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SDSU Giving Day Changes Lead to Big Wins

In 2020, South Dakota State University (SDSU) was mounting its fourth One Day for STATE giving day celebration—in a pandemic no less—with ambitious goals to tackle. The team wanted to raise $1.5M from over 4,000 donors—more dollars and more donors than ever before. Past giving days had shown that One Day for STATE was the primary channel for acquiring first-time donors who then went on to give again on a subsequent giving day; the stakes were high.

When One Day for STATE 2020 wrapped up, SDSU celebrated its most successful giving day ever, raising over $1.6M from 4,888 donors, 40% of whom were first-time givers.

Achieving such success was the direct result of cross-campus collaboration and strong leadership as well as integrated strategies and powerful giving day tools. For the annual giving team, their efforts started early on with helping campus partners understand the significance of the annual giving day and how it can help the colleges, schools, and programs (including athletics and student groups) achieve their goals. By providing them with their own spaces to fundraise on the giving day platform, which was powered by BWF/{{firstname}}, they saw the benefit of promoting the day on their own social media channels and using the platform to raise funds and unlock challenges. In fact, campus collaborators who promoted the day throughout the year on social media were able to warm their constituents before activating them on the giving day.

As Erin Glidden, director of loyalty giving at the SDSU Foundation, observed, “Those who promote on their social media year-round, as opposed to the ‘build and they will come’ approach, are more successful. And the more students are involved in ‘grassroots’ content marketing throughout the year, the better those units will perform during One Day for STATE.”

To prepare for the giving day and lay the foundation for success, campus collaborators were invited to virtual giving day workshops during which case studies were shared to provide context and options, brainstorming sessions surfaced ideas, and participants were instructed on how to optimize the tools and resources available to them.


On the actual One Day for STATE in September, the giving day platform updated the challenges in real time, the same as the number of donors and dollars. This combination of real-time updates and inspirational challenges provided the urgency that is critical for a giving day. The importance of those dynamic challenges was a key part of the day’s success. “The Hubbub giving day platform knows if someone is making a gift that applies to multiple challenges and if they are a student or an alum. That’s something we wouldn’t be able todo without the Hubbub giving day platform,” explains Glidden. The platform also provides one of the best ambassador integrations in giving day technology, incorporates a leaderboard to inspire competition among ambassadors, and provides gamification to engage donors (for instance, people vying to be the first or last donor on a challenge).

One Day for STATE in 2020 engaged social ambassadors who used their social media and email to activate their own networks, university-branded swag (like “Flat Jack,” a cardboard cutout of the beloved mascot that people were encouraged to take selfies with and then share), a scholarship challenge that unlocked $10,000 if 100 students made gifts, and a virtual block party that garnered more than 2,700 views.

The Hubbub platform has been an integral part of the success of past online giving days for SDSU. That platform is part of a larger strategy that involves outreach well before the giving day itself and utilizes a multichannel approach for communications preceding, during, and after the event. The Loyalty Giving team is now well prepared to launch giving day events that generate excitement and ignite engagement. “We needed a giving day platform that echoed the urgency of our communications ,noted Glidden. “The {{firstname}} platform allows us to activate our best giving day strategies in a way others’ do not. It will continue to be key to future One Day for STATE events.” 

"The {{firstname}} platform allows us to activate our best giving day strategies in a way others’ do not. It will continue to be key to future One Day for STATE events.​"

—Erin Glidden
Director of Loyalty Giving, SDSU Foundation

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