Webinar: Faculty & Staff Giving

Posted on 11/18/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Thursday, January 7th at 1PM EDT (75 minutes)

Presented by Lace Taylor, Director of Annual Giving at the University of Tennessee

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Lance_TaylorFaculty and staff giving campaigns not only help to raise money for your annual fund, but they can be instrumental in creating a culture of philanthropy at your institution. Whether you’re just starting out or refining your existing efforts, a strong employee-giving program can improve collaboration between departments, strengthen the sense of campus community, and broaden your base of support.

Register online to learn how to plan and execute a successful faculty and staff fundraising campaign for your organization.


  • Methods for setting goals that align with campus priorities
  • Tactics for recruiting, training, and stewarding volunteers
  • Guidelines for developing messages and solicitations that resonate with employees
  • Examples from other institutions
  • And more!


  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your team
  • 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
  • Premier Members get unlimited access to all webinars. Click here to learn more!


Lance Taylor is the Director of Annual Giving at the University of Tennessee where he oversees integrated fundraising efforts including crowdfunding, giving days, and constituency-based programs for students, faculty, and staff. He holds a BS in Business Administration and is currently completing a MS in Human Resources Management at The University of Tennesse’s Haslam College of Business and is a recipient of the prestigious Torchbearer Award and the Bank of America Leadership Award.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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Capacity and Inclination

Posted on 11/11/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Magnifying GlassAccording to a recent AGN poll, 51 percent annual giving professionals report that they are the one’s who are primarily responsible for identifying annual fund leadership gift prospects with the remainder citing research staff (24 percent) or major gift officers (15 percent.) The other 10 percent reported that they were either not sure or that no one is responsible (on no!)

Next time you set out to find someone with leadership gift potential, keep in mind that all good prospects have two common characteristics: capacity and inclination.

When a prospect has capacity, it means that they have the financial ability to make a leadership gift. There are several ways to identify capacity. Analyzing their biographic and demographic characteristics is a good start. For example, having a zip code from an affluent area (e.g., 90210), a senior level job title (e.g., CEO, Vice President), or an advanced degree (e.g., JD, MBA, MD) can all point to the possibility of wealth. Past giving can also be an indicator of capacity. For example, if someone donated $1,000 in the past, it suggests that they may have the means to do it again in the future.
Who identifies LG Prospects Poll

When someone has inclination, it means they have some interest in making a gift. Similar to capacity, there could be many clues within your data (and other data sources) that can reveal something about someone’s inclination. For example, there’s a correlation between past giving, event attendance, volunteering, and even updated contact information (e.g., email, phone number, home address) and the likelihood that someone will make a gift in the future. In other words, these things can be a sign of donor inclination.

Of course, not everyone will have the same level of capacity and inclination, which is why it helps to have some kind of scoring system that allows you to track and compare prospects. For example, assign alphabetical codes to prospect records on a scale of A through E so that A suggests very high capacity and E suggests very low capacity. Then assign numeric codes on a scale of 1 through 5 so that 1 suggests very high inclination and 5 suggests very low inclination. This will help you and others prioritize prospects. For example, someone coded as an A2 could be a better prospect than someone coded as an A3 and someone coded as a C1 could be a better prospect than a B5.

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The Circled Caller

Posted on 11/04/2015 - by Dan Allenby

It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to run a phonathon. That’s why, as call centers struggle with the challenge of getting prospects to answer the phone, it’s increasingly important to find ways to run programs efficiently without losing the personal touch that makes calling so effective in the first place.

At the beginning of each semester at Humboldt State University, the Phonathon gathers its student callers for a group photo. The image is used create postcards. Then, after every successful call, students use these postcards to write a handwritten thank you note on the back. On the front, they circle themselves.

Humbolt State U. Postcard Image_Front“We implemented this idea several ago”, says Travis Williams, Director of Annual Giving at Humboldt State. “In a time of when telephone contact rates are declining, we wanted a way to personalize each and every call. The postcard not only allows us to thank our donors, but it reconnects them to the students.”

Williams jokes that the hardest part is getting all of the callers in one place at one time. He adds that another challenge is coordinating the postcards with the normal pledge letter process. This is overcome by attaching a sticky note (with donor database ID) to the postcard, so it can be inserted into the mail package during production.

“The best part is that this simple idea has led to a culture change in the call room”, says Williams. “Students now treat every phone call as a personal and ongoing conversation with alumni.”

Humbolt State U. Postcard Image_Back


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The “Ations” of Student Philanthropy

Posted on 10/28/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Involve MeFor educational institutions, building a culture of philanthropy begins by teaching students about the importance of donor support and showing them how it can make a difference in the life of their institution. The reason students go to school is to learn. It’s hard to imagine a more opportune time to teach them about philanthropy then while they’re right there on campus.

