How To Take The Guesswork Out of Advancement

06/06/2016

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Many prestigious schools face a common dilemma. Young people, specifically college graduates, are more philanthropic than ever, generously donating to charitable causes.

However, these same students and graduates may also be under the impression that their own school doesn’t need their continued support. They may assume their alma mater already has plenty of money, considering endowments and rising tuition fees. Advancement offices must change these assumptions to keep their higher education fundraising at a high level.

A System For Success

Keeping up with alumni and communicating effectively with them involves more than guesswork. Many alumni associations are starting to realize the need to invest in updated information systems. New technology is now helping universities develop a system for success.

Too many alumni outreach efforts are often unorganized and stored in random Excel spreadsheets, making the data hard to access. Details about quality contacts can be missed, such as face-to-face visits versus phone calls. It doesn’t make a good impression on donors when they receive a generic email or solicitation call right after they’ve had an in-person meeting with the institution.

Reaching Out To Alumni

Any school’s Advancement or Alumni Relations department should want to know the individuals who participate in alumni activities. It is good practice to stay in constant contact with them, instead of a once-a-year fundraising request. A school’s donor base can be expanded by reaching out to alumni and inspiring participation to get more people engaged. Increasing the participation rate also helps to increase the giving rate of each participant. An enterprise reporting solution can provide all the necessary details on which alumni attended which events, who is giving, as well as assisting with scheduling donor visits.

Making effective use of the details about alumni and other donors requires an integrated system. Although not all outreach efforts are going to be successful, an enterprise reporting solution can complement and integrate with existing Student Information Systems to show what’s working, what’s not, and how to adjust to improve the results.

Cultivating Stronger Relationships

Many alumni offices have a “push” approach to fundraising, relying solely on outgoing solicitations. A “push-and-pull” approach enables schools to cultivate stronger relationships with former students — namely, push with emails, phone calls, and the like; then pull information from the alumni.

Information is sortable with an enterprise reporting solution, so planned solicitations, proposals, request intentions, etc. can all be seen in a dashboard, providing a 360-degree view of each potential donor in the system.

The end result of implementing such a system is a stronger connection between the Advancement Office and the school’s donors and alumni.

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