Fa-la-la-la-Virtual Engagement This Year?

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In our line of work, everyday is an adventure. Our colleagues in the advancement world are always finding creative ways to foster virtual engagement with their alumni network, and this keeps us inspired and on our toes at EverTrue. Now more than ever, this current virtual world that we live in as a result of COVID-19 has brought about clever changes to the way our partners are engaging with donors.

Now here we are, 9 months from the start of this remote working world, facing our first ever virtual holiday season. Fret not, though, who said holiday cheer cannot be spread through Zoom? Not us!

Our partners have shown immense innovation and creativity with their virtual engagement, proving to us all that strong communities can be cultivated through a virtual medium. In light of this holiday season, we’re excited to share how our customers have been engaging with donors in festive, virtual ways this year.

Cornell University

Cornell University has been creating a strong network through virtual engagement, particularly through the magic of culinary arts. Food always seems to bring us closer together, and the Alumni Affairs team at Cornell has mastered this. During the month of November, they offered Friendsgiving engagement content to all alumni, which included a crowd-sourced cookbook, streaming video content, a baking competition, AND a live dumpling-making class.

The results? They had an optional donation on the event registration for the dumpling event, which raised over $6K from nearly 250 donors, fundraising money that went toward a student grocery program. What a wholesome way to create community and give back this holiday season. Fun fact – Cornell sent a text message about the event, including a “foodie” segment that was sourced by EverTrue enriched interest data. We love to see our platform being used creatively during this festive season!

Bellarmine University

Our colleagues at Bellarmine University are sharing the holiday cheer through virtual engagement with their alumni network, too. The Development and Special Events Team alongside the Office of Marketing and Communications hosted a plethora of fun-filled virtual events at their Holiday Knights 2020 event. In attendance: the Bellarmine Community of Alumni, parents, donors, and students.

Holiday Knights

Chock-full of festive virtual events, Holiday Knights engaged the Bellarmine community through a series of holiday how-to videos, including beautiful festive music lessons and carols, a recorded Christmas Eve Mass, tree lighting, storytime with Mrs. Claus, to scrumptious cookie and cocktail recipes, craft ideas, and more! They spread some Bellarmine holiday cheer, and their Bellarmine community is feeling the yuletide love near and far.

Virginia Tech 

This holiday season, we’re all spending a bit of extra time at home, which means, naturally, we’re paying more attention to our socks. That’s right, socks that make you smile are trending now, and with National Sock Day wedged right in the middle of the holiday season, Virginia Tech wanted to take advantage.

Virginia Tech is constantly crafting up new ways to engage, solicit, and thank their donors. In 2019, they created a micro-campaign centered from Cyber Monday through National Sock Day, which led with puns and humor to catch the attention of donors in a fun and unique way. The result? Over 2,400 gifts (wow!)

This year, they built upon that success by partnering with the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management to have students design the socks which Hokie Nation would vote on. Nearly 10,000 people voted in the first week alone, and this momentum coupled with student participation led to a three day micro-campaign around Giving Tuesday focused on the primary design, “Sunrise on the Drillfield.” A surprise encore was listed on National Sock Day (December 4th), with limited quantities of other student sock designs to support their Student Scholarship Annual Fund.

Octopus Socks

In total, there were over 7,600 gifts from Hokies all over the world, supporting the areas they love at Virginia Tech, sporting socks that were designed by students.

Virginia Tech staff members Heather Kopec, Jimmy Moore, Stephen Milleson, and a whole team of collaborators credit humor and levity as the driving force for this successful virtual engagement endeavor. Let’s just say that they’ve really knocked our socks off with this campaign! 

Boston University School of Law

At BU School of Law, they’re embracing virtual gatherings with alumni near and far. With a schedule of events that you won’t want to miss – especially from the comfort of your home, they have structured the festivities so that donors can gather as a larger group and also with their graduating class. You will find the full list of festivities online!

Let’s not forget one key component of alumni gathering – the swag! In a less conventional (but very trendy) way, BU offered up virtual swag through discount codes, giving participants as much as 20% off on logo items from Barnes and Noble. Participants can also download BU Law virtual Zoom backgrounds, send a greeting to a classmate or professor, and also access shared recipes from a BU Law professor. These are just a few of the many ways they have spread holiday cheer this year!

To welcome participation across the country, Lillian Bicchieri of Alumni Relations and event organizers were very creative with this graphic on their webpage, which encourages donors to represent their state and join in on festivities!

Participation Map

Other customers are keeping traditions strong with festive greeting cards sent to donors near and far. 

There’s nothing like a friendly note in the mail, especially while spending much more time at home this year. In the chilly, wintery wonderland of Ithaca, New York, our colleagues at Ithaca College have been keeping up with the holiday momentum. Working with their Marketing Team and a community of involved staff at Ithaca College, they sent out printed cards to principal donors. 

Similarly, at Brandeis University International Business School in Waltham, MA they are sending warm holidays wishes with a special focus on cultural agility. This November, the Director of the India Initiative, Professor Debarshi Nandy sent a message to all alumni based in India in recognition and celebration of Diwali, a very important holiday in India.

The messaging was well-received by their alumni in India. The message also led to additional conversations about a new, more formal and inclusive approach to acknowledging meaningful holidays at the school representing the global nature of the International Business School’s alumni and students. We appreciate the school’s globally-minded approach to celebratory messaging!

With all that’s going on in the world, we know the holidays look different this year. At EverTrue, we’re managing to find our bright spots, spread good vibes, and use the networking tools at our fingertips to stay connected with our Advancement colleagues more than ever. We encourage you to do the same, especially as we wrap up this year and look forward to all that awaits us in 2021.

Check out our resource library of remote work resources, best practices, and customer stories!

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