We helped create the single-day fundraising model for Universities back in 2012 and have broken our own record each year since, so we’ve got a proven track record. But this creates its own challenge: namely, how do we continue to build on unprecedented success?

That’s the dilemma we faced after our 2017 Day of Giving for Purdue University set a new world record by raising $27 million in 24 hours from 15,181 gifts
(…which broke the record set the year before, which broke the previous record held by our work for Columbia University).

Our solution: Boost participation by doubling down on creativity and game-theory strategy: sparking lasting interdisciplinary collaborations and competitions by creating attention-grabbing campus events from comedy shows to a live social media mosaic wall, all through the lens of a cohesive creative campaign.

Beyond setting all new records for fundraising, our “Make Your Mark” campaign has already made its mark on the future of Purdue.




  • $37,619,706 raised

  • 18,633 total donations

  • Smashed previous record by 33 percent (Purdue Day of Giving 2017: $28.2 million)

  • Allowed Purdue to freeze tuition for the 7th year in a row

  • Gifts from 58 countries and all 50 states

  • 4th consecutive year Purdue has held the record for most dollars raised in a single-day campaign

  • 21% of gifts were from first-time or lapsed donors — a 23% increase*

  • The three highest participation levels were from the three most recent class years*

  • 87 percent increase in gifts from international donors*

  •  34 million+ impressions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat*

  • 42% increase in social impressions:

  • 66 participating schools, programs and campuses

  • 156 participating student organizations

  • Gifts ranged in size from $1 to $8 million

      ...all in only 24 hours!



We kicked off the campaign with a quick teaser video to grab audience attention and let them know something big was coming. Two weeks out, we then shifted into high gear with a motivational video that, in modest Purdue fashion, took a tongue-in-cheek approach by acknowledging we were asking the Purdue community to give back for the 5th year in a row.

Our teaser video drove curiosity in the weeks leading up to launch.

Our campaign video needed to be shared by the student population - so we created an infomercial spoof with lots of Purdue inside jokes, and some special appearances from Purdue celebs like Drew Brees and Vincent Edwards.

Our Thank You video had to be executed start to finish in less than a day and capture the energy of the on-campus events.

On the day itself, a large real-time photo mosaic (implemented through a partnership with Luster) was a created to be a focal point of on-campus activity. This unique installation engaged students, allowing them to easily participate by sharing Day of Giving messaging in social media and printing out thousands of photos to place within a mosaic that took shape over the course of the day.

Our team filmed this activity to serve as the foundation for our Thank You video announcing the campaign’s results, which was filmed and edited in time to be released soon after the official tally was confirmed. 


Armed with our materials, students hit the ground running, making Purdue Day of Giving a ubiquitous on-campus event as well.

From the live photo mosaic wall and a special edition of the Purdue Exponent student newspaper to campus Snapchat scavenger hunts and Instagram challenges held at a free comedy show featuring Daily Show correspondents Aasif Mandvi, Michael Kosta and David Angelo, Make Your Mark was a round-the-clock series of real-world events on campus that kept students engaged — and helping to spread the world in social media.


Our overarching campaign strategy and messaging of “Make Your Mark” spoke to our mission to increase audience participation. And it worked. Donor participation increased in every single audience segment.*

Alumni: up 27%    |    Faculty/Staff: up 41%    |    Friends: up 38%   
   Parents: up 36%    |    Students: up 46%

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Increasing international donors was another priority for Purdue, which has the second highest international student population of any public university. Our social “global challenges,” released strategically for specific time zones, helped us increase international donations in every category:*

Number of countries: up 27%      |      Number of gifts: up 85% 
      Donation amount: up 33%



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Perhaps the most profound impact of our work for Purdue since 2015 has been in motivating the previously untapped audience of recent grads to become regular donors. The three classes with the highest participation rates were the last three: 2015, 2016, and 2014, (and current students contributed 994 gifts) showing that not only is our social media-led Day of Giving strategy working to engage the youngest alumni, it’s crucially helping them develop a habit for giving.*

Every class since 1990 (27 class years) saw giving increases in 2017 except for five; seven of them saw massive participation increases of more than 50%. And every year from 1948 to the incoming Class of 2022 made donations.*

In addition to this success in attracting new donors, 2,143 of this year’s participants were first-time donors (a 23% increase over the previous year). An additional 1,090 Day of Giving donors were lapsed, meaning they had not given to Purdue in the past five years.*

And this effort has added to, rather than cannibalized, other efforts: 3,417 Day of Giving donors gave for the second time this year.*

NFL MVP Drew Brees Call To Action

Krannart Dean David Hummels



Attention-grabbing digital content was key to our success. We created a decentralized content ecosystem that drove to a website hub, which scaled to meet the flood of engagement and participation. This responsive, 3-phase website pulled in real-time donation and leaderboard information in a centralized location.

Our six-week schedule of social content, guided by our strategic “Make Your Mark” framework, built in momentum leading up to the day, then used game theory to drive competition—and of course donation—on the day itself through 36 hourly challenges.

This strategic underpinning proved especially essential when technical issues with the website vendor caused the donation website to crash—we were able to keep audience momentum going by directing the audience to compete in participation challenges in social media.

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A Social Tsunami

#PurdueDayofGiving trended organically on Twitter throughout the day, thanks to our constant hourly and full-day social challenges enhanced with matching funds.

We created an easy-to-use graphic toolbox, and encouraged all participating schools, programs, campuses and even student organizations to create their own campaign graphics within our framework to best reach their own respective audiences and motivate them to participate.

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For the Purdue Day of Giving campaign, we also created:

• T-shirts

• Print ads

• Bus ads

• Special edition of the campus newspaper

• Comedy event posters and cards

• Purdue Pete pop-out mailer

• Postcards

• Snapchat filters

• Email campaign

• Stewardship communications in print, email and social media