By Mujie Cui
In one 24-hour period, #ADay4U reached a total of 1,337 donors, and challengers made gifts totaling $962,000.
Thousands of #ADay4U promotion stickers labeled, “Want a new Union key chain? Limit first 100 students on 4/9/14,” were tagged on students’ mailboxes in Reamer Campus Center one week before April 9.
It was a challenge from the Board of Trustees. The original goal was to secure 409 donors, and attract 49 new donors and 49 recurring gifts over the course of one 24-hour period.
If the fund-raising campaign hits these goals, the Board of Trustees would give $409,000 to Union’s Annual Fund.
“The percentage of alumni who give to Union’s Annual Fund each year has actually declined to about 35 percent, where it has been hovering for the past few years,” stated Vice President of College Relations Terri Cerveny and Assistant Director of Annual Giving Alex Simon.
Other Liberal Arts Colleges have, overall, above 50 percent annual giving rates. This year, Williams College has reached an overall participation rate of 60.8 percent, which is almost twice Union’s annual alumni donation rate.
Among many other things, the Annual Fund provides financial aid, which allows many students access to a Union education regardless of their ability to pay.
The Annual Fund aids in Union’s continued success and reinforces values of appreciation and giving back, which will follow Union students after they step into society.
The alumni giving rate, determined by the Council for Aid to Education, is an important factor that affects Union’s ranking in the U.S. News and World Report. “For every 216 new donors to Union, we add one percentage point,” Cerveny said on the phone during a conversation last week.
During #ADay4U, after the first goal of 409 donations was achieved, two Union alumni stepped forward with generous donations of $100,000 each, to challenge the Union community to continue the momentum and increase giving by another 216 donors.
When that was reached, the next challenge was to reach a total of 1,000 donors in one day. The challenge was successfully completed with help from volunteers, who were Union Annual Fund’s social media ambassadors, as they pushed their efforts and expanded connections.
In addition to phone, direct mail, e-mail and local events in Boston, Washington, D.C., and the Capital Region, one promising promotion strategy that Union Annual Fund applied is promotion through social networking with the hashtag #ADay4U.
“We wanted to reach as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time, and to capture the attention of our recent graduates,” said Cerveny.
“So social media was a perfect answer. Thanks to the Frozen Four and the success of the Union Hockey team in NCAA, Union spirit and pride also added to #ADay4U’s success,” Cerveny continued.
The Annual Fund Office’s effort is already making a difference for Union students’ everyday lives. According to the Union Alumni Annual Fund Office’s website, $25 can replace 12 beakers for a chemistry lab, $500 can purchase drawing and painting supplies for art students and $750 can cover costs for a student to travel within the United States for senior thesis research.
While Union seeks to improve its teaching and research, the costs associated with higher education are continually rising.
Thus, the Annual Fund Office will continue fund-raising events like #ADay4U. The office has discussed “a plan for Founder’s Day next year.” A statement from the office said that they “plan to build on our success of and continue to get all members of our community involved.”
With the terrific success of #ADay4U, the Annual Fund Office stated, “It’s really remarkable what can happen when we all come together to support Union. Go U!”