Roland Martin has made it very clear that alumni giving is embarrassingly low across HBCUs, and that alone makes the case for corporate giving that much more difficult. So he’s issued a challenge to his Twitterverse to adopt an HBCU and make a donation whether they attended one or not. He’s been promoting the initiative by wearing a different HBCU lapel pin every day and highlighting it at News One Now and during an interview on The Breakfast Club. At best, our universities will see an increase in giving as a result of his #HBCUGivingDay campaign, and it could also stimulate peer influence similar to the FAMU 10 for $10 challenge that raised $10,000 in just two days. At worst, it brings greater awareness to the financial challenges across HBCUs.
Although #HBCUGivingDay isn’t directed at any particular university, here’s five ways that your university could take advantage of the effort.
Join the conversation
It’s unknown how long Roland Martin will keep this going, but that doesn’t mean that your university has to stop. Follow the hashtag, and contribute to the conversations. Publicly thank donors as they’re giving, and create a clean, thank you graphic to go along with it. If you really want to get creative and make a bigger impact, create a Facebook photo frame or Instagram filter that givers can drop into their picture once they’ve given.
Use the opportunity to craft a series of short, compelling, shareable content that inspires giving. Donors like to know how their giving is impactful. So create a narrative around how the university benefits from donations. This also helps to promote transparency and accountability. Maybe it’s a short video testimonial by a student that’s benefited from a scholarship thanks to a donor’s gift. If funds raised are being used for the athletic programs, perhaps you can create an infographic on what it takes to run the athletics program from stadium improvements to scholarships and recruiting. Give donors a behind the scenes glimpse of your various athletic programs and even get some of the student athletes in on the conversation.
Start a crowdfunding campaign
Borrow a page from the tech and startup world and start a crowdfunding campaign. It might sound tacky but could be very useful for smaller fundraising initiatives.
Don’t be afraid to go big.
Start a friendly competition across programs, departments, individual colleges, and various initiatives across your campus. Host a series of different challenges at the same time, because people give when there’s a personal attachment. They may not be compelled to give towards athletics, but they’ll give to their journalism program just because that was their program of study. Encourage participation across your departments so that they also join in on the action by promoting the giving challenge. Just be prepared to create a sound strategy around this bigger campaign so that it’s impactful.
Start an ambassador program.
Peer influence works. So use it to your benefit. Is the mayor or some other high profile person in your town an alum? Do you have a famous professional athlete or celebrity as an alum? What about corporate donors or even student influencers? Identify ambassadors that would be willing to participate in the campaign through video, social media posts, and other messaging.