Case Study: Vassar College's Vassar500 24-Hour Crowdfunding Campaign
Then at 9 a.m. the next day, Steinberg’s first message dropped announcing the challenge, stating the goal, laying out the challenge contribution from the Mars family, and asking for alumni to participate and spread the word. By 11:30, the campaign was already almost at 500 donors, and in the first four hours, the Vassar500 had already exceeded its goal.
“We were completely shocked when we met that goal in the first four hours of the campaign. We really did not expect that,” McCarthy says. “So we quickly reconnoitered and said, ‘What do we think? Let’s make it the Vassar1000 instead and see if we can get there.’”
By the time the first image update was sent around lunchtime, the goal had already been met, so Vassar adjusted its wording to read, “We slashed through our 500 donor goal and challenge you to 1,000!”
From there on out, the image updates were all labeled as the Vassar1000, upping the ante and showing the flexibility a crowdfunding campaign allows for. The second image update was sent around 5 p.m., the third on Friday a few hours before the end of the campaign and the final thank-you image that used the pun “‘Tank’ you” in reference to the well-known tank the French government had gifted Vassar following World War II in honor of the Vassar women who served as nurses during the war.
The volunteers who had been prepped in advance were extremely engaged, sharing, soliciting and promoting the campaign, and it continued to amplify. Just as Vassar had hoped, a real-time, personal experience was created, and the community was engrossed in the campaign.
“We had one woman from a class in the 1940s who was watching it like daytime television. She kept calling us — ‘This is so fun! This is so exciting!’ It was really cool. She was very engaged,” McCarthy says.
With the Vassar500 challenge met so quickly and the campaign rebranded on the fly to the Vassar1000, the question really was whether or not the college could actually double the initial goal. Turns out it did and then some.