Big Data, Crowdfunding and the Fundraising Technology Craze
“She was all over it and thought it was really fun. She got really excited, and we let her run with it,” McCarthy says.
Steinberg wrote the appeal, found the visuals, came up with the Vassar500 campaign name and thought through the entire thing, McCarthy adds. Of course, Steinberg had plenty of help, including with the name. Historically, the better of the February fundraising appeals for Vassar had brought in about 500 donors, so the goal of this new crowdfunding initiative was to bring in 500 donors — thus the Vassar500 was born.
And the materials, from the day-of appeals to the little teasers and the visuals to the Vassar500 site — which was set up on the Launcht crowdfunding platform — were pulled together in about four weeks.
To aid in amplifying the campaign, Vassar also lined up a challenge gift from a legacy family. If the campaign reached its 500-donor goal in the 24-hour period, Virginia Cretella Mars, her daughter Pamela Mars and granddaughter Bernadette Russell — all Vassar alumni — would donate $175,000 to the annual fund, which the Vassar500 campaign would support.
The Vassar500 … or is that Vassar1000?
With the goal and materials in place, it was time to launch the campaign. However, Vassar did not promote the Vassar500 months, weeks or even days before Feb. 20, the date of the challenge launch.
Instead, it did a silent outreach to its volunteers about a week before the campaign describing the Vassar500 challenge and asking them to participate and help spread the word — but also to keep it a secret. Included in the information was a volunteer checklist to encourage volunteers to participate, send emails and post to social media about the campaign on the day of.
“We wanted to create an experience for our volunteers that made them feel good and useful and gave them very specific things to do at very specific times,” McCarthy says.