case studies, Facebook

March Madness Fundraiser at Campus Kitchens, Powered by Like

1 Comment 15 April 2011


The Campus Kitchens project just pulled off its first fundraiser, a competitive fundraising riff on college basketball’s March Madness, and the key to winning was…Facebook. The March Madness fundraiser was conceived within the national office of Campus Kitchens as a play upon college students’ natural pride and competitive spirit during March Madness. Campus Kitchens invited their college campuses to compete with one another over a 30-day period. The winner would be determined by which campus kitchen raised the most money during that time. Fourteen campuses competed, which were narrowed down to a Final Six halfway through the competition. One of the Final Six was to be the campus kitchen that receives the most Facebook Likes on its FirstGiving fundraising page. The March Madness event raised $13,433 and the Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College won the tournament by raising $3.572.

I interviewed Jasmine Touton, social media coordinator for Campus Kitchens, and Kim Davidson, coordinator of the Gettysburg College Campus Kitchen, to find out more about the fundraiser, and their use of social media to support it.

What turned the corner for the fundraiser was taking advantage of Facebook’s features, most importantly, Like


As a matter of course, Campus Kitchens asks each participating college campus open and maintain a Facebook page. Towards the middle of the month, Jasmine noticed that the number of Likes on Campus Kitchen Facebook pages increased, across all 24 Facebook Campus Kitchen fan pages. According to Jasmine, “We weren’t sure how they were going to use it (the FirstGiving social share features), but Facebook was exactly where they were sharing it.” The month of March, the kitchens gained 254 Likes, which is a big spike compared to a normal month of 50 Likes across all pages.   A few Campus Kitchens created Facebook Events.  Those who created Facebook Events got more Facebook Likes, and which ended up comprising the same Final Six.

They also thought outside of the box by asking the PR department of each participating university and college to post information about March Madness on their official Facebook Pages. Many did. The biggest jump in Likes was when a fundraiser was posted onto the official university’s Facebook Page. Jasmine notes that a lot of donations come in because of that. They also reached out to the PR offices of Gettysburg College and Northwestern University and asked them to send information about the fundraiser to the alumni, which helped spur donations to the fundraiser.

“My whole Facebook newsfeed was March Madness,” says Jasmine Touton

One campus even combined offline with online Facebook action: The Gonzaga University coordinator stopped students on campus to ask them to click “Like” on Facebook. “This really did help to share it,” notes Jasmine.

Gettysburg College’s Campus Kitchens was the March Madness winner. Kim Davidson, campus coordinator, also believes Facebook was critical to winning. “We began email and social media blasts while students were on spring break and the majority of the people who gave at the beginning were from the local community. Local farms and the Farmers Market Association also linked to it through their Facebook pages and e-newsletters. When students came back we started soliciting within the college community. The big boost came when the Office of Web Communications at Gettysburg College agreed to post the competition on their Facebook feed. Parents and Alumni were able to see it and contribute as well.” (You can visit their fundraising page here and their Facebook page here.)

I asked Jasmine if anything surprised her. “We didn’t expect that it would be so easy to get colleges to post on their Facebook pages. We also didn’t expect as many alumni donations. On the donor comments, many are rooting for their schools instead of just the causes. We also didn’t expect all the Facebook likes on the individual FirstGiving fundraising pages. Once the kitchens began promoting the Facebook likes (via email, on their Facebook pages, using Facebook events), we saw a big return.”

The Campus Kitchen project is a student-led and powered organization operating on 29 college campuses. They empower thousands of students each year to recycle food from their cafeterias, turn these donations into nourishing meals, and deliver those meals to those who need it most.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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