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Achieving Giving Day Buy-In from your Campus Network with CofC

In this episode of Giving & Gabbing, we welcomed Higher-Ed fundraising specialist Michelle Mullins onto our show. Michelle is the Assistant Director of Integrated Marketing Strategy at the College of Charleston (CofC) and oversees their annual Giving Day, CofC Day.

Following the success of their first event, the campus community had a deeper understanding of the lasting impact that CofC Day generated for the college. With this, Michelle and her team were able to build relationships across departments to use their unique skills and connections to further collaborate on the day.

Through this buy-in across campus, all involved were able to feel a greater sense of connection to the day and were motivated to build off of the momentum that was created in the prior year.

As Michelle and her team planned for CofC Day 2021, they made a goal to grow their social media engagement by 10% to ensure their day had a larger online presence. Because of her dedication to creating relationships across campus departments, Michelle was able to work closely with the Social Media Director. With a social media strategy in place to promote the event in advance, and on the day, Michelle was able to reach a larger audience and experienced higher site traffic coming from social accounts.

2021-05-03 at 8.30 AM

“Where I really saw the most success for the day … was getting that buy-in and building relationships so that other people worked on it on their own scale all across offices on our campus.”

With this additional support available throughout campus, Michelle and her team were able to implement new strategies this year that brought together their network in new and engaging ways such as their “CofC Donor Challenge and the CofC Day Broadcast.

The “CofC Donor Challenge” encouraged donors of all sizes to work together to unlock $1.5 million once a gift was made by 1,500 supporters. This allowed the team to emphasize the importance of donor participation, guide marketing efforts, and incentivize alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends to make an even greater impact on the college.

By going live through the CofC Day Broadcast, Michelle’s team was able to fully engage with donors in a digital environment. She was able to connect with three Alumni anchors while highlighting the College of Charleston’s cheer and dance teams, and well as sharing exciting updating about things happening around campus.  

CofC Day 2021 saw tremendous success with over $9.6 million in just 24 hours, a 90.76% increase from its inaugural campaign in 2020!

In this episode of Giving & Gabbing, our guest Michelle Mullins discusses:

  • A brief history of CofC Day, and how the College of Charleston’s fundraising efforts have grown since joining GiveGab
  • How Michelle’s team built relationships with campus partners to collaborate on the day
  • Specific goals set for CofC Day and the strategies implemented to achieve them
  • Leveraging donor challenges and live steam content to incentivize giving.
  • Advice for colleges who are searching for new ways to engage their donors and supporters through their Giving Day?

Check out the full interview with Michelle Mullins on Achieving Giving Day Buy-In from your Campus Network by:

Reading the interview transcript

Watching the live interview video recording


Listening to our Giving & Gabbing Podcast episode

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Podcast episodes include nonprofit communication and marketing strategies and interviews with fundraising professionals from across the nonprofit and education sectors.

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Interview Transcript


Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Thomas and I’m the Brand Marketer here at GiveGab. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Giving & Gabbing. Today our special guest is Michelle Mullins, Assistant Director of Integrated Marketing Strategy for the College of Charleston.

Michelle and her team host the College of Charleston’s annual Giving Day, CofC Day, on the GiveGab platform. During their most recent event on January 28th, 2021, the college saw significant growth with over $9.6 million raised by over 2,000 donors in just 24 hours. We brought Michelle on today to discuss her team’s strategies that led to this growth, such as sitewide challenges and live stream content.

Joining me from the GiveGab team, we have Isaiah, one of our Project Coordinators, and Jackie, our Sales Ops Coordinator. Throughout this past year, Isaiah has worked closely with Michelle and her team to ensure that the College of Charleston achieved fundraising success on our platform. Jackie has also previously worked with Michelle’s team, offering additional support during their first year on the GiveGab platform.

During this episode, we will be talking about the various tools that the College of Charleston utilized, as well as advice to other higher ed institutions interested in running their own Giving Day. And with that, I will hand it off to Isaiah to get started with our first question.


