Guestblog written by Amanda Greenhoe, Coordinator of Development Communications and Marketing, Calvin College

In 2009, an interactive fundraising website started saving the rainforest.

Conservation International’s Protect an Acre campaign featured a rainforest map, of which users could protect a grid square—an “acre”—displaying their name and hometown. The site was aptly rewarded with a Webby.

Today Conservation International continues this ongoing campaign with a giving page, though the interactive grid has come and gone. It is with great gratitude to Conservation International that I offer an overview of Calvin College’s Sponsor A Square Inch project, which employs similar capabilities as the Protect an Acre campaign, while conceptually relating to the institution-specific messaging of Calvin College.

Calvin College is four-year, Christian liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a

graduate of Calvin myself, I can attest to the way the school opened my mind to fresh concepts and my heart to new ways of bringing together the powerful forces of passion and compassion.

This is, in part, because of the college’s embrace of theologian Abraham Kuyper’s regard for every square inch of creation. Kuyper declared in the 19th century a notion that the Calvin community still clings to today: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

In short, we affirm that God cares about every corner of creation, so we educate with that truth in mind. Our business students can be part of transforming corporations, our social workers can help rebuild families, our engineers can innovate in ways that care for both people and the land they live on.

But to believe that every square inch of the entire world is important, well, that’s a belief that starts at home. Students and supporters alike realize the value of every corner of campus, from the art studio to the chemistry lab. So we thought we would give supporters a chance to show their passion for every square inch of Calvin.

Conservation International’s grid model fit perfectly with this concept. We decided to work with a third party web development agency to construct a grid overlay on an aerial map of campus, giving donors a chance to symbolically support one or more “square inches” for just $10 each. Note: The square inches are not to scale, because there are more than two billion square inches on campus (and that would make for a map that is quite dense and perhaps unreadable—especially on mobile devices).

Our supporters have reveled in the chance to share their passion for one area of campus while supporting the holistic work of the college through our annual fund. We started the project in early May and donors have already sponsored over 700 square inches. We have also welcomed many new donors to the Calvin “family” of supporters through the project.

While the national trend for nonprofits is to drop in donor count every year, we hope that the Sponsor A Square Inch project will help us acquire, retain, and renew a substantial number of supporters—bucking the trend and coming out ahead in our fiscal year end donor count.

After all, one of the best square inches of campus is still available. Where’s the best square inch on campus? See for yourself at http://sponsor.calvin.edu.