Case Study: Vassar College's Vassar500 24-Hour Crowdfunding Campaign
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.
Then, on Feb. 19, Vassar sent a very short teaser email — advice from Illinois Wesleyan — that simply read, “Tomorrow is an important day for Vassar College. Check your email in the morning for a message from Vassar Student Association President Deb Steinberg ’14,” below the Vassar500 logo.
“We put the Vassar500 logo on that because we wanted people to be like, ‘Huh? What’s that?’” McCarthy says.