Posted on 07/01/2015 - by Dan Allenby

StopThe Annual Fund is always going.

There’s always an upcoming mailing to produce, another phone call to make, or a new thank you note to write. There’s always a prospect who has yet to connect (or reconnect) with your institution. There are always reports to run, pledgers to remind, and volunteers to support.

Annual Fund campaigns are like life. The most dramatic stuff happens at the beginning and the end, but it’s what happens in the middle that defines.

So when you find yourself at the end of your fundraising year, be sure to stop. Get away. Take a vacation. Don’t think about it. Clean the slate.

Because when you come back, it starts all over again.

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Webinar: Successful Crowdfunding

Posted on 06/24/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Tuesday, August 4th at 1PM EDT (60 minutes)

Presented by Meredith Blair, Executive Director of Annual Giving at UC San Diego

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Meredith_Blair_Head ShotCrowdfunding is about more than just raising money online. It’s a tool to help engage students and faculty, generate awareness, and build a culture of philanthropy. It can also help identify new fundraising opportunities while highlighting the innovative work that takes place on your campus every day.

Whether you’re just starting out or trying improve on your existing crowdfunding program, understanding best practices will ensure that you get the highest return for your time and budget.



  • Processes for identifying and supporting viable projects
  • Methods for engaging leadership and driving participation
  • Guidelines for ensuring proper stewardship and retention
  • Examples of successful projects from different institutions
  • And more


  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your entire team (limit 1 connection per registration)
  • Have your questions answered by an expert
  • Copies of the presentation materials and resources
  • List of event participants so you can expand your network
  • Link to watch a recording of the webinar following the live event


Meredith Blair is the Executive Director of Annual Giving & Regional Advancement at The University of California San Diego, where she oversees multi-channel marketing and development programs across the university. Previously, she served as the Associate Vice President for Annual Giving at Oklahoma State University and as an Executive Communications Specialist at Southwest Airlines. An active instructor and presenter with CASE, she holds a M.A. in Literature and a B.A. in Communications from the University of North Texas.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!


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4 Tips for Annual Fund Success

Posted on 06/17/2015 - by Dan Allenby

SuccessDon’t settle for mediocrity.

You owe it to your institution to run the best annual fund possible. But that’s no easy task in an industry that complicated, constantly changing and filled with competition.

Here’s some advice to help you accomplish your goals and become the best annual giving professional you can be.

1. Study – Get to know everything you can about your institution. Click through its website, read the alumni magazine, take a campus tour, or check out a book on its history. Ask a faculty member to lunch or coffee lunch. They’ll have plenty to tell you, not just about the institution, but about the teaching and research their doing on through the institution.

2. Participate – Become an active member in the life of your institution. Attend lectures, join the fitness center, go to games, audit a class, or volunteer to help during an event. Have you liked the alumni Facebook page? Joined it LinkedIn group? Are you following on Twitter? Participating in the life of the institution not only gives perspective, but it equips you with stories and examples that you can share with others.

3. Benchmark – Get to know what’s going on at other institutions. This will not only help you understand what makes your institution unique but it will show you where your institution has opportunities to grow. Attend conferences, subscribe to newsletters, read magazines, blogs and other publications. Network!

4. Give – Support your institution. It’ll not only help you appreciate things like how long it takes for a gift receipt to arrive or how your name appears on a donor roster, but it will give you the moral authority to ask others for their support. There’s nothing more empowering then being able to say “join me.”

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Tuition Freedom Day

Posted on 06/10/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Tuition Freedom Image 2It’s no secret that the cost of higher education is rising at an alarming rate. Many parents lay awake at night worrying about how they will be able to afford to send their children to college. But few institutions have done a good job explaining why costs have risen so steeply.

While the cost of energy and employee benefits are significant factors, many student and parents don’t realize that their own expectations are a major reason why tuition had increased so much. There was a time when college students may have been satisfied with a bunk and a book. Today, schools feel pressure to offer rock-climbing walls, wifi, and single apartments if they want to attract the best students.

In some industries, competition drives costs down. For example, imagine that you own a shoe store that sells one brand of shoes for $50. Then, someone comes along and opens a store next door selling that brand pair of shoes for $40. All things equal, you’ll have to lower your price by $10 in order to remain competitive. The opposite is true in for many educational institutions. Imagine two universities that are competing for the same students. All things equal, if one university builds a brand new student exercise facility then the other one may feel compelled to do the same in order to remain competitive.

Money doesn’t grow on trees and there aren’t many ways for educational institutions to generate revenue to cover rising costs. Many colleges and universities rely on tuition to cover a majority of their operating budgets. This means that when costs go up for whatever reason, tuition may the only way to cover the additional expenses. Philanthropy can be a great alternative.

At Kalamazoo College in Michigan, tuition covers approximately 67% of cost to run the college. Donations cover a large portion of the remaining expenses. To highlight this point, the annual fund team sponsors “Tuition Freedom Day” which marks the approximate point in the academic year when tuition revenue would theoretically “run out” and philanthropic support would take over.

