When COVID-19 forced college campuses to close in the spring of 2020, it meant significant changes in routine for thousands of college students nationwide. For Native students, it meant serious, potentially lifelong disruption on a path that is already extremely hard fought. We had to act, shifting our creative and marketing strategy to boost fundraising so the College Fund could meet students’ basic needs and help them stay in school.
Even under normal circumstances, before the pandemic, more than 60% of Native students reported that they had experienced housing and food insecurity in the last year. More than 50% of Native students provide the primary source of income for their families (not just themselves).
So, at baseline, Native students, their families … whole communities are just getting by. Shifting to learning online wasn’t a feasible option for many, as Native Americans tend to live on reservations and in rural communities with unreliable internet service. Even those with a reliable internet connection didn’t possess a device to make online learning workable.
In close partnership with the College Fund, we responded quickly and conscientiously. To say there’s no blueprint for urgent fundraising marketing amid a global pandemic is an understatement. We were also swimming in a complicated and always developing cultural conversation around racial equity in the United States and a protest against Facebook, one of the social media platforms where we had successfully engaged audiences in the past.
Increase in digital donations
Q2 vs. Q1 2020
Increase in digital revenue
Q2 vs. Q1 2020
YoY increase in digital revenue
in December 2020