Western Kentucky University – Day of Caring Engagement Campaign

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TitleDay of Caring Engagement Campaign
InstitutionWestern Kentucky University
Submitted ByCarol Cummings
Director of Communication, Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement
CategorySpecial Campaigns/Challenges
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2020
Description

WKU's inaugural Day of Caring, held April 9, 2020, brought together Hilltoppers around the globe and celebrated the connections made because of WKU. A secondary focus was on opportunities to help WKU students whose ability to complete the semester was impacted by the economic realities of COVID-19.

What makes this unique

We had planned for our inaugural Day of Giving, initially set for April 21, 2020, for nearly one year. Theme, branding, content and a multi-channel marketing and communication plan had been carefully outlined and were in the process of being finalized. With just over a month to go, COVID-19 altered all that we had planned for Day of Giving and WKU’s plans for the rest of the semester. During the last week of March, we realized that the Day of Giving we had planned for was no longer the message we wanted to send to our campus community and donors. Instead, we wanted to find a way to bring together Hilltoppers around the globe and celebrate the connections made because of WKU. We knew many members of the WKU Family were adapting to new situations where they were disconnected from loved ones and friends, and we wanted to highlight the ways in which we could still connect and interact. We decided to refocus on a Day of Caring to best represent support for our students and community during this challenging time.

Day of Caring required a new strategy including theme, content, graphics, new giving form and a multi-channel marketing and communication plan for our team and campus partners. We completely turned our carefully crafted strategy on its head in just two weeks’ time, launching what became our most successful and most-engaging project of this type to date. Day of Caring offered an opportunity to reminisce about favorite WKU memories and meet new friends over social media, and Hilltoppers from around the globe joined in to share stories, memories and photos.

Our revised landing page included content explaining the day, how we wanted alumni and friends to get involved on social media and information about the specific funds we focused on for fundraising in response to COVID-19. The landing page featured a social toolkit that offered a profile picture frame; cover photos for social channels; and sample social posts including ideas to give encouragement and advice for the Class of 2020, share the faculty, staff or fellow Hilltopper who shaped their WKU experience and post throwback photos or new photos of lifelong WKU connections. A Frequently Asked Questions page answered typical online giving questions and provided background on Day of Caring.

While we focused efforts on celebrating Hilltopper connections, we had a secondary focus on opportunities for alumni and friends who were able to help WKU students whose ability to complete the semester was challenged by the economic realities of this time. Emergency Student Assistance through the WKU Opportunity Fund, WKU Alumni Initiatives Fund and the WKU Food Pantry, part of the Office of Sustainability, were highlighted on Day of Caring because they were providing emergency assistance for unexpected financial needs including housing and meal assistance, loss of income, technology needs to complete alternative delivery of courses for students and other expenses. All solicitations were considered a soft ask, and content explicitly stated that alumni and friends were asked to make a gift “if they were able.”

Our Integrated Marketing & Appeals team created and implemented a multifaceted communication plan and actively engaged with social throughout the day. In the midst of adapting to working remotely and caring for families and friends in everchanging times, our WKU community pulled together to make this day about our unique bonds and our efforts to help one another.

A summary video can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED4nNOxOC0A.

Outcome

We consider Day of Caring extremely successful, especially through increased engagement across our social channels. Our multi-channel communication plan included Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Through social media aggregation tools, we reported more than 4.7 million impressions on Twitter. We also reached 7,000 followers on Twitter during Day of Caring, and we marked this achievement with a social post. For Facebook, impressions increased 173% and post link clicks increased 264% for the month of April. On Instagram, impressions increased 334%, engagements increased 126% and profile actions increased 247% for the month of April. On Day of Caring, the University received 258 gifts from 332 donors totaling $49,553. This includes 21 first-time donors. In addition to buy-in from our central University Marketing team, every college on campus and many other departments and entities participated in the Day of Caring messaging. This helped our team build relationships across campus for future partnerships. It was a unifying day, and the University community was very happy with the engagement and pride shown for our current students and community at large.