April 2012 delivered a different sort of advancement effort at Susquehanna University. In an effort to broaden the dialogue with graduates, we asked them to contribute something other than a check as part of a major campaign effort. The campaign, SU SERVE (Susquehannans Engaged in Regional Volunteer Experiences), built off of an annual student program run out of Student Life. The Susquehanna Alumni Board, seeing an opportunity, asked whether graduates could be involved and perhaps broaden the reach of SU SERVE. Happily, a partnership evolved.
We reached agreement on using a campaign model to spur involvement and participation. The typical student output has been in the range of 2,500 hours of service during the month of April, and so there was agreement that a goal of 10,000 hours felt about right - challenging, to be sure, but achievable. A comprehensive communications effort led by our University Communications team produced the buzz needed to raise SU SERVE's profile, especially on campus by way of a campus poster blitz. We also created a promotional video: our Alumni Director noted that in her 5+ years, this was the first video ever created expressly for an alumni program (vs. development).
Rather than a single day of service that limits participation by time and venue, the entire month of April was cast as the participation window. And it wasn't about service to Susquehanna - we solicited service delivered BY Susquehannans that makes the world a better place. Volunteer firefighters, scout troop leaders, youth sports coaches, congregational leaders, and many others flocked to the program, pledging their April hours as part of the SU SERVE campaign. It was cool to see the hours come through the website.
In the end, over 17,000 service hours were delivered by our community. And so you might ask: who cares? What difference does it make for Susquehanna? Well, we tend to have a lot of prospective students checking us out who say they've done community service since they were 10 or 11 years old, and "...is this the kind of university where I can continue to be involved in those ways?" We believe we've produced a proof point that answers the question.
For more information: www.susqu.edu/suserve (end-of-campaign video coming soon)