Giving Tuesday

Website/Illinois State University/2014 & 2015

The Problem

As state and federal funding for public universities and the public sector continues to decline, non-profit organizations need to find new ways to fundraise financial support and communicate their messages of advocacy to new audiences. In 2012, the 92 Street Y created an annual event called Giving Tuesday to piggy-back on the consumer driven days of Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. The event was meant to drive local and national shoppers online towards supporting their own community non-profits. Illinois State University joined this cause in 2014.

The Project

As the state’s first and second largest university, Illinois State also serves as an institution of education, equality, shared governance, critical thinking, and public well-being. Giving Tuesday was a perfect opportunity to remind the surrounding community, prospective audiences, and alumni spread across the country that this role is only made possible through private gifts, as state budgets continued to shrink.


  • Worked with a task force of cross-disciplinary professionals to visualize the event and determine goals and scope.
  • Served as a liaison to the task force and communicated strategies and needed resources to direct report.
  • Worked cooperatively with Donor Services and University Advancement to optimize online giving experience for mobile.
  • Created website wireframes and high-fidelity mockups.
  • Worked cooperatively with designers, editors, and developers during website build.
  • Made live updates to website in a “war room” the day of the event.

The Solution

Giving Tuesday’s brand is one that can be attached to other brands. Working closely with the marketing arm of the university, we created a logo that would fit within the national event, but be recognizable to the Illinois State family. The look and feel of the website was to draw off the core brand, and feature iconic imagery that would remind donors and alumni the thrill of explored passions. A clean, quick user interface was paramount to drawing thousands of short-term gifts in one day.

The Results

The first year of the initiative proved to wildly successful, raising over $331,400 to support scholarships and University programs. The day was also the single biggest fundraising effort for WGLT, the local NPR affiliate housed within the University. The effort also called attention to email marketing bottle-necks in the fundraising process, an issue that was resolved the following year. In 2015, donations grew to $556,700, and in 2016, $593,936. The original site design is still in use and has become a turn-key solution for focus fundraising at Illinois State University.

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