Isaiah: Thanks, Katie. It’s great to see you here today, Michelle, thanks for joining us! Yeah, to get things started, I just wondered if you could share a little about your history around CofC Day and how the college has utilized us for their fundraising efforts and how that’s grown on the GiveGab platform.


Michelle: Definitely, and thanks so much for having me! It’s great to see you again, Isaiah, loved working with you and everyone on the GiveGab team, but CofC Day was launched in January of 2020, so we really lucked out with the timing that we didn’t have to switch our first year to virtual, and originally we were actually going to launch CofC Day later in 2020 and we decided we wanted to launch it in tandem with our college’s 250th anniversary, which was January 30th, so that was definitely a blessing in disguise. As a side note on that, we had the timeline with GiveGab that was going to be later in the spring, and they said no problem, we can push it back, and that definitely worked out in our favor, not only with the engagement with celebrating our 250th anniversary but with everything that’s happened with COVID, very grateful that we launched earlier in the year of 2020.

And yeah, this past year, had another great success working with you all on our basically first virtual Giving Day in January of 2021. So we have seen, like Katie mentioned, great growth with raising $5 million and basically over doubling that with over $9.6 million for our second year. So, that comes with working with a great team internally with the College of Charleston and then also with you guys and having a great project management team, support, and easy-to-use site.


Jackie: Thank you, Michelle. Thank you so much for being here, and we want to know a little bit about the planning and logistics of your day as well. So what did that look like and how were you able to build those relationships with partners on campus who really helped contribute to the day?


Michelle: Yeah, so we have a small but mighty annual giving team, we have six people in our office and I’m the project lead for our Giving Day for CofC Day. And so, first of all, for some of the planning and logistics, we divide it into somewhat different components of fundraising, the marketing of the day, events, and of course, general project management. And so, planning it, especially the first year, we were just kind of trying our best because we’d never done it before and seeing what responsibilities fit what team members best. And so, the second year we kind of ironed out some of the kinks with assigning different responsibilities and having additional committees. We had a fundraising committee, we had an events committee, and also a marketing and communications committee.

So, that’s kind of where building relationships with other people on campus really helped us and the day’s success, so besides just our six members of our smaller annual giving team, we’re able to partner with people from our marketing and communications office, especially people who work specifically in different schools or colleges across campus, as well as people from IT, we have people who’ve coordinated different events for our 250th anniversary, as well as, I mean, people in the president’s office, athletics, and everyone in institutional advancement. So, that’s where I really see the most success come from for the day is not just our logistical getting this day off the ground, getting this day up and running, from a broader scale getting that buy-in and building relationships so that other people work on it on their own scale all across offices on our campus.


Katie: A Giving Day is definitely a celebration of your campus community so it’s really cool that everyone kind of gets a hand in creating this event and building it up so that when it does happen, you have the whole campus kind of rallying around this cause.


Michelle: And starting with the 250th anniversary, we were really able to tie in that idea of, it’s giving back and celebrating the college and so regardless if it’s a huge anniversary like the 250th or the 253rd, whatever that looks like, there’s always this idea with our Giving Day of engagement and giving back and celebrating what’s so great about the school and, while you’re celebrating, you may as well give back to what you love about the college.


Isaiah: Yeah, it’s incredible like what a small team can do, and you know, like you mentioned with the campus buy-in, it makes a huge impact, but really you know, that small team is very mighty in what they can do and it’s just amazing to see the results in the end.

But, yeah so for my next question, I’m curious about your overall goals for the day, I know we talked about the growth from 2020 to 2021, so if you could talk a little bit about, kind of, you know after having that inaugural Giving Day, setting your goals and setting your strategy for the following year and maybe how that’s also kind of like going into the future into 2022 and how did GiveGab help you reach those goals, like what concrete ways do you think we really kind of helped go after your specific strategies to reach your goals?


