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Saint Mary’s College Sparks Alumnae Engagement Through 24-hour Donor Challenge

Saint Mary’s College, a women’s liberal arts college in Notre Dame, Indiana, hosted its first 24-hour Donor Challenge in 2013. After many years of success, the Saint Mary’s team was searching for a sophisticated technology partner. They wanted a platform that could help take their event to the next level without sacrificing their commitment to creating a positive user experience for their alumnae.

Saint Mary’s joined GiveGab in preparation for their 2021 Giving Day. During their most recent 24-hour Challenge on February 22, 2022, the college raised over $1.15 Million and reached 4,559 donors!

Danielle Mason, Director of Annual Giving, and Kayla Thomas, Associate Director of Annual Giving, at Saint Mary’s College identified three areas that the GiveGab platform helped advance the success of their 24-hour Donor Challenge:

  • Access timely and reliable data
  • Enhancements to the ambassador and donor experiences
  • Ability to grow the Donor Challenge at scale

Access timely and reliable data

Before joining GiveGab, the Saint Mary’s team worked with a technology provider that could not offer access to reliable, accurate, and quick data. Danielle and Kayla were often not able to celebrate milestones and accomplishments in real-time because they would need to run a report, analyze the results, and verify their accuracy before they could share the news with others. This limited their ability to take advantage of the urgency of the day, and presented confusion amongst their supporters.

With GiveGab’s robust reporting tools and administrative dashboard, the Saint Mary’s team always had a clear picture of how the 24-hour Donor Challenge was performing. They were able to gear up for special announcements and confidently celebrate with their audiences when the college reached any significant milestones.  

“With GiveGab, we no longer have to run a report to see the progress of our Giving Day. The numbers are updated in real-time and quick analysis makes a huge difference!  We base our goals around where we are hitting milestones every year, and being able to create a plan based on accurate data has been a big improvement since moving to a platform that we love.” – Danielle Mason 

Enhancements to the ambassador and donor experiences

As the Donor Challenge grew, Danielle and Kayla were interested in new tools and features that would provide a better user experience for both their ambassadors and donors.


The Saint Mary’s team was able to leverage GiveGab’s peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) tools to successfully empower their ambassadors to raise funds on behalf of the school.

GiveGab coordinated with the Saint Mary’s team to host a 1-hour training in which ambassadors were shown how to create their profiles and implement best practices and strategies. Ambassadors were also able to use this time to ask any questions to the GiveGab team regarding their fundraising page, which empowered them to connect successfully with their networks.

We were excited to have this training opportunity for ambassadors to learn how easy it is. They were able to explore deeper into how they can use GiveGab’s tools to better engage with their communities and encourage support for Donor Challenge.” – Danielle Mason

Saint Mary’s Fundraising Ambassador Program proved to successfully bring new donors to the site. During their 2021 Donor Challenge 23 ambassadors raised funds, this grew to 27 in 2022! Over the past two years, ambassadors have connected 276 donors to the college, bringing in a total of $72,725.


The Saint Mary’s Team wanted to ensure it was as easy as possible for their alumnae and community to give back in fun and engaging ways. On GiveGab, the checkout process is simple, secure, and mobile-friendly, allowing Danielle and Kayla to confidently provide more giving options to their donors.

New in 2022, the Saint Mary’s team was excited to roll out their Alumna and Student leaderboards which included a participation percentage for each class year. This allowed donors to see the full picture of how their class was stacking up amongst others. Besides a way to create some fun competition during the Giving Day, the leaderboards highlighted the collective impact these donor groups have made on Saint Mary’s College and demonstrated that every gift plays an important role in allowing Saint Mary’s to reach their goal.

“We also have a pretty healthy population of alumnae who work at Saint Mary’s so that always makes it more fun on campus to, they are pretty competitive and engaged.” – Kayla Thomas 

The Saint Mary’s team continues to see high donor turnout during their Donor Challenge. During their most recent event, 4,559 donors supported the college, collectively raising over $1.15 million.

Ability to grow the Donor Challenge at scale

With all great fundraising events, there are administrative costs that need to be considered. While coordinating an online Giving Day can significantly reduce those costs, they still play a signficant role in how you can grow your efforts.

A solution recommended to the Saint Mary’s team by GiveGab was to allow donors the ability to cover all processing fees when making their gift. During the checkout process, donors were given option to cover any processing fee and provided detailed information as to how doing this would further the impact of their gift and alleviate costs from Saint Mary’s College’s budget.

In both their 2021 and 2022 campaigns, 63% of donors selected the option to cover their fees. They were also proud to report 71% of all gifts made had fee coverage. Over the two years, this has equated to $59,747 in fee coverage.

“When we began researching Giving Day platforms, we weren’t looking for fee coverage; however, when GiveGab introduced us to this feature [on the donation form], we could immediately see the benefits of implementing it on our Giving Day. Fee coverage had a tremendous impact in alleviating some of the financial strains that processing donations made by credit cards can have on our budget. It also allowed us to educate our donors on the overall impact of their gift from an operations standpoint.” – Danielle Mason

When asked if Saint Mary’s team had any final advice to similar-sized colleges considering hosting a Giving Day with GiveGab, Kayla shared: 

“Our advice to smaller colleges hoping to work with GiveGab is to be really transparent about the capacity of your school. With all that is offered, we first thought that working with GiveGab would be outside of our budget and were disappointed because they were exactly what we were looking for. We were straightforward about what we were able to afford, and the Engagement Team was able to customize a contract and a package that worked for us and included everything we needed and more!” – Kayla Thomas, Associate Director of Annual Giving

Topics Covered in this Case Study Include:

  • A brief overview of Saint Mary’s College and its history of hosting its annual 24-hour Donor Challenge.
  • The importance of fostering relationships with alumnae and supporters through a donor-centric Giving Day
  • Kayla and Danielle’s experience working with a dedicated Project Manager and support team
  • The impact of having access to real-time data had on the success of the 24-hour Donor Challenge
  • Ways that the GiveGab platform helped Saint Mary’s College enhance the ambassador and donor experience.
  • The success Saint Mary’s saw from allowing donors to cover transaction fees
  • Advice to smaller colleges considering hosting a Giving Day with GiveGab

Read more about how Saint Mary’s College continues to spark Alumnae Engagement Through its 24-hour Donor Challenge.