Last week, the Alumni Office launched its “Giving Week” campaign in an attempt to have 1,874 donations in a single week, a record-breaking number in the college’s history.
After calculating the numbers on Wednesday, Dec. 10, the Office of Alumni Giving determined that 1,881 alumni, parents, faculty/staff, trustees, students and friends donated to #feedthetiger, raising nearly $450,000 for Colorado College.
“Giving Week is meant to not only acquire but inspire donors and create a sense of community,” said Kerry Steere, Director of Annual Giving. “By giving, alumni and students are part of something larger than themselves.”
“It’s also a pride campaign,” said Steere. “Colorado College was founded in 1874, and that donation number allows people to have an affinity towards the school and share in that affinity with others.”
Based on previous years’ data, 1,874 also provided the Alumni Office with an impressive stretch goal.
“We weren’t sure if it was going to happen, which is what makes the week so exciting,” said Steere.
The commercial holidays that follow Thanksgiving—such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday— serve to celebrate consumerism in American culture.
The recent creation of Giving Tuesday counteracts such commercialism and gives non-profit organizations the opportunity to join together and commend a national giving holiday.
Giving Tuesday provided the initial impetus and natural timeline for “Giving Week” to fall on the first week in December.
This campaign contained many aspects that appealed to young alumni.
The majority of the campaign worked via email and social media; a microsite was created through which alumni and students could track progress day by day; and the hashtag #feedthetiger allowed participants to take ownership and explain why supporting CC is important to them.
“The hashtag on the communications gave the campaign a grassroots feel,” said Steere.
Steere has been watching the #feedthetiger tweets all week.
“One tweet described the CC experience as an ‘open sea of opportunity,’” said Steere. “It was incredibly poetic and passionate.”
Another tweet lauded “Giving Week” as the most effective giving campaign they had ever seen. “I give in!” the tweet read, “I have to be a part of it.”
The first “Giving Week” teaser e-mail made its way to alumni on November 19th, but the campaign had already been in the works for several months prior. The Annual Giving Office worked on a compressed but efficient timeline, brainstorming and planning through the fall and then finally letting the campaign loose on Monday and “hop[ing] for the best,” according to Steere.
Cyber Monday is a challenging day to send out emails, considering the hundreds of emails circulating from commercial interests. Yet, alumni response on both Monday and Tuesday was “strong,” according to Steere, and “even better than [she] could have imagined” once the halfway point was reached Thursday morning.
“There were a flood of gifts at that tipping point,” said Steere. “It’s impressive that so many people wanted a part.”
The money from the “Giving Week” campaign flows into “unrestricted fund usage.”
As opposed to money dedicated to a named scholarship, these funds defer program costs for students and assist with financial aid.
“Unrestricted funds go where the students need them most,” said Steere. “The gifts made to this campaign will be seen all over our campus in a variety of crucial areas.
“Both our alumni and our students are brilliant and passionate, and it’s important to emphasize the interconnection between alumni and students,” said Steere.
The metaphor “feed the tiger” suggests the direct and impactful linkage between a gift made and what it means to the students and the college. The “Giving Week” campaign is not directed, however, solely towards alumni.
The campaign had a significant campus presence, from table tents in Rastall to faculty members posting about the campaign on LinkedIn. Even a few CC seniors gave individual gifts.
Current faculty and students, in addition to alumni, can have a significant impact on the college through their contributions.
The gift collectors have been working “like crazy” as donations poured in during the campaign’s final hours. The last twelve hours of “Giving Week” may have been a record day for donations for the college.
“This sort of giving usually only happens at the end of the calendar year,” said Steere. “We might have knocked that record out of the park.”
Success would be the reaching of 1,874 donors, but there exist “more than one way to win,” said Steere. The desire to be part of a prideful and passionate community and impact current students in that community in bountiful ways is “unquantifiable.”