Case Study: Pacific Lutheran University Builds Fundraising Momentum | GiveCampus

CASE STUDY

Need to build fundraising momentum—and maintain it? Use peer-to-peer engagement to rally your community.

How Pacific Lutheran University created urgency over the course of the spring to bring new and reacquired donors to the table for their Student Emergency Fund

The Challenge

PLU runs a more concentrated Giving Day every fall with great results. In spring 2020, the Covid-19 crisis meant the school needed to rise to new challenges and provide emergency relief funding for students. PLU knew that their students’ needs would exceed what the CARES Act provided, and also understood that students’ needs weren’t going to disappear over the summer—they were going to increase, particularly for international students and undocumented students.

As Assistant Director of Annual Giving Jayne Berglund put it, “These students who were facing major financial hardships are students who are a priority for us. At PLU, we put our students first, and it was a no-brainer to focus on fundraising for the student emergency fund.”

Meanwhile, fundraising during a crisis meant it was more important than ever to focus the Advancement team’s time on the highest impact activities, and efficiently launch a campaign that could inspire the community to act.

The Solution

PLU launched a student emergency fund in March 2020, and spent the rest of the spring mobilizing their community to take action on one campaign on the Social Fundraising Platform—rebranding it along the way to create urgency around specific moments. These “mini campaigns” drew in new donors and donors who gave multiple times over a short period of time, while giving the PLU advancement team a chance to iterate and make data-driven decisions about their content.

After an initial focus on more somber messaging, they pivoted to more positive content for #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5, the first of these mini-campaigns. PLU then used insights from #GivingTuesdayNow—namely the impact of that positive messaging—to launch an “8 Days of Care” Beatles-themed push at the end of May, choosing to go with an even more upbeat campaign theme to bring in a fresh wave of support.

“It pulls in different types of people, and also encourages people to give multiple times over the course of the campaign,” said Berglund.

After the 8 Days campaign ended, PLU decided to keep their campaign alive with a clear, positive message about the impact gifts have made so far, and the continued need to show #LutesCare by making gifts over the summer.

The Social Fundraising Platform made it easy to keep that campaign running—and keep building one narrative about all the ways that Lutes have supported each other over this challenging spring. Meanwhile, visitors to the campaign page can easily see their cumulative impact, both in a dollar and donor amount.

"These campaigns attracted people who hadn’t given before and people who hadn’t given in a long time because they could see that our campaign represented a major community effort."
Jayne Berglund
Assistant Director of Annual Giving, Pacific Lutheran University
How did GiveCampus make it easier to sustain interest from donors?
PLU successfully ran a longer-term digital fundraising campaign by taking advantage of key GiveCampus product features and drawing on resources from the GiveCampus Partner Success program.
  • Replacing their end-of-the-year letter appeal with a digital campaign on the Social Fundraising Platform and a student emergency fund-specific Giving Form that matched the moment
  • Publicizing matching gifts to create urgency on #GivingTuesdayNow and 8 Days of Care campaigns
  • Sharing important resources that helped Lutes understand additional ways to support each other beyond gifts, made visible and easily accessible right on the campaign page
  • Leaning on content suggestions and communications assets from the GiveCampus Partner Success team to quickly turnaround social posts, email content, and more for the 8 Days of Care campaign
  • Focusing on campaign strategy and goals, knowing that the platform made implementation easy and that they wouldn’t have to create a communications plan from scratch. That ability to lean into digital communications made a measurable difference:

165%

increase in donors from social media compared to FY19

130%

increase in donors from email channels compared to FY19

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