Arcadia University: How to raise $315,000 in exactly 1,853 minutes

Arcadia Community Rises to the Challenge on UKnightedTuesday. Arcadia University is a top-ranked private university offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

We talked about our goals for UKnightedTuesday and what we wanted to see in our website, and Anthology worked with us to really make it come to life.

– Erin McLaughlin, Associate Director of Strategic Advancement Communications, Arcadia University

The Challenges

Commemorating the year the university was founded, its UKnightedTuesday fundraising event on December 1, 2020, which occurred on Giving Tuesday, was live for exactly 1853 minutes.

For an event that dates back to 2015 in support of the university’s annual fund, athletics, student scholarships and other important student success initiatives, the 2020 event saw a lot of firsts. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the entire world, this was the first time UKnightedTuesday would be an entirely virtual experience. Would the giving community continue to dig deep in these challenging and uncertain times? Would Arcadia’s event website and marketing tools support an all-virtual event?

“We were using a different platform for our email communications and donation forms last year,” recalls Erin McLaughlin, Arcadia’s associate director of strategic advancement communications. “For me, from a communications standpoint, I was doing coding, and I’m not a computer programmer. It was very time-consuming.”

What’s more, the UKnightedTuesday website last year could only go live the day of the event. A separate WordPress website had to be created for promotions leading up to UKnightedTuesday. The website also had limited functionality. “I couldn’t create leaderboards or highlight different challenges,” says Erin. “It was very basic: just a landing page and progress bar.”

About

Arcadia University

Institution Type: 4-Year Private

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Student Population: 6,700

Alumni Population: 26,000

The Solutions

After the 2019 event, Arcadia decided to implement Anthology’s Encompass solution to power UKnightedTuesday 2020, including the event website, content management, email marketing and online giving.

Expert Support from a Committed Partner

Before implementing the UKnightedTuesday website, Anthology’s professional services team met with Arcadia throughout the summer to create a blueprint for a successful online event. “We talked about our goals for UKnightedTuesday and what we wanted to see in our website, and Anthology worked with us to really make it come to life,” says Erin.

Robust Event Website and Online Experience

The biggest change from last year’s event was the impact of the pandemic. What had been an on campus and online experience in previous years, would now be fully online. “We knew from a technology standpoint, that the online experience needed to appeal to the entire alumni and giving community and enable them to log in and make gifts easily during the day,” says Durice White, Arcadia’s associate vice president of alumni engagement and annual giving strategies.

The Encompass-powered website enabled Arcadia to:

  • Build excitement leading up to UKnightedTuesday
  • Create a centralized hub for the entire giving community the day of the event
  • Engage constituents live over Zoom and through Facebook and Instagram stories
  • Convert the site to a stewardship center after the event, thanking donors and announcing results. Even those who missed the event could view a recording of the event and make donations

We knew from a technology standpoint, that the online experience needed to appeal to the entire alumni and giving community and enable them to log in and make gifts easily during the day.”

– Durice White Galloway, Arcadia’s associate vice president of alumni engagement and annual giving strategies.

Insights Delivered

Challenges and Leaderboards

Arcadia ran a total of six challenges and worked with donors ahead of time to build matching-gift incentives and boost participation in UKnightedTuesday. With Anthology’s Encompass platform, the alumni and advancement teams created leaderboard pages for each of the challenges, where supporters could track the progress of the funds they were supporting. “Leaderboards were a new piece for me, and Anthology was there to support us with this new functionality,” adds Erin.

Segmented Email Campaigns

With Encompass, the event team could segment email campaigns and create highly targeted, hierarchical communications. “We were able to segment our email campaigns based on the challenge; that really helped us in communicating those challenges to the right audience,” says Erin.

With the pandemic, we weren’t sure about people’s capacity for giving, but we are really happy with the results.”

– Erin McLaughlin, associate director of strategic advancement communications.

Transformative results

1,853 Minutes. One UKnighted Community. 315,949+ Dollars.

Raising the bar from last year’s pace-setting total of $129,077, Arcadia set an ambitious goal of $200,000 for UKnightedTuesday 2020. Exactly 1,853 minutes later, they had raised more than $315,000, exceeded its goal by more than $115,000.

$30k

Black Alumni Association Travel Fund

Raised almost $30,000 from more than 100 donors, compared with $20,000 donors from 20 donors the previous year.

$10k

Early-Bird Challenge

100 donors made donations by 9:30 a.m., achieving the challenge goal and unlocking an additional $10,000.

$5k

Reunion Challenge and Match

Achieved goal of $5,000.