December 02, 2011

University Thanks Big Donors With a Rap Video

To thank donors who paid for a new $32-million sports center, Bowling Green State University produced a video featuring some of those very same supporters.

The donors were game. They wore basketball uniforms and tried to bounce and spin a basketball, while acting tough on camera. The video, which was shown at the dedication of the Stroh Center in September, also featured a college student rapping about the donors' big gifts, while showing the buildings and the basketball court named after them. Watch how the student, Mikey (Rosco) Blair, raps "philanthropy":

"It tells a story and it entertains," says Mary Ellen Gillespie, associate athletics director for external relations. "It has become the 'wow' that we wanted it to be."

Now the university is showing the video to potential students and donors in off-campus events.

Here's how the video came about:

Dave Kielmeyer, a Bowling Green spokesman, says campus officials approached the big donors with a plan to do something creative, different, and memorable to celebrate their contributions and the opening of the new arena.

The original concept was a video about a pick-up game between the big donors, who would sneak into the building before it opened, and the basketball team. But that was too difficult to stage. So, the video producer, Rob Seiffert, a 2000 alumnus, recast the effort with Plan B: the rap.

He wrote the lyrics and the university held auditions for a rapper.

"That's the part that took a little guts," Mr. Kielmeyer says. "To trust the creative guys and let them execute this. We had to run it by the donors and make sure they were comfortable."

The donors approved and have been pleased with the outcome. They've been sending the videos to their children and grandchildren, Mr. Kielmeyer says.

"We had a strong enough relationship with our donors to try this," Mr. Kielmeyer says. "They trusted the institution. We wanted to do something fun. We weren't going to do anything that would embarrass them or jeopardize our relationship."

Read more about how to make good thank-you videos in my post earlier this week.