Give SJU Day 2018: Why Did It Succeed?


Saint John’s University is known for rising to face challenges. Last year we had our best Student Fund year ever, raising over $3 million for the first time and hitting our goal on June 28 – two days ahead of deadline. So we knew exceeding records this year would be a challenge.

Well, we cleared the first major hurdle Nov. 14 on Give SJU Day, when alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends of the school answered the bell and thoroughly blew past the goals for the day.

For context: Last year during Give SJU Day we raised $401,000 from 1,032 donors.

This year our goals were to raise $450,000 from 1,200 donors.

But when Nov. 14 came, over 1,700 donors contributed over $575,000 during Give SJU Day, with all the money raised to be used for student scholarships at Saint John’s.

We were very pleased to see a 62 percent jump in donor numbers since a year ago. This is a testiment to the passion of our volunteers and the outreach they made to classmates on phone, email and social media. I’m so proud of this community.

Why was Give SJU Day so successful? I attribute it to three things.

First, we used the right tools. When we began planning for Give SJU Day last spring, we decided if there were two tools we wanted, they would be GiveCampus and a texting platform. We did both.

Second, Saint John’s has a great team. Our staff was all returners and they had a great team energy. They had a pre-written playbook that they crafted meticulously. When the day came, they didn’t have to make any decisions – all they had to do was execute.

Third, we have excellent and passionate volunteers. In past years, we relied on email blasts, the institutional Facebook page, and outbound communication from the university. This year our volunteers were in charge of the message, empowered by the tools including a very cool GiveCampus live class-by-class leaderboard, and the gifts kept rolling in literally until midnight.

I was on the couch late into the night texting with several volunteers who were saying “I reached out to Kevin, he’s going to give. I just heard from Chip, he is giving. Sandy texted me, she is in.” It was fun for them to see the totals in real time and truly feel the impact their outreach had.

Here are some statistics from Give SJU Day:

  • The top class in terms of donors was the Class of 2010, with 42 donors who contributed $7,145. The next two classes were the Class of 2002 (37 donors, $3,825) and the Class of 1999 (34 donors, $5,850).

  • 42 different alumni set up their own matches. Most of them were specific to a class year and inspired classmates to join in.

  • The SJU Alumni Association offered two matches of $50,000 each (a composite from several increased Fellows donors) and two challenges of $10,000 and $2,000, all unveiled at different times throughout the day and all new money for SJU this year. So $112,000 of the total raised came in the form of matches and challenges.

  • 22 volunteers including alumni and students recorded personal videos to say why they give to Saint John’s and encourage classmates to join them in giving.

  • Alumni accounted for 75 percent of the donations, followed by parents (16 percent), faculty/staff (4 percent), friends (3 percent) and students (1 percent).

  • Donors came from 44 states and six countries.

  • We had fun on social media, including several alumni who realized they got text messages from the same student ambassador, Connor, and joked about whether he was real (he is).

“Yesterday was a massive success for SJU and the Class of 2010,” said Class Gift Volunteer Gabriel Harren ’10. “And this because we show up.

“This is about paying it forward and making the SJU experience available to young men who discover our community. This is about building a 2010 legacy that we all should be proud of. Thank you for showing up!”

I couldn’t say it better myself.