Borrowing the idea from another institution, The University of Central Florida Foundation found a way to teach students about philanthropy that is both clever and engaging. As part of their celebration of Student Philanthropy Week, they created a daily theme that encouraged students to think about and take part in a unique aspect of philanthropy. Since each theme shared a common suffix, each theme is playfully referred to an “ation.”

  • Education Day – Students were given token gifts (e.g., mugs, apparel) with printed facts or statistics related to philanthropy and its impact on the university.
  • Appreciation Day – Students were asked to produce handwritten thank you notes to donors. The Foundation provided stationary, lists, bullet points and place to write.
  • Participation Day – Students were asked to make their own gift of $19.63 in honor of the founding year of the university.
  • Celebration Day – Students celebrated the week’s end by signing a banner and displaying it in the Student Union. They were also invited to attend a Philanthropy Symposium of donors that was moderated by the Student Philanthropy Council Chair.

Offering structure to the week’s events not only gave students a variety of different ways to get involved and learn, but it allowed the foundation staff to do a more thorough job of teaching about important topics without glossing over them in generic way.

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Webinar: Reunion & Affinity Giving

Posted on 10/21/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Tuesday, December 8th at 1PM EDT (75 minutes)

Presented by Amy Wilson, Director of The Stanford Fund and Direct Marketing at Stanford University

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Amy_Wilson_Photo_smReunion and affinity-based fundraising can be a key component of annual giving strategy. Whether you’re managing a class gift campaign, coordinating affinity group or employer based giving programs, or managing a special interest project, you need a well-designed plan that engages your prospects and volunteers, increases their participation, and achieves your fundraising goals–while ensuring your staff and budget resources are deployed strategically.

Register online to learn how to plan and execute a successful affinity and class-based giving strategy for your institution.


  • Methods for recruiting, training, and motivating volunteers in ways that maximize results and minimize headaches.
  • Guidelines for developing innovative segmentation and compelling messaging to drive support within these groups
  • Tactics for gaining buy-in from campus partners including major gifts and alumni relations
  • Recommendations for planning activities and events that balance resources and results.
  • Examples from different institutions
  • And more!


  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your entire team
  • 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


Amy Wilson is the Director of The Stanford Fund and Direct Marketing at Stanford University where she oversees integrated solicitation and stewardship programs including undergraduate reunion giving, young alumni giving and student philanthropy. Previously, she served as the Director of Class Giving & Student Advancement at The University of Chicago and the Director of Annual Giving at the Northwestern University School of Law. She is an active member of the Annual Giving Director’s Consortium and holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and a B.S. from Eastern Michigan University.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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Writing an Appeal Letter

Posted on 10/14/2015 - by Dan Allenby

TypewriterDirect mail appeals come in many different shapes and sizes. The variety of images and text you select for your brochures, pamphlets, and postcards offer an endless combination of ways to convey your message and ask for support. But sometimes, nothing beats a good old fashioned letter.

When you sit down to write an appeal letter, the first thing you should do is to determine the audience. Are you asking someone to make a gift for the first time or are you addressing a group of consistent donors? Are you hoping to win back a supporter who has lapsed or are you trying to upgrade someone to a leadership level? Are you writing to alumni, parents, faculty or staff? The more you know about your audience, the better you can address them in a personal and meaningful way.

Perfection is the enemy of progress, so don’t get hung up trying to make your letter perfect the first time through. Just get something written down – a first draft is a big step. You can focus on making it “good” later on. Here are a few ideas to consider to help get your next appeal letter started:

  • Grab the readers attention at the very beginning with a story, question or quote.
  • Share a example of gift impact. Mention a specific student, faculty member, or someone else who has a benefited from donor support.
  • Use the word “you” as much as possible.
  • Don’t bury the ask. Suggest an amount and describe what it will achieve. Explain the consequences of inaction.
  • Highlight the things that are most important (e.g., the ask, goals, deadlines) by using italics, bold type, and underlining.
  • Use a post script. It’s one of the first things people read.

Lastly, review and revise your letter several times. Get a colleague (or several colleagues) to read it and make suggestions. Remember that nothing is ever well written, only well re-written.

Direct Mail Fundamentals

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5 Tips for #GivingTuesday

Posted on 10/07/2015 - by Dan Allenby

GivingTuesday image#GivingTuesday in an online event that takes place on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Its purpose is to celebrate and support philanthropy and to kick-off the charitable giving season. Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday was initially conceived as an alternative to the commercially driven Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year #GivingTuesday will take place on December 1st.

