This is a live-blogged post during the 2012 CASE Social Media conference.
Andrew's session kicked off with a case study.
Cornell Annual Fund Campaign 2010
Plan - Create a campaign so compelling that no Cornellian can resist. The campaign would be situated within Facebook and the participation would be observed by friends, family, etc. and therefore it would go viral. (Of course!)
Backstory - There is a building on campus that has 161 steps and everyone knows this fact. In 2005 a list of 161 things every Cornellian must do was created and received much publicity. Why not capitilize on that success? A Facebook ad was created based on this list and when you click the link it takes you to a quiz so you can answer how many items on the list you've done on the list.
The Ask - “Have you taken step 162? Make a gift to Cornell!”
Results - A total of 3 gifts totaling $1000. The ad cartoons alone cost $1000. The ad was paid for on a per-click basis and the click totals were higher than anticipated and the budget was used up almost overnight.
Success? As an engagement mechanism, this was a great success. As a fundraising effort, this was a complete failure.
“What is the strategic use of social media in fundraising? I am still convinced that worrying about the bottom line isn’t possible yet.”
Unique aspects of alumni engagement in higher ed and independent schools:
With class and club programming we have become really good at engaging alumni where they are. The problem? There is now a new "place."
The stable and productive status quo is no longer effective. The reality is you now have to be active in the social space in order to be effective in the social space.
Alumni are used to organizing themselves around affinity.
Here is a look at Cornell Alumni Populations:
Let's talk strategy. We must convert more of our potential community members into "actual" members of our community. And then mobilize them.
The Cornell Alumni Association Facebook community is just as real as the Cornell Class of 1964. You must invest as much time and effort to learn about the virtual community as you do the real-life community. Without doing this you have no credibility. Your online community manager is another alumni engagement officer.
The Online to Offline Engagement Cycle
"Alumni are living there lives in the online and offline world. The engagement strategy must take this into account. All we can be sure of is that they'll want to shift between the two worlds and in each space we provide an engagement experience appropriate for the needs of the community and the space itself."
There are opportunities for synergy in the online and offline communities. For example, graduating seniors should join the Facebook Alumni Association for your instituiton. (Hey, this addresses the challenge of getting contact information for young alumni!) Or live-stream some of your reunion weekend for those who can't make it.
Higher Ed Examples
The Bucky Challenge at the University of Wisconsin. An alumni offered matching gifts up to $30,000. For each new Facebook or Twitter follower, $1 was donated to a scholarship fund. While this isn't sustainable, it is interesting and worked reasonably well. 19,432 "likes" were generated and $19,432 went into the scholarship fund.
John's Hopkins University: Modeled on fantasy football, people "draft" who they'd like to see at the 2012 reunion. The person who gets the most points will win an iPad. You earn points by getting people to sign up and added points when people donate. Great example of gamification and experimenting with content.
Middlebury's MiddSTART: This is the Middlebury's version of Kickstart. They identified a number of projects and how much money is needed. They visibly keep track how many dollars have been raised and the deadline. Here's a great example of taking advantage of an alternative model of fundraising.
Simply put: The potential power of online communities is outstanding. Don't limit yourself to just thinking about the bottom line when you think about the power of social media in alumni affairs and fundraising.