Purdue University


Role: Creative Director / Video Director

In 2017, my work with Purdue on their annual Day of Giving set a world record raising $27 million in 24 hours from 15,181 gifts (…which broke the record my team set the year before, which broke the previous record set by our work for Columbia University Giving Day).

For 2018, Purdue wanted to break their own record. A good problem to have, but how do you improve on that kind of success?

The solution: A comprehensive 360-degree campaign called “Make Your Mark” engineered to boost participation using game-theory strategy. We used a robust digital campaign, and attention-grabbing on-campus events, from comedy shows to a live social media mosaic wall.




A three-phase responsive website housed all content and tracked donation and leaderbaord results in real-time.


The campaign kicked off with a quick teaser video to grab audience attention and let them know something big was coming. Two weeks out, we shifted into high gear with a tongue-in-cheek motivational video asking the Purdue community to give back for the 5th year in a row.



Armed with our materials, students hit the ground running, making Purdue Day of Giving a non-stop on-campus event.

From a live photo mosaic wall and a special edition of the Purdue Exponent student newspaper to campus Snapchat scavenger hunts and Instagram challenges held at a free comedy show featuring Daily Show correspondents Aasif Mandvi, Michael Kosta and David Angelo, "Make Your Mark" was a round-the-clock series of real-world events on campus that kept students engaged — and helped to spread the world in social media.




The overarching campaign strategy and messaging of “Make Your Mark” spoke to our mission to increase audience participation. And it worked. Donor participation increased in every single audience segment



Increasing international donors was another priority for Purdue, which has the second highest international student population of any public university. Our social “global challenges,” released strategically for specific time zones, helped increase international donations in every category:

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global

Taking it Global



Perhaps the most profound impact was turning the previously untapped audience of recent graduates into regular donors. The three classes with the highest participation rates were also the three most recent: 2015, 2016, and 2014, (current students contributed 994 gifts) showing that not only did the social media-led Day of Giving strategy work to engage the youngest alumni, it’s helped them develop a habit of giving.

Nearly every class since 1990 (27 class years) gave more in 2017; seven classes increased participation by more than 50%. And every year – from 1948 to the incoming Class of 2022 – made donations.


In addition 2,143 of this year’s participants were first-time donors (a 23% increase over the previous year). An additional 1,090 Day of Giving donors had not given to Purdue in the previous past five years. This success did not cannibalized other Purdue fundraising efforts: 3,417 Day of Giving donors gave to the university for the second time this year.


Attention-grabbing digital content was key to our success. We created a decentralized content ecosystem that drove donors to the website hub, which scaled to meet the flood of engagement and participation.
A six-week schedule of social content, guided by our strategic “Make Your Mark” framework, built momentum leading up to the day, then we used game theory to fuel competition—and of course donations—on giving day.




#PurdueDayofGiving trended organically on Twitter throughout the day, thanks to our constant hourly and full-day social challenges.  We created an easy-to-use graphic toolbox, and encouraged all participating schools, programs, campuses and even student organizations to create their own campaign graphics within our framework to best reach their own respective audiences and motivate them to participate.

Copyright © 2021 Nils d'Aulaire