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Volume 22 No. 43
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How Opendorse helped Purdue land record donations

In the mere seconds it took Drew Brees to send a tweet, he reached 3.2 million followers, asked them to support Purdue athletics with a donation and included a photo from his playing days at his alma mater.

 

Brees was one of several former Purdue athletes and current coaches who used social media to raise money on the school’s official Day of Giving, which it touts as the largest single-day online fundraising effort in higher education.

By the end of the day, Purdue athletics had raised $3.26 million, more than twice what the Boilermakers had ever raised previously on their Day of Giving. Purdue used the money to pay for athletic scholarships.

“What we’re all figuring out, in college and pro sports, is that the fans want to hear directly from the athletes, not from the teams,” said Laurie Silverstein, who handles digital and social marketing for the John Purdue Club. “It just comes across as being more genuine and authentic.”

With Brees, football coach Jeff Brohm and other Purdue luminaries using their voice on social media as the marketing engine for the April fundraising campaign, the athletic department reached a larger audience with a unique, tailored message for the day, far exceeding what it could have done with the typical outbound phone calls.

What enabled Purdue to reach so many more people was its relationship with Opendorse, the social media company that helps athletes build their brands on Twitter and other social platforms. Opendorse had been working with the Boilermakers for nearly two years, using its technology to deliver ready-made tweets to the athletes, complete with text and images. All the athlete has to do is proofread the tweet and hit “share.” Any images, graphics or links are already loaded.

Using that same method, Opendorse fed ready-made tweets to Brees, Brohm and others so they could quickly and easily post on social media with a link back to Purdue’s donation website.

In all, 31 former athletes and coaches sent 34 tweets related to the cause, all provided by Opendorse and approved by the player or coach.

The company, which has topped 70 university partnerships, says that fans are seven times more likely to engage with a social media post from an athlete than a team or league account.

Close to 70 university departments were competing with athletics, which finished second. The Boilermakers’ $3.26 million came on 1,716 gifts, compared to 2018 when it raised $1.6 million on 1,512 gifts. Not only did more donors give, they also gave more.

“This is a great example of the kind of outcome-driven approach our clients are taking,” said Blake Lawrence, an Opendorse co-founder and chief executive. “The typical evolution we see with clients is crawl-walk-run. Purdue is definitely in the running lane, and they’re driving significant outcomes.”