Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fiscal Year End Trend

As many of you loyal readers know, I have covered blitz campaigns before here, with Florida State University and Skidmore College being pioneers. Yesterday, two more organizations launched successful year end blitz campaigns. A blitz campaign is about the closest thing I've ever seen to social media fundraising done right. The idea is that you have a donor put up a challenge grant for a certain number of donors or an amount of money, number of donors works much better in my opinion, within a short amount of time, ideally 24 hours. Last year Columbia University raised $7M in one day. Wow.


Yesterday one of the best blitz campaigns I have seen done yet occurred. Wake Forest University had a #Wake500 campaign, a combined goal of 500 donors and $100,000 dollars and they would score a huge match gift.
The launch of the blitz was by far and above one of the best things I have ever seen. This video was created in house by their communications department in tandem with their annual fund folks and WOW at the brilliance.
Simple, powerful, humorous, and effective, instead of being stuffy they knew their audience and took a calculated risk by being creative. Who doesn't want to slap the IRS' hand?  By midday they already had over 500 gifts.

So another generous alum stepped up and added more money to the pot if they could reach 1000 donors. Staff members, even those without direct fundraising duties sent texts, social media posts, calls and an all out email blitz. Rumor has it that their AVP of special events was texting and face booking fellow alumni at 10pm! Well, hard work reaps amazing rewards! At midnight Wake Forest had almost tripled their goal! Over 1800 donors and over $380,000 later the staff sent out congratulatory emails, tweets and web posts. An amazing feat.
 I hope they all get a day off or a margarita party after the Herculean effort and success. I have sent their team some questions and will post answers later today for more information. If you have questions for the team, post them in comments and I'll send them along as well!


Hollins University is also launching a unique blitzcampaign called #Hollinsrocks and in the next ten days are looking for $100,000 in gifts.
Theirs is playful, creative and a completely new effort for them. They have some great interactive features, like a "Hollins Rock" coloring Instagram incorporation and a "Donor of the Day" feature. Brilliant and sure to bring in a new population of donors who like the inventive and the sense of urgency of a blitz campaign. Here is a link to their page and creative communications. Well done.


Thinking of launching your own blitz campaign, here are some tricks of the trade:

1. All hands on deck for this effort, not just the annual fund...that means everyone for the whole time
2. Be edgy, creative, fun, now is the time to bring your ideas from left field and embrace your quirk
3. Set a realistic goal and have a great match behind it
4. You need a hook or an angle to get them engaged... why now? Why us? What does the money go for?

5. If you're directing all of these people to give online, you better have a great giving website, need help? Attend my webinar here in July! Make sure your gift processing team is involved from the beginning and you give them extra love and energy drinks or free lunch to keep them going...

6. You should have a good donor relations plan in place for these donors, especially for those who have never given to you before. Need an annual giving donor relations boost, attend this webinar here
7. Report frequently via web and social media your progress
8. If you meet and or exceed your goal keep going then celebrate the accomplishment
9. Motivate your donors and volunteers with recognition and promotion throughout the day
10. Don't be afraid to share with non alumni or supporters! I'm not an alum of Hollins or Wake Forest, but by writing about their blitz campaigns they are reaching my 7000 person weekly audience and all of the people in my network


A final thought on blitz campaigns, they're wonderful and effective, but don't let someone get carried away and think you will run one of these monthly or more than once a year even. The novelty will wear off and people will become miffed.  I would love to hear from you about great blitz campaigns you've been involved in or heard of... Share below.






  1. We did the Wofford 500 last November. We had 772 donors in 24-hours and raised almost $150,000. I agree with the advice you have given here 100%! It is definitely a team effort and a lot of work, but absolutely worth it when you reach your goal at the end. Don't think you have to be a big school like Wake to get it done either! You can do a campaign like this for relatively no (or low) cost! Great job Wake and Hollins!

  2. From the Folks at Wake Forest:
    Except for printing of postcards and mailing, the piece was done in-house, so very little overhead on project-- but a lot of hands on deck to make it happen!

    Creative team (writer/ art director) initially concepted the piece and storyboarded for review. Upon approval, sketches were tightened and taken to the animation phase-- this process took about two weeks from kickoff meeting to finished concept. Working in After Effects, the motion graphics took about 1 week to animate. While this was being created, designers also worked on a postcard that was mailed to approximately 40,000 alumni. This card was designed in less than a day and printed in two days-- very fast turn-- but incorporated the same look and feel of video. Simultaneously, the Digital team was creating a new appearance for the Alumni Giving page utilizing the same graphics. Also built into the animation was similar motion as the video to track giving amounts over the 24 hour period. To support the campaign, our social media strategist used similar language, look and feel to push messaging out through all media channels using the hashtag #wake500, which generated 298 Tweets in a 24-hour period. elivery of the various promotional elements were released in a coordinated build leading up to the day of the event then pumped out continuously during the day. Ultimately, with people manning phones and making calls, coordinating production, and tracking giving, it's hard to nail down a tight number for folks involved. In a compressed timeframe, the effort touched literally every area of University Advancement.

    The annual fund is large, unrestricted and a bit mysterious to donors who want to know exactly what their gifts support. Given the frequency of communication and the lifelong relationship between an alumnus and the annual fund, it doesn't take long for a donor to become conditioned to the pitch. So we set out to confront conventual hesitations with an unconventional presentation of reasons to give. Enter zombies, robots, and hot dogs.