Purdue University is a large research university based in West Lafayette, Indiana, and each year we host a fundraiser called Purdue Day of Giving. The event invites the Purdue community to come together for 24 hours to grant opportunities and transform lives.

In its fourth year, we knew we had to find fresh ways to interact with and engage our audience—students, alumni, parents, friends, retirees, faculty, and staff—in order for the fundraising campaign to beat last year’s numbers.

We decided to take advantage of the huge reach of social media, and conducted a coordinated campaign across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn—an approach that played a key role in breaking our record.

A few ways we used social media to increase our numbers include:

1. Social Listening

During the campaign, we took advantage of a tool called Hootsuite, which allowed us to monitor social media channels for mentions of our organization and for hashtags related to our day of giving. We used keyword search streams to listen to our target audience and inform our campaign strategy, which helped us raise awareness for the event, better interact with supporters, and boost audience engagement.

We also set up Hootsuite Insights’ streams for our hashtags #IGave and #PurdueDayofGiving. These dedicated streams monitored every mention of our hashtags, beyond our own social channels, and allowed our social media team to observe all online conversations in one place.

With every donor who used #IGave and #PurdueDayofGiving, the team was able to efficiently act on these online discussions and respond accordingly; this streamlined our social media monitoring activity and helped us increase engagement speed.

This year, we sent out a total of 218 thank-you videos in response to uses of #IGave, featuring a personalized short video or an Instagram Boomerang, and received over 34 million impressions throughout the campaign.

(Next page: Fundraising via social media tips 2-3)

About the Author:

Kate Jolly is the director of Digital Fundraising, University Development Office, Purdue Research Foundation. Steve Schlenk is the associate director of Philanthropic Communications, University Development Office, Purdue Research Foundation. Martin Sickafoose is the director of Digital Marketing, Office of Marketing & Media, Purdue University.


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