According to an AGN poll, 32% of educational institutions (i.e., colleges, universities, independent schools) participated in #GivingTuesday last year. Many of those who elected not to participate reported “too much competition from other charities on that day” as their reason. Alternatively, many schools launched their own “Giving Day” – many of which occurred in the spring. In fact, 77% of educational institutions reported that they are either planning or have already held a Giving Day of their own.

If your institution is planning to join in #GivingTuesday this year, consider setting a participation goal. Not sure what that goal should be? Figure out how many people gave on December 1st last year and increase it by 10%. Then, try these 5 things to encourage your alumni, parents, and friends to give back.

  1. Send an email announcing that it’s #GivingTuesday and asking for support.
  2. Ask volunteers to change their Facebook profile pictures to your organization’s logo and spread the word through their social networks using your institutions #hashtag and the #GivingTuesday hashtag.
  3. Populate your institution’s social feeds with stories and pictures about gift impact.
  4. Focus your phonathon scripts to mention #GivingTuesday early in the call.
  5. Tweet thanks to @everyone who makes a gift using the hashtag #GivingTuesday.

Click here to learn more about #GivingTuesday.


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2015 Salary & Professional Development Survey

Posted on 09/30/2015 - by Dan Allenby

CareerAre you an annual giving professional at an educational institution? Do you care about professional development? Would you like some data to help advance your your program and career? If so, take a minute to complete AGN’s 2015 Salary & Professional Development Survey, which will unlock the answers to the following questions…and more!

  • Are you paid equitably?
  • Does your department offer salaries that are competitive enough?
  • How much experience is required to take the next step in your career?
  • Which advanced degrees will give you the biggest advantage?
  • What are the most common obstacles to success for annual giving professionals?

The survey report will be completed soon. Sign-up for AGN email updates (to the right) to be notified when it’s available for download.

Annual Giving Network (AGN) helps fundraisers advance their programs and careers. As the world’s leading resource for annual giving professionals, AGN provides access to training, webinars, workshops, case studies, and the latest research.

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The Stereotypical Donor

Posted on 09/23/2015 - by Dan Allenby

StereoIn real life, giving patterns vary. Every donor gives in a manner and at times that are uniquely right for them. For many institutions, the majority of alumni won’t even make a single gift during their lifetime. Few will ever make a major or planned gift.

In the life of the stereotypical alumni donor, however, a giving pattern might look like this:

  • Before graduation, they make their first gift through the senior class gift campaign
  • 1-15 years out, they make consistent donations to the annual fund
  • 15-30 years out, they make leadership gifts to the annual fund
  • 30+ years out, they make a major gift or planned gift

These stages suggest a model or ideal for cultivating alumni in a way that’s more likely to be in line with their own circumstances. For example, it’s probably not realistic to expect a recent graduate to be able to make a major gift since they are just starting out in their careers and are only beginning to accumulate assets. Nor is it realistic to expect someone who has never donated before to make a major or planned gift if the institution has done nothing to build a relationship with them over time.

Encouraging people to move through these various stages of giving is often referred to as building a pipeline and it’s one of the most important functions of an annual giving program. It begins with identifying and acquiring new donors, encouraging their consistent support, and raising their sights in a way that leads to their increased giving over time. A strong pipeline will ultimately produce a pool of prospects that have been regularly solicited, appropriately stewarded, and prepared for a conversation about a major or planned gift.

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Webinar: Leadership Gifts for Annual Funds

Posted on 09/16/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Tuesday, November 3rd at 1PM EDT (75 minutes)

Presented by Laura Tepper, Director of Individual Gifts at the University of Pennsylvania

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Laura_Tepper_Head_ShotIn almost any fundraising effort, the majority of the money raised will come from a few top donors. Annual Funds are no exception. Building a strong leadership giving program for your Annual Fund will not only help to achieve fundraising success today, but it will help to create a pipeline of future major gifts that will benefit your institution for years to come.

Register online for your entire team to learn how to build a strong leadership giving program for your Annual Fund.


  • Methods for identifying, stewarding and soliciting your top prospects
  • Tactics for upgrading donors through gift clubs and other channels
  • Guidelines for securing annual fund gifts from major gift prospects
  • Examples that have worked at other institutions
  • And more


  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your entire
  • 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


Laura Tepper is the Director of Individual Gifts at the University of Pennsylvania. Her 15 year career includes work in annual giving and major gifts and her expertise include leadership gift strategy, volunteer management, reunion giving, direct appeals, and phonathons. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

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