“Many of our student volunteers spend the day writing thank you notes to donors”, says Laurel Palmer, Director of the Kalamazoo Fund. “Because there are many different ways to support the college, we make a point of sending notes to all types of donors, not just those who make big endowment or capital gifts.”

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Text Trivia

Posted on 06/03/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Text PhilExplaining philanthropy to students requires some creative thinking, which is why the annual giving team at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington launched its Phil Campaign. Short for Philanthropy, “Phil” is a fictional character created by the annual giving team as a way to teach students about philanthropy.

One of the most innovative parts of the Phil campaign is the text trivia program. Based on an app developed by two faculty members, students can register to receive a text message every other week. It’s sent on Thursday after lunch includes a multiple-choice question about philanthropy at the university. Every student who responds with the correct answer is eligible to win a prize, which has been donated by a local business. All prizes are worth $50 or more.

“Text trivia has been a great way to educate students about philanthropy. It not only helps to deliver important information to students, but it lets us know that they’re learning the things we want them to know about,” said Missy Kennedy, Director of Annual Giving at UNC Wilmington. “More than 80% of the students respond with a correct answer each time.”

Another unexpected benefit of the program is that it has given the annual giving team a way to collect mobile phone numbers from students – something that will help the office stay connected long after they graduate and become alumni.

Here’s a sample question. Thousands of alumni give to UNCW every year. Which class do you think had the most donors last year?

a.) Class of 2012

b.) Class of 1988

c.) Class of 1954

The correct answer is “a”. Even though recent graduates are new in their careers many still make UNCW a philanthropic priority.

Click here to learn more about UNCW’s text trivia program.

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Webinar: Mining Social Media Data

Posted on 05/27/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Thursday, July 16th at 1pm EDT (75 min)

Presented by Tim Ponisciak – Director of Graduate Alumni Relations at the University of Notre Dame

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Tim Ponisciak PhotoAnnual Giving and Alumni Relations programs today are thinking outside of their own databases. Today, Social media not only provides a great tool for engaging and communicating with alumni, donors, and volunteers, but it can also provide access to information that’s even more current, accurate and relevant than what you already have. Mining social media data can tell you where your constituents are, what they’re doing, and how they feel.

Register online to learn how to use social media data to inform your annual giving and alumni relations strategies.


  • Methods for identifying potential donors and volunteers through social media
  • Guidelines for monitoring social media content to determine which topics and tones will resonate with your alumni and donors
  • Tactics for analyzing and reporting on social media activity
  • Examples that have worked at other institutions
  • And more


  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your entire team (limit 1 connection per registration)
  • Have your questions answered by an expert
  • Copies of the presentation materials and resources
  • List of event participants so you can expand your network
  • Link to watch a recording of the webinar following the live event


Tim Ponisciak is the Director of Graduate Alumni Relations at The University of Notre Dame where he oversees the college’s social media, events, and volunteer activities for the college of business. Previously he worked in Notre Dame’s central annual giving office where he was responsible for the university’s young alumni and student fundraising activities.

He’s an active presenter with CASE and holds an MBA and BBA’s in Marketing and Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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Answer Your Phone

Posted on 05/20/2015 - by Dan Allenby

There’s nothing more disheartening to a phonathon manager then a center filled with callers listening to phones rings and voice-mail greetings. Unfortunately, for many annual fund programs, this is the new reality.

Gone are the days when reaching prospects required little more than dialing. Thanks to caller ID, mobile devices, and the negative stigma associated with telemarketing, alumni (particularly young alumni) are less and less likely to answer when their alma mater calls. Today the likelihood that a prospect will even pick up is less than 50%. This is troubling because phone solicitations typically have much higher donor conversion rates than other channels like direct mail or email. What’s more is that phonathon programs can be expensive to maintain.

After watching their own contact rates decline for years, the annual fund team at University at Buffalo decided to start thinking outside the box. Earlier this year, they sent “pre-solicitation” postcards to alumni that offered a chance to win a $250 Amex gift certificate just for answering the phone…regardless of whether or not they made a gift.

SUNY Buffalo Answer The Call Postcard

“Our goal was to get more alumni (especially younger alumni) to answer our calls,” said Dawn Baumgarten, Director of Annual Programs at University at Buffalo. “When they do, it not only gives us an opportunity to update their contact information, but it also allows us to re-engage them in a personal way. Soliciting donations from our most recent graduates almost becomes secondary.”

The annual fund team didn’t roll out the idea all at once. Instead they decided to test, splitting the prospect list into three groups and rolling it out in phases during the year. Preliminary results showed a 13% in increase in contact rates and a 2% increase in the overall pledge rate compared to groups that did not receive the postcard. Baumgarten notes that they’ll continue to test this idea and other creative ways to integrate marketing channels and improve results.SUNY Buffalo Answer The Call Postcard_Back

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Second Asks

Posted on 05/14/2015 - by Dan Allenby

LadderOne of the oldest taglines in annual giving goes like this: make a gift now and we won’t ask again for another year. However, there are a growing number of programs today that can’t make that claim. Why? Because they’re implementing “second asks” – going back to donors who have already made a gift and asking them for additional support. Although some programs are reluctant to take this approach for fear of offending donors or hurting future retention rates, Rutgers isn’t one of them.

