Flash Campaign


As an urban research university serving the most diverse student population in the state, Portland State University and its student body were deeply impacted by COVID-19.

Requests for student emergency funding to help students meet their basic needs skyrocketed across campus this year. As we headed into winter 2020 — arguably the darkest period of the pandemic – we needed to replenish these critical funds, especially for those students who were not eligible for assistance under the CARES Act.

We needed to galvanize our donors around replenishing the depleted resources and filling the funds.

Our approach

Given the constraints of COVID and the remote environment of campus, we knew we would need a digital-first campaign. We also knew from looking at similar solicitations in the past that the majority of our donors for emergency funds identify as faculty and staff.

We decided to create a segmented email communications campaign for faculty and staff with a peer-to-peer crowdfunding component.

As for the look and feel, we went for a simple approach to avoid looking overly splashy. We also engaged some of our best ambassadors (PSU students) in creating a series of short videos that shared the power of emergency funds in students' lives.


My team managed to bring in more than $300,000 in a single day — more than any other flash campaign in the organization's history.

More than 50% of our gifts received in this campaign also campaign from faculty and staff (much more than our goal of 30%).

The best part? Every dollar raised went directly to students in need.