February 20, 2014
In recent years, Hamilton College has experienced a decline in donations. This financial conflict has affected the institution’s peer colleges, as well as various colleges nationwide.
Hamilton sought a way to address the situation in a unique way that would complement the College’s recent digital push. The result was the What’s Your Number (or #HamiltonWYN) Campaign, which launched Feb. 10.
Created by Director of Annual Giving Fred Rogers, the challenge maintains that the College will receive the $1 million for financial assistance, the Career Center, and programs in oral and written communications once 11,000 donors are recorded as participants. A notable feature of the challenge is that it encourages donors to spread the world of their donation—and to urge others to donate, too—through social media. Those who donate are asked to take a selfie or make an Instagram/Vine video that includes their donation number, then post it to a social media site, such as Twitter. Each post will explain why the donor chose to give money to the College.
A significant difference between this campaign and past donation initiatives is that the challenge is not based on the amount of one’s gift—all donors, and, therefore, all gifts, are of equal value in the effort to reach—and even surpass—the 11,000 donor mark.
According to Rogers, “We want to address that trend by giving everyone a reason to give this year, in a way that might be fun and that could lend itself to active promotion on social media. We also like the idea of a community of donors coming together to release the $1 million challenge pool that’s at stake here—serious money that every donor, including Seniors and all undergraduates, can help win for Hamilton.”
Any gift donated to the College this academic year will count towards the 11,000 participant target. Emphasis, however, is being placed on gifts that will support the Annual Fund, a section of donations that significantly helps fuel the College’s operating budget. This is the first time, the College is allocating the $6.8 million in the Annual Fund to three different priority areas within Hamilton’s operating budget.
Based upon recent numbers, the College is currently at 6,759 donors. These donors’ videos and images can be viewed on the Hamilton Scroll or by searching #HamiltonWYN. The deadline for participation in the What’s Your Number? Donations Challenge in June 30.
“Challenges of some sort always bring out the best in Hamiltonians,” he said. “We think that challenges emphasizing the fact of giving, rather than the raw size of gift, will continue to appeal to a broad range of donors —one gift is as good as the next.”