Alumni Generated Content: #ThankuMarquetteU

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Alumni have remarkable stories of their alma mater. Unfortunately, finding these captivating experiences and effectively communicating them to a large community is not easy. Yet, the advancement and marketing and communication offices at Marquette University have collaborated to accomplish the above in a social campaign entitled #ThankuMarquetteU.

In short, #ThankuMarquetteU uses a combination of Twitter and Tumblr to let alumni share their favorite campus memories and to tell how their alma mater has played a major role in their life. In particular, Marquette also uses the hashtag #thankuthursday as a way to promote consistent weekly submissions.

We checked in with Tim Cigelske, Senior Communication Specialist, and Michael Kelly, Advancement Officer for Young Alumni and Student Giving, to learn more.

What Inspired #ThankuMarquetteU?
TIM: I was inspired by some of the clever Tumblr-powered microsites that give you a new suggestion or idea whenever you refresh the page. Our twist on these popular microsites would be collecting quotes from students and alumni saying what about Marquette they’re most thankful for, and you get a different reason every time you refresh the page. Our web and IT team did a great job to set up a custom Tumblr theme for this purpose. We called it “Thank U @MarquetteU,” which is a play on the name of our Twitter account, where we collected much of the content to start.

MICHAEL: The idea to start using donor quotes and thanking donors on social media came primarily from a webinar on generational stewardship. The host spoke about using social media to thank millennial donors, which caught my eye as a good idea. Also, the American Red Cross’s twitter account has used the hashtag #thankuthursday periodically to thank blood donors. I wanted to do this weekly, so #thankuthursday worked for me.

In your words, how does #thankuthursday work?

MICHAEL: We focus primarily on loyal young alumni donors (0-10 years out of school) who have supported Marquette at least 2-3 times since their graduation. I either find them through researching our alumni database or ask my advancement colleagues for recommendations. Once we have identified a donor, I email them explaining the program. I ask for a quote on why they have chosen to support Marquette, and a picture to share on Facebook. Once I hear back from the donors, I forward all the information to Tim and select a Thursday to post.

What type of results has your office seen? In giving or engagement?

TIM: From a social media standpoint, this carries a lot of weight because people are seeing their peers talk, in their own words, about why Marquette is important to them and why they gave. Every time I post something, I see comments, retweets, reblogs, etc from the donors’ friends who are happy to see them featured in this spotlight. It builds community and school pride.

MICHAEL: I view this primarily as a stewardship vehicle for a constituency (young alumni) that appreciates a more public form of recognition. It is, for the most part, an easy way to profile some of our most loyal young donors, and it definitely provides role models for our alumni and students, both of whom make up the vast majority of Marquette’s social media following. We have received comments from alumni on how proud they are that the next generation of alumni are supporting Marquette – which helps build a culture of philanthropy on campus and with our alumni.


How does your school gather stories from alumni? Have you ever considered building a micro-site with Tumblr? Let us know!

A special thanks to Tim & Michael for their responses.


Looking to build a stronger social presence at your school this Fall? Check out the Loomis Chaffee Social Media Play Book.

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