The Australian National University – 75 Hour Giving Day Web Platform

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Title75 Hour Giving Day Web Platform
InstitutionThe Australian National University
Submitted ByJacqueline Coughlin
Senior Annual Giving Officer (Digital Fundraising)
CategorySpecial Campaigns/Challenges
Institution TypeCollege / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur?2021

ANU Giving Day - 75 hours of Giving

This year’s Giving Day appeal was part of the celebrations of the University's 75th anniversary. It included a custom-built Giving Day platform and integrated marketing effort, highlighting “the power of us” and celebrating the Donor and Alumni community.

What makes this unique

For the first time, ANU commissioned a customised and interactive Giving Day platform which included a live tally and countdown of funds raised and number of donations for the overall appeal and each individual fund, and the ability to set challenge funds to the overall appeal and specific funds.

The platform, which was at the centre of the appeal, received positive feedback in its look and feel and ease of navigation and use. It counted donations in real time and encouraged users to help move closer or beyond certain goals (i.e. funds raised or unlocking challenge funds). Representing the appeals’ theme “the power of us”, the platform empowered the donor to visibly influence the result, while witnessing the power of the entire community getting together and exceeding the appeals’ goal. Further, it showcased the 24 funds, while simplifying navigation to them with the ability to filter by area (University wide or a specific College) and search for keywords or fund names, all in the look of the recently refreshed ANU brand. The platform was built by Blackbaud in Australia, which meant that for the first time ever, the Giving Day appeal had technical support during Australian business hours.

Giving Day was supported by other communication channels, including eight Electronic Direct Mails (EDM), a comprehensive social media campaign across the 75 hours, editorial content in local digital publications, internal communications, and a call room. It was the first time that editorial content was included in a publication outside of the University, using advertising features across their respective social media channels. Publishing a donor profile in “HerCanberra”, a local publication to Canberra, which included content on why that donor gives back on Giving Day and a call to action to the community to support the appeal, reached a broader audience beyond the traditional alumni and donor community. In collaboration with the Donor Relations team of ANU, ThankView, a platform that allows thank you videos to be emailed directly to donors, took a central place in the stewardship activities. Working with colleagues across the University, student, academic and alumni volunteers were recruited to film thank you videos for funds they relate to, so that donors to these funds received a customised thank you message that demonstrates the impact of their gift.

The EDMs were consistently promoting the “power of us” idea and inspired the biggest gift to Giving Day yet, a $30,000 donation. The donor was impressed with the platform and ease of choosing a fund to give to and was able to process the $30,000 donation through the platform in a matter of seconds. The personalised ThankView message to this donor then inspired him to give another $10,000 through the platform.

Due to COVID related lockdowns and quickly changing restrictions in Australia, Giving Day saw a call room of 20 student callers operate entirely remotely for the first time in its history. Student callers focused on outreach and engagement, while inviting alumni and donors to participate. Overcoming IT and software challenges, the student callers received lots of positive feedback and support from donors and alumni, who genuinely enjoyed connecting during these unusual circumstances.

The remote call room is running until the end of October and the platform is continuing to accept donations until then.


The Australian National University (ANU) ran its first Giving Day in 2015. Since then Giving Day has grown from raising $50,000 from its donor and alumni community to a large-scale appeal, raising in excess of $120,000.

This years’ appeal was closely aligned with the University’s 75th anniversary. The goal was to raise $75,000 across 24 funds in 75 hours. On the second day, this goal was met and a stretch goal of $100,000 was set, which again was exceeded within the last day of the appeal. By the end of Giving Day, $122,000 from 361 donations were raised, including 19 leadership gifts (donations between $1,000 and $50,000).

The 24 funds included in this appeal represented all areas of the University, from unrestricted College funds to scholarships. The donor-centric approach taken showcased the support that can be achieved from the University’s community when allowed to choose the area(s) that align with their values and interests.

Comparatively, in 2019 Giving Day raised $72,300 over 24 hours and offered support to one fund only. This showed that stretching Giving Day beyond the traditional 24 hours and offering a greater choice of areas to support is a great opportunity to create buzz and engagement in a market that is still new to Giving Days in higher education (Australia) and recovering from the financial implications of the COVID pandemic.