Washington State University’s Food Insecurity Campaign & Video

Posted on 03/17/2020
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Title Food Insecurity Campaign & Video
Institution Washington State University
Submitted By Spencer Farrin
Development Content Specialist
Category Special Campaigns/Challenges
Institution Type College / University
What fiscal year did this effort occur? 2017
Description WSU’s 2017 #GivingTuesday campaign supported Cougs Feeding Cougs, a new program that allows students facing food insecurity to request dining funds. #GivingTuesday was the kickoff event for this program to start accepting cash donations. The video above was the promotional kick-off for the event.
What makes this unique The goal of the video was very simple: We wanted to create an emotional connection to the issue with a relatable, uncomfortable, and heart-breaking conversation. Many students facing these issues suffer in silence. Asking for help can be difficult and embarrassing. We believed that many people would connect with the student’s gut-wrenching conflict, since many viewers likely have been in that situation themselves.

Its simplicity is its strength. We didn’t assign faces, names, or identities to the subjects and allowed the audience to feel directly connected to the conversation. We feel that it worked very well. People connected with the emotion and the message of the video very deeply, and we feel this had a significant impact on not only the giving behavior, but the sharing and ambassador promotion of the campaign.

Primary Goal The campaign’s primary goal was participation, with a secondary goal of acquisition. Since it was a new program at the time, it was difficult to gauge how well it might perform. We felt that it would be a good opportunity to engage some key donor groups (students, young alumni, parents, faculty/staff) with a good potential for acquisition. We felt the low entry point ($10 to fund a student meal) played well for those groups.
Outcome The campaign was an overwhelming success, and we feel that the video above gave us significant early momentum. As the first promotional communication, this video was widely shared, saw significant engagement, and worked as a great ambassador recruitment piece—internal staff was reaching out to us offering their help.

The video reached 9,717 people on Facebook and was shared 31 times on its first post. The campaign was shared 474 times through our #GivingTuesday platform.

We acquired a $15,000 matching gift to support the campaign, and built our internal campaign goal of $15,000 around that amount. We surpassed the goal before noon on #GivingTuesday. In the end, the campaign raised $37,555 in donations for a total of $52,355.

With an average gift size of a little more than $70, this campaign was built around participation. It also had significant cultural impact: The WSU Residence Hall Association held an emergency meeting and pledged $3,300 of its budget toward this campaign (this is money often designated for parties and events—they chose to reinvest it in their classmates’ well-being).

Other Comments In the world of HD, 4K, cinematic feature videos, we feel this campaign shows that you don’t necessarily need a huge budget to create impactful visual content. At the end of the day, this campaign was a success because we were able to find an important issue and then instead of telling our audience why it matters, we put the phone in their hands (virtually), helped them suffer through a difficult, gut-wrenching conversation, and then allowed them to become the biggest advocates.


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