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Universities rely heavily on donations to continue delivering quality education, supporting their student bodies and offering top facilities. However, research found that in spite of much effort, the majority of donations made to universities went to an elite handful that already enjoy well-funded perks. Although US universities cumulatively raised over $40 billion in 2015, more needs to be done to attract the donations that they need. As #GivingTuesday approaches, let’s explore how universities leverage this event to boost their fundraising campaigns and reach their goals.
Launch a new initiative on the day - