For so long, alumni members have embraced participating in their alma mater’s fundraising drives. Their way of giving back to the institutions shaped them as young adults. With schools frequently relying on fundraisers, volunteers, and donations, this group is more important than ever.
However, these ever-important fundraising dollars from alumni are increasingly harder to come by. Statistics indicate that alumni giving has sharply declined for over two-thirds of universities and colleges.
With this [worrying] information in mind, how do you increase alumni giving participation? Read on as we give you ideas on how to increase alumni donations to your school.
The first step is ensuring you have the correct data. Perhaps more importantly, ensure the data is consistently reviewed and updated accordingly.
This means your school has to monitor the careers of alumni after graduation. For instance, how many secured jobs within half a year after graduation? How many pursued higher educations? This information will allow you to gauge the giving capacities of different alumni members and tailor your donation requests accordingly.
Your alumni prospects are likely bombarded with hundreds of emails seeking their donations. It can get noisy and messy. How do you rise above all this digital clutter?
To ensure your donation requests stand out, we highly suggest taking the direct mail approach. A high-quality physical mail will do the trick. It will engage your donors’ minds and encourage them to donate. You may also consider working with a direct mail fundraising platform to streamline your campaign.
Every alumnus is different. Depending on their course and current employment status, they will have various donating capacities. Your donation requests need to put this into consideration. The first step is grouping your alumni prospects into similar groups (for example, by their college major). Only then will you be in a position to customize each request accordingly.
Statistics collected by Forbes indicate that 72% of prospects will only engage if they receive personalized messages. It is, therefore, important to send relevant donation requests to each prospect.
Prioritizing social media is especially important for your younger alumni. This group has freshly graduated and probably feels left out because of their limited donation ability.
However, they can also contribute and turn into regular givers once they’ve secured employment opportunities if adequately cultivated. Even modest donations, once pulled together, can have a major impact.
Be sure to consider the social media platforms they are using and ramp up your social media engagement strategies. You may even ask your current students to carry out this campaign for you as they are more conversant with social media. The ultimate goal is to create fruitful engagements.
Whether they are five miles or 5,000 miles away, constantly communicating with alumni on social media will keep them in the loop, making it likelier for them to donate. Keep in mind that alumni who feel like they don’t know what’s going tend to feel disconnected and will be less likely to donate to your cause.
First things first, your alumni DON’T owe you their donations simply because they studied in that institution. Their donations are out of goodwill, not a repayment.
Many schools make the mistake of assuming the alumni owe them, which reflects in their donation requests. This can often breed contempt and resentment, effectively turning away potential donors. Remember, these are people who are probably still dealing with their student loan repayments while receiving thousands of emails soliciting funds from them.
Instead, flip the coin and think about how the school’s alumni association can help the alumni. For example, you can invite them to conferences with prominent personalities where they will gain valuable information that will help them in their careers. This way, you will keep them engaged, making it easy for them to participate in your fundraisers.
Like pretty much everyone else, your alumni won’t appreciate being treated like walking ATMs. When engaging with them on social media, on your website, or via email, your content should not always focus on how they can help you fundraise. It is essential to include other information like achievements made from previous drives, upcoming alumni events, etc. This will make them feel a part of a community, not merely cash cows.
If you are using an online form, you can drastically increase your alumni giving participation by including the recurring gift option. This allows alumni, especially the fresher ones, to divide their donations into small chunks that they can comfortably donate. No matter the frequency of the recurring gifts, alumni will appreciate being able to contribute even if they don’t have a lot of funds currently. They can donate smaller recurring gifts and even surpass their original gifts.
Like everything else in life, sometimes good old persistence carries the day. You may have all the strategies in place, but if you don’t ask for donations, you will not receive them. Sometimes, you just need to keep knocking until the door is opened. Granted, you will need luck asking at the right time, but why guess when you can keep asking until the fundraising season is over?
If your requests have the right messages being relayed by the right person, your persistence will finally pay off. Needless to say, you will need to strike a balance between being persistent and downright irritating lest you turn donor prospects away.
Increasing alumni giving participation can be a daunting task, especially with alumni donations at an all-time low. However, it can be done. We have shared some strategies that will hopefully help you generate more fundraising dollars from your alumni.
Now that you are here, please check out the raft of fundraising solutions we have for you as we strive to strike long-lasting partnerships with players in the education sector.