NC State University: Driving Alumni Donations
North Caroline State University (NC State) is a leading public research university in Raleigh, NC. NC State consists of 12 colleges and offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in 65 departments. The university ranks in the top 1% of universities worldwide and has been ranked the best public college in North Carolina. To date, NC State has more than 250,000 living alumni with 160,000 alumni still living in North Carolina.
The team at NC State hosts an annual Day of Giving. NC State wanted to add another method to reach alumni to its communications strategy. Staff were already using various outreach methods such as email and social media. However, they wanted to expand their efforts for driving alumni donations and dive into a new method: text messaging.
As a result, NC State partnered with Signal Vine to begin texting alumni for this year’s Day of Giving.
Normally, NC State hosts its Day of Giving in March. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the institution’s Day of Giving until September. To prepare, NC State staff created an Insider Program for alumni to opt into via text message. As a result, these alumni had instant access to information surrounding the Day of Giving.
The NC State team notes that an important element of their Day of Giving is Game Theory. Staff members “gamify” giving by sparking fun competition between colleges, programs, and student organization affinity groups. They also make a habit of emphasizing how important even small donations are. Finally, they create a sense of urgency among donors. They will communicate challenges that expire in a certain amount of time and announce when the Day of Giving is about to end.
With these strategies in mind, NC State used Signal Vine to segment populations and test out its Insider Program with hopes of seeing a positive impact on the Day of Giving.
NC State’s Day of Giving occurred on September 16. In 24 hours, NC State secured more than $23 million in donations and 8,230 gifts – nearly double the university’s donation total in 2019.
The Executive Director of Annual Giving at NC State, Adam Compton, shared a few of his team’s best practices.
- Segment audiences. Message content will change depending on who the recipient is. For example, alumni should receive different messages from their parents and families. Further, alumni can be segmented by former major or college to further unify them, driving alumni donations.
- Create fun competitions to promote giving. The team at NC State always hosts fun contests to get alumni involved in the Day of Giving. Staff circulate leaderboards and challenges to publicly show the alumni who collectively give the most. This year, the College of Veterinary Medicine ranked #1 on the leaderboard in the Red Division while the Wilson College of Textiles ranked #1 in the White Division.
- Get others involved. Adam notes how important it is to make a Day of Giving a university-wide effort. From getting NC State’s Chancellor involved and recruiting ambassadors to creating a text-based Insider Program, it’s important to ensure that the entire community is promoting the Day of Giving.
In today's busy world, we are always looking for tools that help us to break through the noise in the market and continue to not only be multi-channel but meet our constituents where they are. For us, texting provided a critical tool to communicate with our constituents on a realtime basis to drive further engagement through our day.
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