Bringing Homecoming to Young Alumni (in a Box)

Posted on 01/01/2021

One of the traditions that takes place around spring homecoming at the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the Spirit Splash, where students run into a reflecting pond on campus and members of the student government toss them rubber ducks branded with the school logo. The ducks have become a collector’s item for UCF students and alumni over the years.

Amid the pandemic last spring, however, the university wasn’t able to hold traditional in-person homecoming events, including the Spirit Splash. Instead of forgoing the tradition altogether, UCF’s annual giving and alumni relations teams decided to incorporate the concept into their outreach to alumni by creating “Spirit Boxes” as a gift incentive. They viewed it as a way to bring homecoming to recent grads—and generate financial support for the university to boot.

The box itself (see a picture below) served as its own package with the address printed on the bottom. Inside the box were two rubber ducks, a black stainless steel “tailgate” cup with an embossed UCF logo, a metallic black and gold pom-pom, and a letter asking alumni to support the annual fund. To make all the items stay in place, the box was stuffed with black crinkle paper.

Initially, solicitations were sent only to those young alumni who had donated to their senior class gift campaign when they were students. The goal was to utilize the box as an incentive to inspire them to continue giving as alumni. But after seeing a positive response to the initial mailing, the team decided to solicit an expanded audience that included young alumni who had never made a gift before.

The effort proved to be a big success. It helped raise more than $17,000—most of which went to support athletics. Of the gifts UCF received, 8.5% of the gifts were from past senior class gift donors and 10% were from young alumni making their first gift ever. All in all, more than 50% of donors were age 30 or younger.


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