The Final Countdown to June 30: A Case Study of William and Mary’s 31% Undergraduate Alumni Participation Challenge

Amanda Kohn by on Sep 12, 2017

Toward the end of fiscal year 2017, colleges and universities within the Alumni Monitor coverage group promoted giving challenges, gift giveaways and crowdfunding projects to garner additional support before the June 30th giving deadline. William and Mary launched an undergraduate alumni participation challenge to help increase the participation rate to 31% from last year’s 28.7%. Though the university fell short, reaching a participation rate of 29.9% (19,273 alumni), it still ranks first in alumni giving among nationally ranked public universities. William and Mary stands out for its creative outreach methods that include a giving challenge, imaginative emails, social media posts and website promotions.

First, William and Mary launched a Hark the Vote giving challenge that encouraged donors to cast their vote for one of 16 whimsical student groups (e.g., graduation beach ball throwers or bell ringers) with their contribution. Hark the Vote was a creative challenge that encouraged donors to reminisce about their college experience and showcase Tribe pride through an online poll coinciding with the 31% alumni participation rate goal. The university promoted its challenge with an email and social media posts on the alumni association’s Facebook and Twitter pages, which all direct users to the Hark the Vote microsite. The microsite houses 16 student group descriptions, with links, a promotional video, a progress meter and a leaderboard presenting the top voted groups. Even though supporters did not meet the donor goal by June 25, Hark the Vote helped jump start the university’s push for reaching its 31% alumni participation goal.

Hark the Vote Microsite (Truncated)

Example Hark the Vote Facebook Post

In addition to standard emails promoting the June 30th deadline, the university sent three creative emails that comedically compared the university’s 31% alumni participation goal to only completing 31% of William and Mary landmarks, finishing 31% of popular culture books and enjoying 31% of daily situations (e.g. morning caffeine). The emails cleverly drive home the importance of reaching 31% alumni participation to the university, its programs and students. William and Mary displayed the same comparisons on social media, further encouraging donors to become part of the challenge. Further, the emails feature alumni marketing best practices such as a Give Now call-to-action link, professional graphics and limited scrolling.

Example William and Mary Email

Example Facebook Post

William and Mary promoted its alumni participation rate challenge through multiple channels, helping to create a consistent advertising platform to garner last-minute donations for the fiscal year. Other schools should consider employing William and Mary’s creative outreach methods like the emails and giving challenge to draw supporters’ attention to the year-end fundraising push. Aligning campaign challenges, website promotions, emails and social media posts with the same theme can help create memorable outreach efforts.

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About The Author

Amanda Kohn

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