A Strong Start for A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence Campaign

Amanda Kohn by on Oct 19, 2017

Launched on July 1, 2016, Penn State’s A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence campaign aims to raise $1.6 billion to increase student access and affordability programs (e.g., scholarships); invest in transformative experiences, such as study abroad programs, digital infrastructure and the arts and humanities; and create programs to help transform students into leaders who can change the global economy. Currently in its quiet phase, the five-year campaign has already accomplished the university’s third-best year of fundraising in its history and still has six months before its April 2018 public kickoff, according to a university representative.

The most notable aspect of the campaign so far is its record-breaking totals: within the first year and a half of the quiet phase, A Greater Penn State raised $376 million, or 23% of its campaign total. Other highlights include:

  • Alumni and friends contributed $304.6 million in gifts and commitments
  • Since FY16, an additional 50,000 supporters donated, resulting in 222,448 donors for this fiscal year
  • Alumni participation increased by 5%
  • Producer and director Donald P. Bellisario, class of 1961, donated $30 million to endow the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and establish a state-of-the-art media center
  • The Penn State Alumni Association pledged $1.5 million in student scholarship support

In preparation for the public launch, the university has released a campaign microsite, an aspect its peers traditionally release much closer to the debut. In addition to providing expedited access to campaign details, the new microsite includes responsive features that automatically update for different devices and a color scheme in line with the university’s white and blue branding. Site pages also successfully incorporate progress meters for the overall campaign goal and campaign themes—Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences and Impact the World—which are called out as main navigation tabs as well.

Creative Transformative Experiences Page (Truncated)

While it generally adheres to web design best practices, Penn State should improve its campaign promotion and website accessibility as the microsite is currently only accessible from the Giving to Penn State homepage and select press releases. Even though the campaign has yet to reach its public phase, Penn State should make use of its live campaign site to help harness another year of record-breaking donations. The school should increase visibility by adding promotional sections, banner images or header links on the alumni and university websites as well as promoting the upcoming campaign kickoff through social media posts and alumni emails.

A Greater Penn State Microsite (Truncated)

For more information about Alumni Monitor and its research services, please contact Dana Peterson at dpeterson@corporateinsight.com or visit us at alumnimonitor.corporateinsight.com.

About The Author

Amanda Kohn

Amanda is a Senior Research Associate for Alumni Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more