Furman’s ‘no-call’ fundraising campaign: will it ring up more donations?

Furman University has launched a new alumni fundraising campaign that takes a new approach to the typical phone solicitation. With DoNotCallMeAtDinner.com, Furman promises alumni that if they make a donation before May 15, “we promise not to call during dinner, or any other time for that matter, for the rest of the academic year.” It’s a clever approach.

Furman engaged Greenville, S.C., marketing firm HillMullikan to come up with the approach. According to the firm’s website, “The campaign was designed to create alumni awareness and increase participation with Furman University while raising funds through online donations. Like most universities, Furman has a Spring Call-a-Thon that yields results but is perceived as an annoyance to many donors.”

The site‘s centerpiece is a Mac vs. PC parody video — not the most creative approach (it’s been done before, again and again), but not overly annoying. More impressive, from an alumni pride standpoint, are the testimonials of donors who answer the question, “Why do you give back to Furman University?”

How well will this campaign work? I guess we’ll have to wait until after May 15 to find out.

Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

6 thoughts on “Furman’s ‘no-call’ fundraising campaign: will it ring up more donations?”

  1. I dislike these kinds of “blackmail” campaigns (even if they result in more giving). Public Radio in L.A. did something similar last year, promising in the late spring not to have another on-air membership dive until after Election Day (in November) if they reached their spring goal. A donation shouldn’t be equated with “making bail.”

  2. Andy – Good point. It does have a bit of a heavy-handed tone to it, but perhaps “blackmail” is too harsh a term. Subtle coercion, perhaps?

    The best approach I’ve seen to this kind of marketing was this National Lampoon cover from years gone by (back when that magazine was kind of funny). But like the Mac vs. PC parodies, the “buy this magazine or…” themes have become trite.

  3. I’m happy to call it subtle coercion. More to the point, what happens if you don’t give? They call you three times a night?

    Some local charities here have tried something like this: and I’d rather pay a fee -not- to go to a dinner, eat rubber chicken, and hear lame speeches–and still support a good cause. If it’s done with some humor, and not done every year, it works for me.

    But I wonder if Furman (or any college or university) is a compelling enough cause in this day and age for it to work well? Will be interesting to see what happens.

  4. There’s something to be said for the simplicity of the message. After spending some time reviewing the site, what seems to be lacking is a more compelling message about why you should give.

    I appreciate knowing that 80% of the funds have traditionally gone to student scholarships/aid, but if it were my alma mater, I’d like to hear some examples of students who had benefited from alumni giving in the past (students who would not have otherwise had an opportunity to attend the fine institution).

    That would pull at my heart strings a bit more — leading to a likely donation.

    It’ll be interesting to see what the results are. We’ll send positive vibes!

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