Musicians have the Grammys, Hollywood has the Oscars, and higher ed has the CASE Circle of Excellence Awards. While these awards may not have quite the same ring, they’re just as influential as their Hollywood counterparts, and this year Drexel University took home the equivalent of “Best Picture” for its 2016 crowdfunding campaign.

CASE, or the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, is one of the most prestigious international associations in the higher ed industry. Every single year, a handful of colleges and universities are recognized for their impact in advancement, marketing, fundraising, and more.

This year over 3,300 schools, both small and large, Division III and Division I, state and private, in America and beyond, entered the contest. When it came to the 2017 Best Practices in Fundraising Award, Drexel received the highest honor: a platinum prize for its 2016 “24 Hours of Impact” campaign, which our UI/UX design team helped create.

The custom higher education crowdfunding campaign was the first of its kind for the school and it took a lot of planning, but the hard work clearly paid off! The campaign not only exceeded its donor goal nearly 5x over, but it raised more than $713,000 in only 24 hours. Students, alumni, faculty and staff, family members, and friends from all over the world participated in the day of giving.

CASE judges praised the engaging theme of the campaign, which turned donors into special agents and sent them on a mission to find the school’s missing mascot, Mario the Dragon. Every donation unlocked clues to the dragon’s whereabouts, as well as a custom spy badge that donors could share on social media, which encouraged online friends and followers to join in on the action.

Through our experience designing crowdfunding campaigns, we’ve found that gamification drastically helps increase engagement, and Drexel proved to be no exception. Drexel found the key to making its campus community want to donate, instead of asking it to.

On-campus events and challenges got the word out about the campaign, turning the crowdfunding event into an interactive campus celebration both online and off, something CASE judges really applauded.

“[With a] good use of resources, along with a result well above their goal, this is an excellent program from the team at Drexel,” CASE judges said.

Check out the infographic below to see the record-breaking, trendsetting, and now award-winning day of giving campaign from Drexel University.

screenshot of Drexel University case study