Case Study: Vassar College's Vassar500 24-Hour Crowdfunding Campaign
After that, crowdfunding really piqued Vassar’s interest. Then it began to see many of its peer institutions and other universities embarking on 24-hour crowdfunding giving challenges, which had giving at the center of the campaigns but veered from the typical appeal. They were all about creating experiences and building community to support the institutions.
Vassar knew it wanted to get into the crowdfunding game, but it also wanted to test this new fundraising channel before utilizing it for the class of ’89’s 25th reunion campaign. It targeted its third fundraising appeal of the fiscal year, which dropped in February and historically performed the poorest of the college’s four annual fundraising appeals.
Copy and steal everything
To get started, Vassar participated in a webinar from fellow liberal arts institution Illinois Wesleyan University, detailing its “All in for Wesleyan” 24-hour crowdfunding giving challenge.
“We just thought it was very interesting and decided, in the spirit of CASE — copy and steal everything — we’re going to see if we can replicate a version of that that’s for us and see how it works.”
To tailor the Illinois Wesleyan idea for the Vassar community, instead of using the president of the college as the face of the campaign like Illinois Wesleyan did, Vassar asked its student body president, Deb Steinberg, to be the lead, since typically the February appeal comes from a student.
“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.