Colgate’s Passion for the Climb campaign continued to engage alumni and parents, even after its successful close on June 30. The university raised $480 million: 20 percent over the university’s goal and the second-largest campaign amount ever raised by an American liberal arts university.
In the home stretch, generous contributors pushed the financial aid total to $142.5 million.
On Colgate Day, Friday, July 13, President Jeffrey Herbst and others rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. A colorful banner thanking donors overtook the image rotator at www.colgate.edu, and the announcement story on Colgate’s news blog drew more than 2,500 visitors, making it the second most-viewed story after the Dalai Lama’s 2008 visit to campus. By the end of July, the page had logged more than 4,500 views.
Alumni and parents across the country encountered a veritable blitz of social and traditional media. The university tastefully thanked supporters by posting small online advertisements with the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other media, resulting in 1.53 million impressions.
This unprecedented move impressed one blogger, who posted this: “Taking time to thank those who have done generous things for you is basic etiquette. Yet, it’s something we don’t see enough of these days. So, nice job, Colgate. Thank you for thanking those who helped.”
News continued to break throughout the day. After the Associated Press’s Albany bureau sent the story across the country, more than 200 digital venues picked it up, including the Wall Street Journal and outlets from Anchorage to Yahoo. All the traffic earned Colgate a spot on the front page of Google News.
Social media extended Colgate’s moment. The university’s Facebook page registered 272,296 impressions and 63 likes on Colgate Day — its highest single-day totals. There were enough congratulatory tweets to #ColgateDay at 1:13 p.m., that Colgate scored its second appearance as a “trending” topic on Twitter.
The buzz was understandable. After all, $480 million was more than all five of Colgate’s previous campaigns combined.
By the time the books closed, 82 percent of all alumni and 40 percent of parents had participated in the effort, despite the global recession that hit only months after Passion for the Climb began in March 2007.
“What a great achievement for the entire Colgate community,” commented Ross Jackson ’61 about the announcement story . “Thanks to everyone who helped to achieve this amazing goal.”