Our customers’ #GivingTuesday 2014 numbers are in, and boy, do they speak volumes.

The dollars transacted through Abila Fundraising Online during the third annual global day of giving, held Tuesday, December 2, increased a whopping 2,000 percent from the first #GivingTuesday, held just two years ago.

In addition, our number of transactions increased by 13 times since the movement’s inception, and even the average donation grew from $111 in 2012 to $199 this year.

But the numbers only tell part of the story.

At closer inspection, we learn that some of our customers knocked it out of the park, while others saw marginal participation. One of the big winners of the day is Wesleyan University, for which we transacted nearly $414,900 in online donations.

In just 24 hours, according to Deborah Treister, Wesleyan’s University Relations’ Director of Planning and Administration, the school received a record-breaking 2,000+ gifts totaling more than $500,000, plus a leadership gift of $100,000.

tiw_headerWesleyan Shares Secrets to its Success

The fundraising team extended a very specific #GivingTuesday challenge: If donors gave a collective 1,000 gifts, an alum/parent/trustee would establish a scholarship for an incoming freshman in the class of 2019. All the gifts given on December 2 would be added to this scholarship, helping fund four years of  Wesleyan for this new student.

The two-week, multichannel campaign spotlighted seven current students who have benefited from scholarships. The staff sent their alumni a series of 10 emails starting the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, and ending with five different emails throughout the day December 2, updating them on gift totals. They also used Twitter, Facebook, the alumni newsletter and school website to spread the word. Additionally, on the day-of, they enlisted the help of students to make phone calls to potential donors from noon to 9 p.m. and held a phone-a-thon in New York, manned by alumni and parents.

Treister attributes their success to several key strategies:

  1. The challenge was very specific and the message, consistent. “#GivingTuesday certainly has some cache,” says Treister. “We were able to build on that, relating the giving to financial aid, a huge topic on campus and the focus of a bigger, ongoing $400 million fundraising campaign.”
  1. The focus was personal. “The seven students featured in the campaign told very personal stories,” she says. “It was a group of very distinctive kids. Not just a single profile. So there was bound to be something in their stories relatable to everyone.”
  1. Participation of celebrity alumni. “We videotaped messages from celebrity alumni and embedded them in our emails,” Treister explains. “Additionally, one of our emails actually came from a celebrity alumnus.”

On December 3, Wesleyan sent out a thank you email to its #GivingTuesday donors, 150 of whom were lapsed donors and 100 of whom were new donors. They are now slicing and dicing their database, looking for affinities and determining “next steps” based on open rates, click through rates; what worked and what didn’t.

Treister says they will use this knowledge to develop a spring giving campaign and plan for #GivingTuesday 2015. The next challenge? Repeating this success.

Find out more about how Wesleyan is maintaining and growing its vital donor relationships by reading our Wesleyan University Customer Success Story.