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University breaks donation record for 125th anniversary

Members of the Future Alumni Association pass out ice cream on Sept. 13 in Fabiano Botanical Garden.

Central Michigan University broke its previous record for donations in honor of the university's 125th anniversary, with 1,149 donors raising $102,708 in one day.

The fundraiser took place on Sept. 13 the day of CMU's 125th anniversary.

For this year's fundraiser, CMU aimed to top last year's turnout with a goal of reaching 500 donors. The previous record for largest amount of donations was the Giving Tuesday event in 2016, when 401 donors contributed $52,873.

Participants could donate money to anywhere within the university, though the majority of the funds donated will go to scholarships, said Bryan Griffin, director of Annual Giving with Alumni Relations.

Griffin credits the record-breaking turnout to the administration being proactive and innovative when reaching out to donors. The university engaged potential donors through Facebook, Twitter and sent email reminders up to two weeks before the fundraiser to alert alumni of the event. 

"It was a perfect storm," Griffin said. "A lot of people were excited about the 125th anniversary,  we did a better job this year of using social media outreach and our alumni board members where a big part of this. They were social media ambassadors for us. They really pushed the message out there and challenged their friends to give, so we had a great grassroots campaign via social media.

"Our email strategy was sharper this year. We had a good strategy this year, good execution and great alumni engagement."

Annual Giving launched its University Campaign earlier than usual this year. It targets retirees, staff and faculty. Griffin believes the early launch resulted in a higher turn out – 51 people donated, raising more than $11,000.  

Annual University Campaign was able to reach more than 40,000 people on Facebook. Phonathon also set an all-time record, with 307 donors participating.

Other campaigns included teaming up with the Clarke Historical Library to produce "did you know" features highlighting important events throughout the university's history, and having the Future Alumni Association give out free ice cream in the Fabiano Botanical Garden with the option of donating $1.