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How a College Used Social Media to Raise $465k in One Day

Using social media is nothing new in the fundraising arena, but every once in a while a successful campaign stands out.

Wabash College, a small men's school in Indiana, recently raised $465,421 in a single day.

On 4/30/14, they launched their "Wabash Day of Giving," and quickly harnessed the power of social media to reach current and former students. The #Wabash430 hashtag was trending on Twitter in the Indianapolis area, notching over 694 unique mentions throughout the day. Wabash also reported 13,000 Facebook page views on 4/30.

So how did they do it? 

social media for college fundraisingIntegration

Joe Klen, the associate dean for advancement, noted that "people were reaching out in many ways – social media, e-mail, phone calls – to friends and fellow alums and that drove participation.”

Rather than simply launching a social-media-only campaign, it was used as a small, albeit influential, part of a larger integrated campaign that included offline channels.

They recognized that some donors, reaching as far back as the Class of 1948, wouldn't be as active on social as younger alums. This inclusive strategy paid off, as every graduating class since 1948 had at least one donor.


Setting a time limit was key to the success of the campaign. Often, digital fundraising efforts fall flat because they are open-ended. There is no urgency to give.

By branding the campaign as a "day of giving" it was clear that Wabash wanted donations today, rather than making a passive appeal and hoping that a donation would come in eventually. They also set a goal of 1832 donations (the year the college was founded), which gave influencers an opportunity to update their community on the progress of the campaign.


Challenges are an excellent way to maximize the power of influencers. Through the accounts of multiple alums with a broad reach, Wabash was able to increase single donation amounts through the participation of non-donors: 

If you're planning a fundraising campaign with a social media component, strongly consider creating challenges ahead of time and launching them sporadically throughout the campaign. Giving a donor the opportunity to put their philanthropy on display can be a very powerful thing!

Have you seen any successful social media fundraising campaigns recently? Let me know in the comments below!

Join The Conversation

  • patmcgraw's picture
    May 16 Posted 3 years ago patmcgraw

    Steven, how much of that $465K came from these social media retweets?  And challenges/contribution matches have been part of fun raising since before my birth...why limit them to social media?

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