How Piedmont University set an alumni donor participation record amidst COVID-19

Piedmont University sensed the economic impact the pandemic would bring. In an effort to maintain academic continuity and transform students' lives, the univeristy went fully virtual for its Lions Share-a-thon giving campaign and successfully raised $322,375, growing alumni donor participation from less than 3% to more than 5% in a year.




Total Gifts


of the goal exceeded

William Peace University grand welcome to the Class of 2020 virtually with Almabase

About Piedmont University

Founded in 1897, Piedmont University is a private university in Demorest and Athens, Georgia, with over 21,000 constituents. The university campus includes 300 acres in a traditional residential-college setting located in the foothills of the northeast Georgia Blue Ridge mountains.

Piedmont University dedicates itself to the transformative power of education through reciprocal learning, the development of compassionate leaders, and the stewardship of local and global communities. The liberal arts college has been ranked the #1 private college in the state of Georgia (July 2019) by James Magazine. The US News & World Report ranks Piedmont University #50 in Regional Universities South and #27 in Best Value Schools.

What challenges did Piedmont University face?

Increased need for financial aid due to COVID-19

Financial aid is a pillar for every private university and it is even more integral at a time like this. As Piedmont University manages the crisis brought about by the pandemic, financial aid is crucial for maintaining academic continuity. With in-person classes cancelled, the university has moved to virtual classes which created a need for technology upgrades. Other than academic needs, the university requires additional funds for cleaning, sanitizing, and making repairs to all living, classroom, and workspaces in expectation of the students' return to campus. The institution is also providing shelter to stranded students and protective gear to frontline healthcare professionals on campus. 

Very few supporters willing to give back

The private university has not been able to cultivate the sense of giving back amongst its community members. Traditionally, Piedmont University’s fundraising was limited to a small cadre of donors who started a cohort program which provided income to the university. Since most engagement efforts went into cultivating these few donors, the majority of alumni started feeling alienated. Historically the college’s alumni participation in the Annual Fund was around 3%.

Traditional channels for engaging donors now defunct

In the past, Piedmont University alumni received limited communications from the college after they graduated. Additionally, the rural location of the college campus also contributed to the struggle of having alumni visit the campus and participation at in-person events was, therefore, quite low. With the onset of the pandemic and the looming crisis, the university could no longer rely on traditional engagement methods and limited engagement. Piedmont University, therefore, had to find alternative ways to rally support from its community.

What was Piedmont University able to achieve using Almabase?

Record highest-ever participation at a Giving campaign

Piedmont University ramped up its digital marketing strategy with the Lions Share-a-thon Giving campaign. The private university set up a branded giving page and adopted a virtual communication strategy to be able to connect with its community and set a record for highest participation from alumni. The university successfully raised $322,375, with the support of 333 donors. 

Piedmont University’s strong emotional appeal, tied in with creative marketing strategy, was able to garner strong support from its alumni community. The private university asked its community to contribute towards various causes that would help secure the future of Piedmont and its students. The giving campaign was aimed at garnering support for multiple causes - technology upgrades for virtual classrooms, financial and emergent needs for students, protective gear for community members who are frontline healthcare professionals, and sanitization of the campus to make it safe for students to return to.

The creative use of videos in Piedmont University’s giving campaign:

The institution leveraged strong emotional appeal to nudge donors by featuring its mascot Leo and faculty members in videos added to the campaign page and social media. 

Here’s a video of Leo and Piedmont’s VP for Advancement and campus Chaplain,  encouraging alumni to support the Chaplain's Discretionary Fund for student financial emergencies. 

Here’s another fun video of Leo dropping a friendly reminder for the Piedmont community to come forward and help the institution overcome all shortages caused due to the pandemic. 

Piedmont University's #GivingTuesday email campaign: 

Piedmont University also rolled out an email campaign for alumni on May 5th, 2020 - GivingTuesdayNow - A Day of Global Action for Giving and Unity in Response to COVID-19. 

The email urged all alumni to donate a minimum of $20 (or more) to receive a special gift from Leo, a branded Piedmont T-shirt. The email campaign witnessed a whopping 47% open rate.

In addition to garnering support from Leo’s videos on social media, Piedmont University also featured notable alumni and staff members sharing their stories. 

Piedmont University’s social media campaign:

The institution urged its community to support their efforts by featuring an article by Perry Rettig, the Vice President for enrollment management and Vice President for the Athens campus at Piedmont University. In this article, Perry shares his uplifting story of how students, faculty, and staff have truly done an amazing job to overcome challenges during the pandemic. See the post on Facebook.

In another video shared on social media, Piedmont University President James F. Mellichamp applauds the efforts put in by faculty and staff to transition to virtual classes during the pandemic. He urges the Piedmont community to come forward and honor their teachers for their tireless efforts. View the post on Facebook.

Post the campaign, Piedmont University students expressed their gratitude to all supporters of the Lions Share-a-thon campaign with a sweet video. 

The video was also shared on Piedmont University’s official alumni page. Head over to Facebook to view the post.

The email sent to all donors with a link to the ‘Thank you video by Piedmont students’

Increased alumni giving from 3%  to more than 5% in a year
Crowdfunding campaign, Lions Share-a-thon, raised $322,375, with the support of 333 donors and surpassed its fundraising goal by 142%

Piedmont University continues to support its alumni throughout the COVID-19 crisis and organize giving campaigns round the year with Almabase. Head over to Piedmont University’s alumni website to learn more.

Get in touch for a detailed demo of Almabase.

Schedule a Demo