“We’ve been doing second asks years,” says Gina Fiorillo, Director of Annual Giving at The Rutgers University Foundation. “Typically we run two second ask campaigns – one in January and one in May. In January, we reach out to donors who’s previous gift was made between June and November. Then, in May, we target donors who’s previous gift was made between December and March. Sometimes the second asks is for a particular fund like the President’s Fund or Scholarships. But we’ve seen better response rates when we ask donors to support a specific area that we already know they care about. It’s not unusual for us to see as many as 3,500 second gifts in a year…sometimes that adds up to more than $350,000.”

Some programs find that second asks provide a great way to upgrade donors. For example, if someone has been contributing $750 consistently, a second ask for $250 can serve as a way to increase their total giving to $1,000 and welcome them as a member of a leadership gift society. For programs that encourage unrestricted support first time around, a second ask can be a way for them to support a special interest like a department or an athletic team.

The big question for many annual giving professionals is what happens after someone makes a second gift? Does their likelihood of giving in the following decrease? Surprisingly, no. In fact, the more gifts a donor contributes in a single year, the more likely they are to renew their support the following year according to Target Analytics. “At Rutgers, a donor is 13% more likely to renew if they make a second gift, and 23% more likely to renew if they make 3 or more gifts in a year, says Fiorillo.”

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Even when you do succeed, it may be worth trying again.

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The Ripley Society

Posted on 05/06/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Harold RipleyHarold C. Ripley graduated from Dartmouth College in 1929. He was famous for his bowties, his sense of humor, and his loyalty to Dartmouth. In fact “Rip” gave to the College through the annual fund for 83 consecutive years—from his graduation in 1929 until his death in September 2011 at the age of 104.

The Harold C. Ripley ’29 Society was formed in 2009 to honor Rip and to recognize alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to giving through the Dartmouth College Fund every year since graduation. Today, there are more than 5,000 members.

One of the things that makes this recognition society unique is that it’s as much about looking forward as it is looking back. Prior to graduation, members of Dartmouth’s senior class are asked to join the Ripley Society with a gift as a senior and a pledge to support Dartmouth every year after graduation. “We launched it during Class Day,” says Sylvia Racca, Executive Director of the Dartmouth College Fund. “It’s always been very simple. Seniors are able to join by making a gift to the annual fund and signing a pledge card that they will continue to do so every year (they’re not required to specify a dollar amount). Once they make a gift and sign, they are a member of the Ripley Society and the membership is “theirs to lose” if they do not make a gift every year.  They have one more chance to join the first year after graduation.

Unlike a lot of university “loyalty societies”, the Ripley Society is only promoted to students and alumni in the first year after graduation. The program isn’t marketed to the general alumni population since if you don’t join in your senior year or in the first year following your graduation, you’ve missed your opportunity.

The program was successful from the beginning and it helped the college to increase the participation in the recent classes  from around 30% to over 50%. Today it continues to be an important part of Dartmouth’s annual giving efforts. It has a dedicated webpage, which includes a space where members can share stories about how Dartmouth impacted their life and why they support the College every year.

“Rip told me that after he graduated, he knew he wouldn’t be around in 100 years, so he wanted to give to an organization that would be around and would be doing good in the world”, said Racca. “He knew that would be Dartmouth.  What he didn’t know then was that 100 years later he would still be around.  The most special part of this story for me is that one of the last things Rip did was to make a gift to Dartmouth. He passed away on a Friday and we received his gift through the mail  the following Monday.”

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Webinar: Developing an Annual Fund Plan

Posted on 04/29/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Thursday, June 11th at 1pm EDT (60 min)

Presented by John Templeman – Director of Annual Giving at Case Western Reserve University

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

John Templeman PictureDeveloping a plan before the fiscal year begins is the first step toward achieving your Annual Fund goals. Start next year on a good note with a strategy that defines success and outlines the necessary steps to achieve it.

Register online for your entire team to learn how to develop a winning plan for your Annual Fund.



  • Guidelines for structuring your plan, setting goals, and scheduling appeals
  • Tactics for segmenting your prospect pools and organizing your marketing efforts
  • Methods for analyzing progress and making adjustments throughout the year
  • Examples of plans from various institutions
  • And more


  • Access to the LIVE webinar: invite your entire team
  • Guarantee to have your questions answered by an expert
  • Copies of the presentation materials and resources
  • List of event participants so you can expand your network
  • Link to watch a recording of the webinar for 60 days following the live event


John Templeman is the Director of Annual Giving at Case Western Reserve University where works with schools and colleges to plan and execute direct mail, phone and online marketing strategies. His 16 year career in annual giving includes work at Cleveland State University and Baldwin Wallace University. John serves on the board for the Independent College Advancement Associates. He holds a certificate in non-profit management from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Bowling Green State.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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