with the giving day, Ball State recognized that “The students need us now more than ever,” says Mauer. Messaging about the impact to students was key. And even though student giving wasn’t pushed heavily, the student body stepped up and set a record of over 700 gifts. The team reached out over social media to mention the impact of Ball State frontline caregivers, students in need, and donors responded.

Students challenged each other in a one hour competition and set a record.

There was also a vigorous competition for student giving, which was won by the student media group.

The Ball State team brings it all together for a record-setting event

“We had triple the employee ambassadors we had in 2019. So many of the faculty and staff rallied behind the Ball State community. I knew the community would come together, because that’s what Ball State is,” Mauer told us. Even while separated physically, the campus pulled together for the effort. This is a crucial part of giving day success.

“We know it takes an army to execute a day a day of giving even in the best of times,” says Chad Warren, Vice President and senior consultant at RNL. “Kudos to the Ball State team for pivoting and pulling off what was an incredible, impactful and community-uniting day.”

It also takes technology, from the ability to spotlight challenges and matches, a live map of where gifts have come from, and ambassador tracking and engagement. We’re proud that this successful giving day, hosted on the RNL Giving Day platform, powered by ScaleFunder. Ball State’s passionate and loyal donors are impressive. So is the effort of the giving team to engage the full community during this challenging time, and even though they couldn’t be in the same place, provide an opportunity for everyone to come together to support students, faculty and the programs they love at Ball State.

Want to apply these strategies to your giving day? Wondering the best path for your planned 2020 giving day? Contact us today and we’ll share what we’re hearing from your peers and strategies that have worked with the hundreds of giving days we’ve assisted.

About the Author

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 20 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

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