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Optimize Fundraising

5 Best Practices for Collegiate Fundraising 101


You don’t have to be a PhD to know that fundraising for higher education can be a challenging endeavor. Although charitable donations to colleges hit a record $40.3 billion in 2015, a whopping 29 percent of that total went to just 20 schools.

If your institution wasn’t one of those that made it into the top 20, how can you fine-tune your fundraising strategies to reach your specific benchmarks? Below, we’ve compiled five best practices to school you on how to increase your ROI.

1. Rev-Up Your Web Presence 

It’s a no-brainer, you need a well designed website to make donating to your organization as simple and seamless as possible — but successful campaigns go far beyond a solid user interface. A cohesive fundraising initiative needs to connect with past alumni on all avenues of social media too. This includes sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat.

For example, boosting your presence on a professionally oriented site like LinkedIn can help you locate and connect with alumni from years past that may not show up in current records. And for the younger set, creating compelling videos on apps like Snapchat can help you appeal to millennials.

2. Give a Little, Get a Lot

Don't forget, it’s not all about asking for donations. Make sure that you maintain a relationship with alumni beyond just asking them for money. Keep them up-to-date with current events on campus and alumni activities. For recent graduates, send them tips for job searches. For older graduates, try organizing alumni reunions. The goal, of course, is to keep your institute on the alumni’s radar  — making it more likely they’ll contribute when asked.

3. Get Personal

Instead of asking for general donations drill down on what will appeal directly to an individual alumni. Raising money to upgrade a specific campus building, or sending a group of students to study/volunteer abroad will project a more compelling message than reaching out for general funds. Go further and create stories that will resonate with the alumni, focusing on their areas of study.

4. Set Custom-Built Ask Amounts

One size does NOT fit all when it comes to fundraising — especially regarding ask amounts. By utilizing advanced analytic software you can personalize how much you ask from donors based on their capacity to donate AND what they are willing to donate. Personalized ask amounts have proven to be much more effective than merely leaving the amount to the discretion of the donor.

5. Reward and Recognize

The concept of rewarding good behavior goes back to getting an “Awesome Work!” sticker in elementary school. No matter what our age, everybody wants to be recognized for a job well done, or well donated. It’s exceedingly important to thank donors for their support and tell them how their gifts were used before asking them to make another gift.

There are a myriad ways to recognize and honor donors: awards, mentions in alumni periodicals, press releases, a photo or mention on social media. Research bears out the importance of donor acknowledgment. According to Jen Shang, a philanthropic psychologist, “To give money, people need to then be satisfied with the ways that organizations treat them as supporters.”

If you continue to treat your alumni right, they’ll be much more likely to donate to your cause when it comes time to ask for their support.

To learn more about how using personalized ask amounts can help you boost your college fundraising efforts, contact us for a free demo.