Michelle: So, with the first Giving Day in 2020 being such a success of course that raises the bar for future Giving Days so, to be honest, a little bit nerve-wracking going into our Giving Day this past January in 2021, can we make the goals, like we raised $5 million last year. And we were able to set our goal at raising, I mean, closer to around $8 million, and part of that is knowing…having a whole year to plan and partnering with our major gift officers and having them secure more challenges so we kind of knew going into it that, okay, we’re raising the bar a little bit and we did not expect it to get all the way up to $9.6 million which is also really exciting, and then the other part of that is, not just the dollars raised, but the donors, and the increase in engagement, and so our goal was to secure over 1,500 donors and we had over 1,900 donors total which was amazing, and something I’m really passionate about is not just the large, like shiny big numbers of fundraising goals but also the number of donors and people who are engaged and giving back on the day.

And so partnering with GiveGab on the day gave us the ability to have a site for two years in a row, have that consistency, and it trained our audience to know what to expect, something that’s easy to use, and something that I think really helped this past year is we had these tiles with the different profiles on our homepage, so someone could easily scroll down and see a little image that had someone from athletics or someone from the libraries and see a real student there and be drawn in of like, oh, I immediately want to give to that, instead of just a name, I think having the visual really made a difference and easy for people to navigate.

So I think that ties in to definitely the number of donors that we had and I guess one final thing, not on the fundraising side, but more on the engagement, as we discussed about it being like a celebration, is we had a goal of increase social media engagement by 10% for our second year, and we were able to far surpass that, which I also credit to some of our relationships and building out these committees to make it more of an even bigger day than we did the first time despite the second time being virtual. So having a close partnership with our somewhat new, she started in February of 2020, Social Media Director really helped with her posting and promoting our challenges, the day of giving beforehand, and on CofC Day, that really spike our engagement despite um, things being very different the second year.


Jackie: That’s great, we know that those social media promotions and sort of publicizing those goals are really important. And you mentioned having the campaign tiles as something to, sort of emphasizing those profiles and where people have the opportunity to give, sort of they’re expecting this now that you’re in your second year. Now, your Giving Day had a number of challenges and exciting things like that throughout the 24 hours, such as your 1,500 donor challenge that then unlocked an additional $1.5 million dollars for the college. How did these incentivize your supporters to give and how do you get the message out to these supporters?


Michelle: Challenges are super fun, I really like them and I really like that our major gift officers are more and more understanding what challenges and matching gifts are because I think there was a little bit of confusion for the first year. So, similar to our audience understanding what a Giving Day is, they’re totally on board and so we were able to have a number of challenges like you mentioned but the one that I was most excited about was the sitewide challenge of 1500 donors total that would unlock the gift of $1.5 million dollars. And so, we used a lot of the marketing strategies that I kind of already mentioned with social media, and also email marketing, and then, I think one thing that really made a difference is, due to it being a virtual year, our virtual event was a live stream. And so in the real-time live video our alumni anchors for the show that we put on were able to give real-time updates of how many donors we were at, spur on some excitement about how we would unlock this huge gift if people gave, and so, I don’t know if that’s like exactly what tipped it over the edge, but we were able to meet that challenge while still during the live stream, and so we were able to celebrate unlocking the challenge and how we got that amazing gift thanks to everyone’s participation. So I think that goes for a lot of challenges, not just that larger one throughout the day of how you can promote them on social media, but specifically, when you have live stream on social, you can tell your donors what’s going on in real-time, kind of like how I would say Giving Days tend to be successful promoting on Twitter, because you can do more live posts and you’re not going to post 15 times in a row on Instagram.


Isaiah: Right, yeah and to dive in even more about the live stream, so, you know, of course, that’s a big thing that was going on in 2020 and of course, still in early 2021, a lot of Giving Days are switching to like you mentioned, their first virtual Giving Day. So, could you just tell a little bit more about how maybe you planned for that live stream?

I know there was the alumni awards ceremony, there were the cheer and dance teams, had a, you know, a segment, I know I saw you on there a couple of times, I was cheering, Go Michelle! But, um…you know, and even the anchors that you mentioned, I was watching at one point…I was watching specifically when we hit the 1500 donors and I was really excited about that, I know they were too, but how do you plan for something like that? Because that’s something I don’t think is going away, I think it’s going to be a part of Giving Days going forward in the future, and when we’re finally out of this pandemic, I think like, you know, that’s going to stick around, so I think people would be curious to know how do you plan for a live stream like that and have it be part of the success of your Giving Day?


