Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thank and Give Day- Best Practice in Action!

To celebrate National Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day on February 27, 2014, the University at Buffalo held its first-ever TAG Day (Thank And Give Day).  
We had several goals going into this multi-faceted project: educate students about philanthropy, expose students to the impact of giving at UB, recognize faculty and staff giving and thank current donors.
The Office of Donor Relations and Stewardship and the Office of Annual Programs began planning for TAG Day together in November 2013.  Once our basic ideas were formed, we assembled a larger committee, with representation from development staff in our 14 schools and units.  The committee gave great input and helped to formalize the plan.

TAG Day Stations:  We originally wanted to keep it simple and set up 2 or 3 “TAG Day Stations” in high traffic areas on each of our campuses. After forming our larger committee, the excitement grew and so did our plan.  We ended up with 12 stations total!

Goal #1:  Engage, educate and expose students to philanthropy
·       At each station, we used price tags to tag items and spaces on campus that have been supported by donor dollars.  Since we are a large, public institution, it is very difficult for us to find the exact cost of items.  Instead of exact prices, our tags featured a few different phrases such as “Did you know?” facts.
·       We also tagged physical items (a police bike and a microscope for example) and large signs that were made for the day with photos of scholarship students or endowed faculty.
·       We handed out lollipops and bracelets that encouraged students to “Think About Giving”

Goal #2:  Thank donors
·       Students were asked to sign thank you banners that were ultimately left behind for display at each station.  They were also asked to write handwritten messages on pre-printed thank you cards.
·       Students (and faculty/staff!) had a lot of fun using props and signs to take “selfies” saying thank you to our donors.  We had hand-held signs made up to use in the photos.  Students could take their pick of what sign they wanted to use.  We encouraged them to post their photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #UBTAGDAY.  To further incentivize them, we offered $100 campus cash to the top 3 winning photos.  In the end we had 64 photos on Instagram, 336 posts and photos on Twitter and 43 posts on Facebook.  

Goal #3:  Recognize faculty and staff giving:
·       We wanted to both recognize faculty and staff donors as well as show students that faculty and staff give back.  We mailed a letter with an explanation of TAG Day along with buttons that said “I GIVE, TAG, you’re it! #UBTAGDAY” to current faculty/staff donors and asked that they wear their pins on February 27th.   There was much more buzz from our faculty/staff donors than we anticipated!

The BIG Day:
Students were very responsive to our message and happy to sign our banners and write thank you notes. They were very excited to take photos with our props and post them to social media. Our volunteers had just as much fun as the students taking “selfies” and pictures of their stations – it sort of became a competition between the stations. At our Student Union station, our university president and a few other university leaders stopped by and posed for pictures with students. 

Every station had their own thing going for them – some received more thank you notes than others, my station got a lot of signatures on our banner, and other stations had amazing student photos that were posted! We even had donors who were not in Buffalo posting #UBTAGDAY and telling people why they supported UB.

In all, we are calling #UBTAGDAY a success! We are already working on a plan for next years TAG Day. Next year, would like to do a little more investigating into what days certain groups of students are on campus, such as our pharmacy and law students who are only on campus certain days of the week. TAG Day was a lot of work but we had a great team behind us and we had fun! We encourage all schools out there to do something for National Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day. It’s important to educate today’s students about philanthropy as they will hopefully be tomorrow’s donors.

For more UB TAG Day information, please feel free to contact Katie Camm in UB’s office of Donor Relations and Stewardship at kehunt@buffalo.edu or (716) 881-7483.

1 comment:

  1. I work for a nonprofit (not a college) and we did a successful thank-a-thon last year. I need to defend to leadership doing a thank-a-thon again. Do you have suggestions on hard data showing the extra thank you notes and calls make a difference? We are pulling the retention rate and giving totals on the group of donors we thanked last year as well, but since not so much time has past those numbers don't say a ton (the retention of that group is 4% better than our average group but would they be anyways, etc.).