Incorporating Mascots to Encourage Young Alumni Giving

Posted on 05/14/2014

mascot noun: an animal, person, or thing adopted by a group as its representative symbol and supposed to bring good luck.

Flat OllieFounded in 1948, Brandeis is a private research university that offers the intimacy of a liberal arts college. Among Brandeis’ many unique characteristics is that it does not have a football team or a traditional mascot. What’s not so unique, however, is that it wants to increase its alumni participation rates.

Enter Flat Ollie.

Who is he? He’s the friendly owl that welcomed students to campus at orientation, cheered them on in the gym and soccer field, dragged them out of the library for Midnight Buffet, posed for thousands of pictures, and bid them farewell during senior week.

“Ollie is our unofficial mascot,” says Mark Ableman, Assistant Vice President for Development at Brandeis. “Most of our young alumni relate to him and he reminds them of the positive experiences they had when they were students.”

“He’s flat because he has to squish down to go through the mail,” says Ableman jokingly. “But you’ll also find him in photos on the alumni Facebook page, featured in email appeals, or writing about his latest adventure on the Brandeis Bold blog.”

The idea, which started in 2011, has become a regular part of the University’s BOLD (i.e., Brandeisians of the Last Decade) campaign. Today Ollie continues to stimulate Facebook comments, encourage record updates, and raise general awareness about the impact that results from alumni giving all over the world.

In the first year alone, the Flat Ollie strategy helped increase the young alumni participation rate from 13% to 16% and has helped BOLD alumni get on track towards 20% participation for this fiscal year.

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