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Court-side rivalries and collaborations fund student papers

College newspapers at UNC and Duke University turned their storied basketball rivalry into a successful fundraising campaign by aiming at new donors, creating urgency, and collaborating to expand their capacity.

Like their post-baccalaureate counterparts, student newspapers are testing revenue streams beyond print and digital ads.

Their experiments are already yielding lessons about collaboration, messaging, urgency, and the power of college basketball.

The student newspapers of bitter sports rivals Duke University and UNC scored a win with a fundraising challenge and a jointly-produced special section, applying Table Stake #6 in an inventive way. Duke’s Chronicle and UNC’s Daily Tar Heel raked in a combined $54,552.54 in donations through a fundraising competition timed to capitalize on the schools’ storied basketball rivalry. (It’s worth noting that UNC won both the game and the overall fundraising challenge.)

“[T]he Rivalry Challenge was able to generate so much money because it hit on a message that was topical and that stirred passion in its followers. By emphasizing the Duke-UNC rivalry and incorporating the competition, both papers were able to generate excitement.”

Each paper designed their marketing to reach an expanded donor base from their institutions’ alumni. General managers Erica Perel and Chrissy Beck are already working on retaining those new donors and building on this initial success by repeating The Rivalry Challenge.