Learn how we adapted, evolved, and survived the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 swept the country in what felt like a matter of moments. Many of us were forced to shelter in our homes for months during the initial quarantine, bringing an end to in-person gatherings and events. At the Ball State University Foundation, we had to adapt to embrace a virtual world at a pace to match the rest of the country for the sake of our program and our alumni.
Before the pandemic, attendance for in-person events was declining nationally with the rise of convenient and adaptable virtual options, and plans were already in place to move forward with our program’s digital initiatives. We quickly learned that our new approach to event planning had many advantages, mainly reduced cost and quicker turnaround for events that could be shortened to twenty minutes online instead of an entire dedicated weekend.
Embracing our virtual identity allowed us to plan popular events such as cooking and fitness demos, tips for decorating for the holidays, and virtual scotch tastings in regional markets. We now have the ability to curate events for our niche audiences with virtual meetings—no longer would the underwater basket weaving club be ostracized! Instead, breakout rooms and carefully crafted events allowed us to embrace and appeal to even our smallest demographics.
We are profoundly fortunate to have our efforts supported by our extraordinary alumni. Initially, we posted content rapidly to meet the new demand of a country confined to their homes. Though we worried our efforts would go unnoticed, to our pleasant surprise, our alumni showed up in droves with love and support for our actions. We had more participation virtually for some events than we would have ever had in-person. The energy and excitement that we have felt from our alumni towards our initiatives have solidified our new hybrid approach to events. Whether it was learning to cook the perfect burger with Scotty Wise or watching the “Peyton’s Places” episode with David Letterman and 1,200 of our closest Ball State friends, our new offerings have proven themselves to be valuable and appreciated. Even after this pandemic has passed, we will continue to expand our offerings with both in-person and virtual opportunities.
Looking forward, our focus is to provide exclusive, on-demand, and meaningful career and professional development opportunities for our alumni while delivering more of the same for our most engaged members and volunteers. We hope our new hybrid approach will open the door for increased corporate engagement opportunities, and reunions and award programs. Looking back, we are so proud of what we, as a community, have accomplished and proven through pride and determination—That together, We Fly!
- After almost canceling our 2020 One Ball State Day/online day of giving, we stayed strong and raised more than $530,000.
- In 2021, we raised more than $778,000 with over 9,000 gifts received.
- The Young Alumni Council’s inaugural new graduate welcome video had an 86.6% open rate compared to the industry average of 22.71%.
- Virtual trivia nights brought in more than 100+ attendees from multiple states and class years.
- Our Facebook videos averaged 2,031 views.
- The biannual conference for alumni leaders went virtual and saw a 67% increase in attendance and an 81% decreased cost.
- The best-attended events on Facebook were: Arizona Bowl Pre-Game; Day of Beneficence/Thank a Donor Day events; and Cooking with Cardinals Holiday Edition (Ball State’s famous orange rolls).
- The most viewed alumni highlight videos were: A Day in the Life of an Interpretive Naturalist with Lindsey Harrell, ’17; Larry Metzing’s, ’70, Ball State story and impact video; How to Create the Perfect Holiday Space with design experts Staci Slavin, ’97, and Kristen Suding, ’06, of Inland Interiors; and a Barre Routine with Code Red Coach Olivia Ralston, ’12
- The launch of our comprehensive online mentoring program, Cardinals Connect, was a success and is available for all alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends.