The big day

The world is changing and technology is impacting the best practices for fundraising. Now almost 3 in 4 schools participate in an online time-sensitive giving initiative. “Other donation drive methods such as phonathons, snail mail, and peer to peer fundraising are increasingly more difficult to do successfully,” said Mathew Ohs. These challenges gave Kayleen Berwick, Phonathon Coordinator, and Matthew Ohs, Assistant Director of Annual Giving, the idea to launch The Big Day, which was an online giving campaign that incorporated email, social media, video, and crowdfunding.

The gifts received through this campaign have a huge impact on student’s lives. There are many reasons donors participated in The Big Day. Some of the most common reasons are that alumni want to “give back” to the university for the benefits they received as a student. Another is because they want to “pay it forward” to current students and ensure they are well prepared in their prospective fields. Berwick said, “As an alumna myself, I think giving back is about supporting students in pursuit of education and enhancing the learning opportunities available to them both in- and outside the classroom.”

When asked where the money raised goes Ohs said, “Donations benefitted scholarships, academic departments and programs, student organizations, and our Power of Experience Campaigns: Laird Norton Center for Art and Design, a renovated stadium, and the College of Business Engaged Learning Endowment. These donations directly benefit students, the educational opportunities available at WSU, and the overall university experiences of our students, faculty and staff, and community.”

The Big Day campaign raised nearly $8,000 and engaged with thousands of alumni. “This campaign was successful because we mapped out a long-term strategy and timeline to make our vision become a reality. We incorporated scheduling, media channels, message content, and audience segments into this plan. The success came from sticking to our detailed plan,” said Ohs. “We really appreciate the collaboration that ensued throughout this project. It was amazing to see how many people came together and had a hand in supporting and promoting the campaign and the University with their time, talents, and treasure. We’re thankful for our generous WSU community,” said Berwick.

They are already planning for next year’s Big Day. For the first year, they wanted to keep it simple. In the future they plan to incorporate more incentives to give, matching gifts, and diversity of available funds. Ohs says, “We were happy with the results, although we weren’t sure exactly what the outcome would be. Our team created an effective marketing timeline, campaign branding, and themes. We stuck to the plan and are happy that it all came together.”

Students holding thank you sign

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Nicholle Miller

Nicholle Miller is a Public Relations major with minors in Philosophy and Political Science. She works at the Winona State University Alumni Relations office as an events and social media intern. She will graduate in May, 2019.

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