Fly Your Flag
If you happened to be in or around Chicago last March, you may have noticed a lot of Marquette flags flying about. That’s because Marquette University’s annual giving team, in conjunction with National Marquette Day, was testing something new.
“We wanted to boost donor participation,” says Angela Krainz, a Senior Advancement Officer at Marquette, “so we offered a 3×5 Marquette flag to anyone who donated $60 or more. We focused our effort on Chicago because of the concentrated number of alumni, parents, and prospective students in that area.”
They kicked off the campaign with a postcard (see below) that drove donors to a web page where they could make a gift to the fund of their choice. They also promoted the campaign through Facebook ads and email. The effort generated nearly $30,000 and over 300 donors (a 1.8% response rate). For nearly 20% of the donors, this was their first gift to Marquette.
“We were really surprised by how many parents participated,” said Krainz. Nearly 25% of the donors were current and past parents. In fact, they decided to run the flag promotion later in the year to all current parents, regardless of location, so that they could have a flag to give to their student as a holiday present.
They acknowledge that not every premium-based campaign turns out to be a success. Next time, they may focus more of their efforts online – possibly limiting it to a 24-hour time frame, incorporating a giving challenge, or asking donors to share photos of their flag on display through social media.
“We only received positive feedback,” says Krainz. “Marquette alumni have a strong affinity for the university. They loved the fact they could get something to show their pride and help the university at the same time.”
Marquette’s compliance with the IRS’s regulations was simplified because they required a minimum donation and rewarded donors with a “token item” that contained their logo. The current quid pro quo guidelines are available online from the IRS.
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