Michelle: Yeah totally, and you’re very right that they’re not going away and now we know that more, but last summer as we were preparing for January of 2021 for our second CofC Day, there was just a lot of uncertainty of what we were going to do, what campus was going to look like, what events at the time, if we were going to have any, what we were going to possibly do that was safe and fun. So we toyed around with the idea, honestly, even prior to a live stream, of a virtual world, where like people would have a character and go on their own, but given our lead time, we couldn’t design something that was specific enough that like looked like CofC, it would have been kind of standard and basic. So we decided to stick with a live stream, which we’ve done on a smaller scale before, and I’m really happy that we moved forward in that direction.

So with regards to planning, I can kind of break it down into a couple of steps, and knowing this, I would just try and encourage people to plan as much in advance as they can, which was not necessarily the case for us, but that was just kind of what we were dealing with of not knowing if we could do anything in person and finally landing on doing a live stream. So to start, I was able to talk with a contact at Notre Dame who also works with you all with their Giving Day, their GiveGab site, and they have been doing a live stream kind of telethon-esque thing for their Giving Day for years. So, they’re definitely some of the masters of it since they’ve been doing it for so long and so being able to connect with other professionals in higher ed who’ve gone through it before was very helpful. And they had talked to me too, and kind of even reassured me working with you all like yeah, GiveGab is great, our site never crashed with this live stream that, they do it all day for 24 hours, and I realized, knowing that, that I could definitely pair the two together of a live stream on YouTube with our GiveGab site.

And so, bringing it back a little bit, we decided on about two hours, not a full like almost 24, Notre Dame has a lot of footage that they do and they plan for it almost all year. So we decided to partner with a local company that has basically an in-house studio, so we could go live, like it was a real news studio, depending on a college’s video capabilities maybe they would already have something like that in-house, but just a local company that had something where we could set up and go live that was pretty close to campus. And then we coordinated with our Alumni Affairs Department, who reached out to alumni who had been in broadcast before, and we ended up having three volunteers, we got more than we even asked for, which was cool, so we had two people in the studio and were able to jump to someone who was on campus.

And so another part that I think is really important kind of once you get the basics of like, where are we gonna film this thing, who’s gonna be talking on camera, is the majority of the run of the show as I like to show, or the content. So you want to talk about your Giving Day but you don’t want to just bore people by only asking them for money. We talk about this being a celebration of the school and we want that general engagement with our donors and alumni and so…we kind of settled…I don’t know if I want to say settled but decided on pre-recorded segments that could be evergreen. So we went around campus, some of them were fundraising priority, some were just general fun things like you mentioned that we had the dance and cheer teams do a routine outside with their masks on, we were able to pre-record it which was great, and then talking about some of the campus preservation, other priorities like our new library that’s getting built, and we’re able to film these segments about like 2-5 minutes and then put them in this run of the show with our anchors speaking in between the segments. So it gave them a second to breathe, they didn’t have to be live on camera for two full hours, and then our anchors’ main job was to have commentary on these pre-recorded videos about what’s going on on campus, and also talk about our fundraising updates.


So that’s when they could talk about the challenges, not only our big challenges but other challenges that were going on throughout the day that may be more specific to a school like we had a short video about our new engineering program and they could mention something about specifically giving to the school of science and math. So having that tie-in of general engagement, some pre-recorded but relevant and timely content, along with what’s going on live, and that kind of, um…negates some of the risks, too, because I know some people are a little scared of live footage, like what if something goes wrong and it’s right out there for everyone to see. Well, if you don’t have a full two hours or 24 hours of people being live on camera that kind of makes things a little bit safer, per se, or gives people a little bit more peace of mind.

So there’s definitely a lot of planning that goes into a live stream event, but thinking about it in that logical way, makes me think like okay, you secure the location, you find the video crew, and your anchors, and then you can kind of fill it in and work with your marketing department on some other content and tie that into the fundraising. So that’s the way I look at it, of the celebration, engagement, and fundraising lens for as much fun as an event that you can make it when you’re not actually together in person.


