Counting Volunteer Hours in Campaign Achievement

Posted on 08/01/2019

If you’re like so many other advancement professionals, you may feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that’s expected of you. And your constituents more than likely feel the same way. Always having too much to do—and not enough time to do it—is what makes it particularly special when someone is willing to give a significant amount of his or her time to help your organization.

That’s why, when Boston University launched its first public capital fundraising campaign, it set out not only to raise significant philanthropic support, but also to utilize creative strategies for engaging its entire community in the effort. While many alumni and parents would participate in the campaign by making gifts, involving students presented a larger challenge. Knowing that most students would not be in the position to make significant monetary gifts, the university found a way for these key constituents to contribute to the campaign without opening their wallets.

Soon after the campaign launched, BU students collectively made a pledge to complete one million hours of community service before the campaign ended. To put this into perspective, the million-hour goal is equivalent to one person volunteering nonstop for over 100 years. The idea was inspired by a commitment from the then-student union president who, prior to the launch of the campaign, pledged one hour of community service for each undergraduate student.

As the campaign got underway, students were able to participate through a variety of volunteer programs, including the student-run Community Service Center, the First-Year Student Outreach Project, Alternative Spring Break, and any service performed in conjunction with Greek life, religious groups, clubs or student organizations. The administration even developed a mobile app that allowed students to log their service hours in real time and track overall progress toward the goal.

In campaigns—as well as in life—the investment of personal time and talent can be invaluable. Measuring these investments as part of an overall campaign goal provides a more comprehensive appraisal of a campaign’s true impact. Additionally, finding opportunities to harvest time in productive and meaningful ways can offset some of your own time and resource limitations, while planting the seed for other forms of support in the future.


This article has been adapted from the book Ideas for Annual Giving by Dan Allenby. Copyright (c) 2016 Council for Advancement and Support of Education. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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