Goodbye, Ballrooms: Campaign Kickoffs Go Online
April 16, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education — As economic pressures have squeezed college budgets, fund-raising offices have looked to the Internet to save money, using e-mail solicitations instead of pricier print materials or a thank-you video in place of a closing party. Now, colleges are experimenting with online campaign kickoffs.
Binghamton University plans to introduce its new campaign in cyberspace next Thursday night. Instead of throwing a traditional party with a sit-down meal and live music, the university, part of the State University of New York system, is inviting alumni and supporters to log on to a Web site for a virtual celebration.
Holding an online-oriented event allows colleges to save a lot of money—like the most lavish weddings, launch parties can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars—and experiment with new ways of engaging younger or Web-savvy people who wouldn't normally attend a campaign kickoff. But in altering one of the main rallying moments of a campaign, colleges could run the risk of not inspiring potential donors.