Webinar: Cultivating Student Philanthropy

Posted on 07/22/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Tuesday, September 1st at 1PM EDT (60 minutes)

Presented by Missy Kennedy, Director of Annual Giving at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

Missy Kennedy PhotoBuilding a culture of philanthropy begins with students, which is why it is so important to engage and support them before they graduate. Through events, volunteers, and multi-channel marketing efforts, you can teach students why giving matters and how they can make a difference in the life of their institution.

Register online for your entire team to learn how to develop student philanthropy programs that will entertain, educate and encourage the next generation of support for your institution.

WHAT YOU’LL DISCOVER

  • Strategies for teaching students about philanthropy’s impact
  • Tactics for engaging and supporting student groups and volunteers
  • Methods for designing successful student and senior class giving campaigns
  • Examples that have worked at other institutions
  • And more

WHAT YOU GET

  • Access to the LIVE webinar; invite your entire team (limit 1 login 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

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Missy Kennedy is the Director of Annual Giving at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she oversees the development and execution of alumni, parent, faculty-staff, and student giving campaigns. Her 15-year career in annual giving, marketing and promotions includes work with NextMedia Group and House of Blues. She holds a bachelors degree in Communication Studies from UNC Wilmington and her programs have received CASE’s Special Merit and Grand Excellence Awards.

Click here to learn more or REGISTER TODAY!

 

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Reporting Alumni Participation Rates

Posted on 07/15/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Alumni Giving ImageColleges and universities are free to publish alumni participation rates however they want within their own materials and communications. However, there are two organizations that every annual giving program should pay attention to when it comes to reporting them externally. They are the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) and US News & World Report.

CAE sends its annual VSE survey to educational institutions each summer requesting giving data for total alumni (graduate and undergraduate combined.) They also offer the option of providing additional data on undergraduate alumni specifically although it’s not required. Responses are due back around September and their annual report is published in May.

US News & World Report sends out its annual survey each April requesting data for undergraduate alumni only. This data is used as part of it’s institutional rankings as it is viewed as an “indirect measure of student satisfaction.” Using the average percentage of living alumni with bachelors degrees who gave to the school during the previous two fiscal years, it counts alumni giving as 5% of the total ranking formula. Responses are due back in May and rankings are published in September.

Both organizations include the same three questions in the surveys as it relates to alumni giving:

  • Number of alumni of record
  • Number of alumni solicited
  • Number of alumni donors

Institutional alumni participation rates are calculated by dividing the number of alumni donors by the number of alumni of record. Alumni of record counts should include living alumni with a good address. They would not include any alumni records who are marked as deceased, lost, or inactive but would include records marked with any type of “do not solicit” code. Alumni donor counts should include any alumni record with hard or soft credit for making a monetary or in-kind gift to any designation within the previous fiscal year. Married spouses would each count as a donor even if they made only one gift.

The Council for the Advancement & Support of Education (CASE) offers the following FAQ on their website on counting gifts from alumni as it relates to reporting figures to CAE. These guidelines were developed by the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations in consultation with the CASE Commission on Philanthropy. For other purposes, transparency, consistency and accountability in reporting are encouraged and in the best interests of an institution and its various constituents.
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Q: Should graduating seniors be included in alumni giving data?

A: Graduating seniors present an interesting dilemma. Often seniors make a gift in the latter part of their senior year but by the time the data is reported, they are alumni. Therefore, counting philanthropic gifts from seniors is acceptable as long as all seniors are counted among alumni of record. In other words, if gifts from graduating seniors are included in alumni giving data, then the complete cohort—all graduating seniors—must be included in the total alumni census. It is not acceptable to include seniors who donate but to exclude seniors who do not donate when calculating overall alumni giving. To report fair and accurate data, any donors reported in the numerator must have their entire cohort in the denominator.
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Q: Is it appropriate to ask alumni for a minuscule amount of money ($1, for example) just to boost the percentage of alumni giving?

A: No. Our mission to build support for our institutions is not properly served by attempting to manipulate reporting data. Energies are best spent on sound practices to increase institutional support from alumni. Whether initiated by advancement staff or volunteers, it does not build greater support for the institution to ask alumni for “an extra dollar” to boost the class participation percentage. On the other hand, asking seniors in the Class of 2008 to give $20.08 as a means to capture their interest and encourage a habit of giving would be acceptable.
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Q: Is it acceptable to count other income from alumni (such as magazine subscriptions, reunion fees, membership dues) toward alumni giving?

A: No. A good rule of thumb is to consider the donor’s intention in giving this money. If the donor intended to make a philanthropic gift to the institution, then it is a gift and should be reported. If the donor wrote a check to receive something in return—a magazine, admission to an event or membership in an organization—then the amount should not be considered in alumni giving totals, even if the donor receives a receipt from the institution.
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Q: Is it appropriate to count a single donation over multiple years to boost the percentage of alumni giving?

A: When a donor makes a single gift with the expectation that the gift is a one-time gift, it is not appropriate to count the donor in more than one reporting year. Multi-year gifts and pledges are acceptable as long as the donor made the intention of a multiple-year commitment. Taking a single gift and counting it over multiple years without the donor’s knowledge or intention is not appropriate.

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5 Ways To Boost Contact Rates

Posted on 07/08/2015 - by Dan Allenby

Lucy Answering PhoneRunning a phonathon program isn’t cheap. Recruiting and training a staff of quality callers (not to mention maintaining the hardware and software in your call center) requires a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money. Fortunately, phonathons have a lot of benefits. They have higher conversion rates than direct mail and email appeals, they’re an effective way to acquire new donors and upgrade current donors, and they’re the most efficient way to engage a lot of prospects in a personal way. But you can’t take advantage of any of these benefits if your prospects don’t pick up the phone.

Here’s are 5 ways to boost your phonathon’s contact rates and ensure that your callers talk to as many prospects as possible.

  1. Give them a heads up – Let prospects know you’ll be calling with some advance notice. Mail them a pre-call post card, send them a pre-call email, or even run a targeted pre-call ad on your facebook page.
  2. Target “phone-friendly” prospects – Don’t spend too much time calling people who have only responded to direct mail or email appeals in the past. Focus first on prospects who have responded to your phone calls in the past. For non-donor segments, try to identify those who share characteristics with your past phonathon responders.
  3. Let tired lists rest – Keep your lists as fresh as possible. Avoid calling the same prospects over and over when they don’t answer. Give segments a break after you’ve attempted them 3 or 4 times within a period of a couple weeks. After you’ve given them a break, then try putting them back in the calling pool.
  4. Mobilize – As the landline phone makes its way onto the endangered species list, it’s increasingly important to maintain good mobile phone numbers on all of your prospects. Create incentives for prospects to provide you with their mobile phone numbers and consider investing in mobile phone append services.
  5. Leave messages – Don’t assume that just because someone doesn’t answer your call that they don’t see you calling. It’s very possible that they’re screening your calls because they don’t know who you are or why your calling. Leaving a voicemail can actually increase the likelihood that they’ll answer next time you call. This is especially true for young alumni and parents.

Increasing your contact rates is key if you expect to raise more money and secure more donors through your phonathon. Remember, if you don’t hear “hello” they’ll be nothing to show.

 

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Stop!

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.

 

WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER

  • 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

WHAT YOU GET

  • 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

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

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.

WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER

  • 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

WHAT YOU GET

  • 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

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

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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