Game Changers Campaign Shatters Fundraising Efforts in Its First Public Year

Amanda Kohn by on Oct 14, 2015

Davidson College launched a comprehensive campaign on November 15, 2014 that is centered on “game changers” – students, alumni, faculty and staff that push the limit and transform their community both domestically and internationally. In November, Davidson unveiled its Game Changers: Inspiring Leaders to Transform the World campaign, which aims to raise $425 million by 2019. The campaign is designed to increase scholarship support for undergraduates, improve academic and athletic experiences and create programs to help transform students into leaders that can change the world.

The sitelet that Davidson designed specifically for the campaign utilizes best practices in contemporary web design, including responsive features that automatically update for different devices, as well as a color scheme in line with the college’s red and black branding. Davidson successfully incorporates the Game Changers theme as well, as an entire section highlights the college’s existing alumni game changers in a range of professional fields (e.g., art, science and public service).


Game Changers Microsite (Truncated)

The most notable aspect of the campaign so far is Davidson’s new record-breaking totals within the first year of the public phase. The college raised half of its campaign total during the quiet phase, which occurred from July 2010 to the launch of the public phase in November 2014. With the four-year quiet phase, the Game Changers campaign had a significant head start to reaching its $425 million goal. The 2015 fiscal year proved to be an even greater success:

  • Alumni, parents and friends contributed over $63.8 million in gifts and commitments
  • The Fund for Davidson contributed $17.7 million in gifts and commitments
  • The Fund for Davidson is the college’s annual fund; any money donated toward the Fund for Davidson is counted as part of the campaign total
  • Includes the #AllinforDavidson Giving Day on May 20, 2015, which alone raised over $708,000
  • More than 12,000 donors contributed to the campaign
  • More than $17.4 million was raised in planned gifts
  • Alumni participation reached 59.5%
  • Senior Class of 2015 participation reached 91%


Campaign Breakdown by Initiative

One noteworthy point to consider is the alumni participation rate. Davidson College is nationally recognized as having a strong alumni network with an annual donation participation rate of almost 60%. It’s natural to assume that the college’s social media accounts play an integral role in obtaining such a large percentage, especially among young alumni; however, after analyzing the college’s usage of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the past nine months, we found few posts relating to the Game Changers campaign (or giving in general). Except for the campaign launch party in November, and Davidson’s #AllinforDavidson Giving Day campaign in May, the majority of social network posts do not even mention the comprehensive campaign. Davidson’s high alumni participation rate could be linked to their email communications and phone-a-thons.

It will be interesting to see whether Davidson increases its social media usage as the campaign progresses, or if that would not be necessary. The campaign has already raised over 60% of its goal ($259 million) and still has a solid four years to go. Moving forward, other universities could consider using the campaign’s quiet phase to increase their own fundraising efforts. Just as Davidson raised over half its campaign total during this period, other colleges could incorporate phone-a-thons, deploy email blasts and target high-net-worth alumni for contributions, rather than relying too heavily on social media outlets.

For more information on Alumni Monitor and our research on alumni outreach and engagement, 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