Isaiah: Yeah I think, I’m always really surprised at the…whenever I see like the production quality, whenever, you know, Giving Days that I work with, they have these live streams, and for yours, I was definitely like, pleasantly surprised because you never know until you see the live stream as you mentioned, about the risk it’s kind of like, I don’t know, see how it goes, but…it was such beautiful transitions and things like that and it’s just like, the small touches once you get the hang of it those small touches really make a big difference in how that live stream comes together.


Michelle: And I think the whole thing can be a little intimidating for people, especially even when I was looking at Notre Dame I was like wow, it’s so professional, they have these cameras and this studio from the, you know, where they film for sports, and it looks awesome. But despite ours, thankfully, turning out pretty professional and smooth, I do think there’s something to be said about people wanting more real content, so even if something isn’t as polished going live, even if it’s only with your annual giving team and maybe your VP of Institutional Advancement, or if you’re able to get a small, short note from a President, I think can mean a lot to your donors and supporters that they feel like, oh this is real, I want to support these people and support the school, even if it’s not Hollywood quality production.


Isaiah: Yeah, and you’ve mentioned Notre Dame a couple of times…Brandon, who’s the, you know, the guy who kind of runs that Giving Day over there, he’ll even tell you straight up, like…while they do have this wonderful production and they have like you said, very professional set up, it’s very fancy, very swanky, but he said, even he prefers, really likes those moments of just like an iPhone camera, going around campus, talking to people and stuff like that. There’s something to be said about having that as part of…it makes it more authentic, makes it more realistic, while also having like, you know, an awesome production going on as well. Just like, making it feel real for people I think is a huge step that can help with that and just, I don’t know, makes it a little bit more interesting sometimes.


Michelle: As real as you can get through a screen, you got to have something for the personality of the anchors and of the campus.


Isaiah: Exactly.


Jackie: Absolutely agree, and wow, getting to the real questions now. You’ve seen a lot of success, you’ve seen a lot of growth. If you had to choose sort of the one main, um…contributing factor there, what do you think you would attribute your growth to this year?


Michelle: Totally. And I think, honestly if we’re just drilling down to the utmost important thing would be general awareness between our constituents and also colleagues on campus which ties into what I was talking about before about this buy-in internally. Yes, I do believe that more people have been online because of COVID, but I don’t think that was the biggest factor for us. Really, I almost want to call it “people catching the vision” of what a Giving Day can be like, of celebrating the college and also raising money in the process.

And so, with that said, if the platform we directed them to wasn’t easy to use, I feel like we would have gotten people halfway there, and then lost them. So kind of this partnership that we have with you guys and pairing the two together of like okay, people know about this, but once we get them there, they can go through this checkout process, per se, and make a gift very easily. Because it’s almost like you know, if you’re buying something online and you leave it in your cart, the same thing can happen with gifts, if people didn’t catch the vision and say hey, I’m really excited and bought-in and I want to support this, whether that’s the work they do on campus or fully going through and making a donation.


Isaiah: You know, you mentioned a little bit ago about like the virtual world, and having people kind of like joining in the Giving Day in some kind of aspect like that. I’m curious if there’s anything like that or any other strategies or things that you have in mind or maybe you’ve talked about with your team or with us, about going forward, like how do you think you maintain or just like even build on that momentum of the success you’ve had? I mean, you’ve kind of talked about that a little bit already but um…are there any like cool or interesting or special things you’ve got in mind?


Michelle: The secrets of what we have up our sleeve next, well, I like to call this the million-dollar question, literally, because it’s like, how many more millions of dollars are you going to raise in the next coming years? So the virtual world, I guess we’ve kind of hit the fork in the road with that one since the live stream was successful and we’re just going further down that path, so I think that would be an exciting thing to explore if we were in a virtual-only world, but moving forward as, god willing, things will be in person again, we’re going to plan to do half and half. So, we’ll be bringing back in-person events and keeping the live stream but on a smaller scale.

