Giving Day Challenges 2017: Five Stand-Out Ideas

Amanda Kohn by on May 24, 2017

Giving day season is in full swing for colleges and universities, with more than 15 schools in the Alumni Monitor coverage group hosting 24-hour fundraisers between February and March. After reviewing all giving day challenges within the Alumni Monitor coverage group, five campaign ideas stand out for engagement and creativity:

1) Boston University’s Babies and Pet Photos Contest

BU encouraged alums to spotlight their child or pet in university gear in their giving day social media posts. The university then selected its favorite photo hashtagged with #BUGivingDay and donated $1,000 to the winner’s chosen fund, encouraging participant creativity in their advocating for their school. Not only did BU’s challenge encourage participant creativity as they promoted their alma mater to their followers, but it also established the mindset that giving back to the university is an event for the whole family, including both former and future students..

Example BU Babies and Pets Challenge Posts


2) Cornell’s Pi Day Challenges

In light of its March 14 giving day date, Cornell crafted three Pi Day challenges relating to the famous 3.14 number. Between 7 and 9 a.m., the college with the most gifts ending in 3.14 (e.g., $23.14 and $103.14) won bonus money, and the school awarded $1,000 in bonus money to the causes chosen by the 314th and 3,141th donors in the drive. By tying its giving day to an established celebration, Cornell harnessed existing excitement for Pi to expedite its own efforts.

3) Maryland’s Best Facebook Comment Contest

From 9 to 10 a.m. on March 8, Maryland challenged Facebook users to comment on why they support the university with the hashtag #GivingDayUMD. At the end of the hour, the winning post earned a $250 bonus donation to the poster’s program of choice. While many schools encourage users to share a post or change their profile picture to recognize a giving day, the University of Maryland’s challenge stands out by pushing supporters to interact not only with the school but also with each other.

Sample Facebook Comment Post

4) Northeastern’s Hidden Husky Challenge

In a move that blended a social media challenge with campus engagement, Northeastern University asked current students to find huskies hidden around campus and post a picture of themselves and the stuffed animals with the hashtag #NUGivingDay for the chance to earn $500 toward a Northeastern cause of their choice. Though 10 huskies were hidden, only five posts were selected as winners. Not only did this campaign get current students, not solely alums, involved in giving back to the school, but it also created buzz around showcasing school pride online.

Example Hidden Husky Challenge Posts

5) OSU’s Buckeye Couples Gift Match Challenge

As part of its inaugural #BuckeyeLove giving day on February 14, the school issued a one-hour Buckeye Couples Gift Match to celebrate meeting a spouse or partner at Ohio State. OSUAA President and CEO Jim Smith and his wife Polly, who met at OSU, matched any Buckeye couple’s gift to the fund of their choice. This innovative gift match challenge encouraged joint giving, which no other schools in our review did during their giving day challenges.

To learn more about giving day best practices, check out our slide deck offering recommendations that any higher education institution can implement to run an engaging and successful fundraiser.

About The Author

Amanda Kohn

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