Teasing Out Our Touting Targets (Pt 3): Why We're Doing It Differently

Posted more than a year ago.

It’s been a busy week, friends. So far we’ve talked about the value of touting campaign progress and why many non-profits overlook their internal audience in campaign marketing.

Today we get to the heart of the matter: why we’re doing things differently this time.

Why telling the Thrive story on campus is worth every penny.

Allow me to change up my pronoun usage for this one. Instead of “they” and “them,” I’d like to address our students and employees with a direct and heartfelt “you.”

You, my on-campus family, are the heart and soul of this amazing place. Our physical campus is special—it has a rich history and many memories are etched in its halls and scattered across its grounds—but without you, there would be no classes to attend, no choruses to join, no kaw-kawing from the bleachers, no laughter in the halls, and no buzz in the air. There would be no culture. No special sauce. No lights. No life. No University.

God makes it all happen, of course. But He’s using you to get it all done. Thanks for making this place home.

Your deep impact on this campus (and on me personally) speaks to one big reason we’re telling the Thrive story right here…

Reason 1 - Our students and employees work too hard and have too many good ideas to be left in the dark.

You know who has really great ideas on how to teach physics? Physics professors. How to nurse? Nurses. How to make a movie? Communication professors. How to manage technology? IT. How to embrace and enhance student life? Students. 

When you’ve got 3,000 informed (and often expert) opinions at your fingertips, it makes sense to use them.

There will be disagreement, certainly, but you can’t make the best decisions without involving your closest collaborators. That’s why in Thrive, we’ve opened the priority floor up to any student, faculty, or staff member who wants to submit an idea. (No joke.)

To my on-campus friends, it’s as simple as taking your idea to your Vice President. They’ve committed to working with you and floating your best ideas for consideration in Thrive. (Alumni and friends, please feel free to call or email me in the same vein.)

This kind of community-wide access and influence in a campaign is unheard of. But, you know what? The caliber of our Eagles is pretty unheard of, too. You deserve a listening ear and we’ve got ours on.

Reason 2 - Three thousand voices echo louder than fifteen.

We can invest months and thousands of dollars building a positive campaign image and a compelling University story beyond this campus. But, at the end of the day, our Advancement Team is only fifteen strong and our voices carry only so far.

And I won’t overlook the elephant in the room: my teammates and I are paid to raise money and tell the OC story. I’m not so naïve as to think that fact isn’t in the back of many minds. If you know me, I hope you know that I will stretch ‘til it hurts to be genuine, loving, and human in all my friendships—and certainly in those that result in giving relationships with Oklahoma Christian. But I know your perspective on my perspective will always be flavored with that little nugget: “he’s a fundraiser.”

How would the world respond, though, if 2,000 unpaid students from 50 different states and 48 countries told that same story? If 400 faculty and staff members, with no fundraising in their blood, were ambassadors for the cause? Not only would our story instantly gain legitimacy, but also our reach would explode…

…by, oh, 16,000%.

Eyebrows up? Mine too.

Reason 3 - Thrive 2025 will depend on the students of 2014.

This may be the biggest reason we’re pushing the on-campus communication envelope. This is also the biggest factor overlooked by most universities.

That free-thinking, question-asking, norm-busting 18-year-old that’s sitting in the back row of Communication I today just might become a free-thinking, question-asking, norm-busting 39-year-old sitting at the head of the boardroom tomorrow. And if she or he steps off this campus in four years with a misconception of how OC uses tuition, or a sense of being shut out of all major decisions, or a perspective that the OC experience costs more than it’s worth, or with little to no experience with our large and wonderful donor family…then we’ve lost a lifelong and influential partner.

And, boardroom or not, we’ve lost a great OC ambassador.

Call me optimistic, but I’d wager few if any of our incoming freshmen have an opinion (good or bad) on how OC makes campaign decisions, invests resources, or seeks donations. Why would they? Right now their heads and hearts are aimed squarely at that starting line. It’s all rush. Little fuss. 

I remember that feeling. And while the start is fleeting, the passion and the energy need not be. That’s why I want to invest in our students now, in the thick of things, when they’ve never been more in love with Eagledom.

Students – I want you to see the big picture of what your University is doing and how we do it. I want you to meet the special families who are giving so you can be here and so we can Thrive. I want you to understand why your University chose to invest in X and not in Y, how much tuition we used in that investment, and that you are free and empowered to question every choice.

And I want to give you answers.

Because I believe when the curtain is peeled back...and all truths, hard and soft, come out...it’s then your love for Eagledom and your calling to home will know no bounds…and no expiration date.

-Will