So for one, we’re really excited to be using GiveGab’s live stream specific landing page, added that on to our contract for this next year and there’s also a texting component to that, so we’re excited to make that another thing that the audience can just expect, just like they’re expecting CofC Day, they’re expecting to get these videos for promotions, and to give on the day they can also start to expect live stream content and exciting videos and kind of updates about what’s happening on campus. But for our in-person events, again, it’s hard to know the future at this moment and what we’ll be able to do, but we’re thinking that we’d have something smaller on campus during the day, and in the evening stick with that same live stream time and pair it with in-person events for our alumni clubs.

So we have alumni clubs all across, well really not just the US but the world, where alumni who have moved maybe to DC or New York and we also have a Charleston low country chapter. CofC alumni can gather together, hang out, have a happy hour, and we had those kinds of events in our first year and so, we’d love to bring it back in 2022 where we have these alumni events specifically at places like bars or restaurants that have TVs or private rooms where you can put a TV or a laptop so the live stream can be going, at least in the background or on the side, so that people can see those updates about hitting challenges or new stuff that’s happening around campus, so to keep the momentum going, that’s what we’re gonna try and do. I’m gonna continue to work with my partners on campus to get that buy-in especially for our major gift officers who have been amazing, figuring out these challenges and motivating other donors through these large gifts.


Jackie: Yeah, as we sort of wrap up here, or start to wrap up, could you tell us any advice that you would give to other colleges that are looking for new ways to engage their donors and their supporters through their own Giving Day?


Michelle: So I would say to start at the source, so do you have your teammates onboard, this kind of goes all back to the relationships and buy-in that I was talking about earlier, but even in your annual giving office and not even just the ones who are planning logistics but your other partners across campus. So, working with them, doing presentations, showing them the value of the Giving Day, not just the initial ROI on what you fundraise for the day but also the long-term ROI of the celebration and marketing and fun stuff that’s going on with your campus and also a sense of tradition.


I think getting everyone on board like I mentioned for the most significant factor that contributed to our success, before you go to, well how do I get my donors on board, make sure your internal team is on board, so you start with the source that can then all work together to get more donors and supporters on board. And then with that, once you have people excited about your Giving Day, I think it’s really important to sit down together and brainstorm ideas and make sure you have the staff in place to implement those ideas. So it’s great to have all these wonderful Giving Day promotions and ideas that you want to try but if you don’t have staff members who can actually work out those ideas, they kind of will just fall by the wayside or not be as effective.


So, the other thing I would say is that you can also ask your audience, basically how they want to be engaged. So just because another school or nonprofit is doing a live stream show or a texting program doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your audience. Even asking them on an Instagram story through some sort of survey, you can even specifically ask people who have given before as part of like a VIP audience who’s able to give feedback, it’ll make them feel special and engaged, and then see what they’d like, some people want a text directly sent to them, sometimes people want email, some email inboxes are too cluttered, like, talk to me on social media. So I think asking the source of the donors and getting to your source of your team are two of the most important things for engaging your audience in the long run, even if you don’t see immediate results.


Jackie: Yes, I think that’s tremendous, um…you know, just getting that input from those supporters who you’re trying to reach really increases buy-in as we were discussing and that’s probably the number one thing that you need to accomplish in order to have a successful Giving Day. Sounds like you have a lot planned for next and I’m really excited to see what you come up with, um, and all those other potential Giving Days or existing Giving Days out there that might be listening, what they come up with as well as a result of listening to your wisdom.


Michelle: Well, I’m super excited, and it’s always funny since our Giving Day is at the very beginning of the year, I know we’re one of the first ones that you guys do since it’s in January. So I always am starting to talk about the next year, in like February of 2021 I’m talking about 2022. I’m like wow, times are moving fast, but you have to plan ahead, I guess that’s my other nugget of wisdom, as much as you can.


Isaiah: Yeah, and you are, not one of the first, but you are the first Giving Day that we have of the year so, that’s pretty cool.


Michelle: Kicking it off strong!


Isaiah: It is! Every year. Jackie, you mentioned what Michelle talked about which was getting that input from your audience, I think that’s a really good idea for like the reasons that you both said but also, it’s such a good way to engage in stewardship, like that’s a really good strategy for stewarding those donors, specifically the donors, after the Giving Day to kind of, you know, say like…listen, we appreciate your support but also we want this be a good experience for you always, going forward, and that’s only gonna drive…that’s gonna keep donors around, because one of the big things in fundraising in general which is, I’m not teaching anybody anything here by saying this, but, um…is getting new donors and keeping them.

