George Washington University is a private research institution located in the heart of our nation’s capital and serving more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and more than 130 countries. Known for preparing leaders for careers in a variety of fields, George Washington is home to an extensive student life program, Division I athletics, and once-in-a-lifetime internship opportunities.
As it closed the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in school history, George Washington University needed a way to thank more than 66,000 donors who contributed a total of $1.02 billion during the six years of the Making History campaign. The university determined it wanted to develop a reverse honor roll – focusing on the beneficiaries and outcomes of philanthropy instead of a list of donors and gift amounts. In order to communicate the impact these gifts have on the GW community, it was important to spotlight tangible success stories and showcase how donors’ generosity has shaped lives and the future.
To learn more about George Washington University’s target audience, eCity conducted user interviews with alumni who have given in the past, as well as stakeholder interviews with the GW development officers. Based on these interviews, we learned more about donor motivations and how they preferred to be thanked for their philanthropy, as well as identified ways to display stories and data. We then developed the concept for a site that would draw people in with relevant content, make all donors feel recognized regardless of gift size, and encourage users to ‘Continue the Journey’ with future donations.
Data visualization played an important role in this project, helping to convey the collective impact of philanthropy on the university. To get a better understanding of how the money is being used to fund specific projects, users can filter stories by three categories, which also served as pillars of GW’s campaign: Break New Ground, Enhance Academics, and Support Students. Within each of these categories, donors are able to see how their gifts are shaping the future of GW – by funding new scholarships for students, providing support for groundbreaking research, helping to attract and retain top faculty, and so much more.
“Having seen eCity Interactive’s prior work with higher education clients, we knew they were the right fit to tackle this campaign. eCity addressed our questions and brought new ideas to the table using their knowledge of the higher ed space and industry expertise. Our expectations were consistently met or exceeded throughout the project. Especially in the design and development stages, eCity was able to take our vision to the next level by adding key features and functionality that enhanced the user experience.” – Matthew Lindsay, Executive Director, Digital Strategy & Engagement at George Washington University Division of Development & Alumni Relations
The George Washington University ‘Making History’ microsite gives a voice to the students, faculty members, and program directors that were helped as a result of this historic campaign. The site is fully responsive on all devices and features a wide variety of written stories and videos detailing gifts’ impact. Users are also encouraged to share their own giving story on social media. Along with demonstrating the impact of these gifts through storytelling and custom data visualizations, the site also includes subtle asks for ongoing donations and support from donors.