And Giving Days are really good for getting new donors because you know, you have social ambassadors reaching out, like posting and using hashtags, and here’s a live stream, like sharing that out on social media and you get new engagement through all these new and different, exciting things, but then keeping those donors year over year is the big thing, that’s how you really build on the momentum and build on the success and that’s how Giving Days grow. So, taking a closer look at stewarding and doing things as you said, Michelle, like asking for their input, how did this platform work for you, like what things are you looking for, like…that is probably the best way to find out how you can make the experience better which will eventually drive engagement which will eventually make your Giving Day that much more successful.


Jackie: I totally agree. Love it!


Michelle: And people who are invested in a Giving Day will want to give their feedback, and then the people who are invested, will end up becoming those ambassadors. And that personal touch, like we even talked about, the personalization, it all like, ties together in a beautiful little circle. The stewardship, fundraising, engagement, it’s a trifecta I guess.


Isaiah: It is. Michelle, you mentioned that this year you increased social media engagement by like 10%, I’m just curious personally like, what does that mean? I guess first, how do you track social media engagement to know that it’s increased or not? 


Michelle: Well, that is a great question, so it’s a broad metric. And so the goals that I mentioned when we were talking about goals for CofC Day, were going to be more broad, because they were presented more so to all of the institutional advancement and our VP of Institutional Advancement. We weren’t drilling down specifically with like, marketing goals and our marketing team, at least the ones that I talked about today. And so, social media engagement, in general, we were measuring increases or decreases.

So, across all platforms, we like added everything together basically and were able to compare from like a year past of, these were…and we didn’t compile everything, like engagement and impressions, like we did all the same metric, but it would be basically looking at impressions or more so, engagements based on like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, of how people were liking this or replying, commenting on stories, so that’s more of like actual engagement more so than just impressions, but we’re still if we’re really getting into the details, can drill down on those things of impressions year over year, and see if there was an increase which also would show a general increase of engagement.

And so, our goal was 10%, but I don’t even…I’m sorry I didn’t look up the actual metric of what we got, it was well over 10%, thanks to our partnership with our Social Media Director and her posting on all of CofC’s main pages. It wasn’t just me asking like hey, could you post once, because the project’s coming from the annual giving office, right, like the College of Charleston, yes, it’s a priority to them, but they have lots of priorities to promote on their Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn pages, but she really took it by the reins and promoted on Twitter, on Instagram, on all the platforms, to help increase that overall engagement.

So I don’t know if that answers your question but it’s more of a broad metric based on what we saw in years past and we were kind of able to do something similar when measuring email engagement of like, adding together the emails, seeing the like, click-through rate or click to open rate, and comparing that to the one from last year. So those are broader metrics for talking about fundraising and marketing with someone who’s like, what’s the overview of the Giving Day, but if you want the drill down marketing metrics, I’ll talk to you another time, because I’m happy to go into those, too.


Isaiah: Yeah, I think a lot of that’s probably way over my head, not being on the marketing side of anything, um…it certainly sounds interesting, though. And yeah, I’m just like…I’m sure there are a lot of tools and stuff that you use, like Katie probably knows a lot about that stuff too being our Brand Ambassador, but yeah, I mean, I just never…I mean, I’m always curious like, how do you know what people are doing out there? But I guess it’s tracked in some way!


Katie: Social media is such a powerful tool, um, so that’s awesome that you got buy-in from your Social Media Director at the college to really push that, because that’s how people get their news now, if it’s not through email then it’s definitely through social media so those posts are important.


Michelle: Totally. It’s like if you don’t see it in the total fundraising dollars, at least I can prove the effectiveness in some other way.


Katie: Exactly. Before we close today, I’d like to again thank Michelle for sharing her Giving Day experience with us all today. It was inspiring to learn about how you were able to grow support around the College of Charleston in such an impactful way.

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Michelle: Thank you guys for having me!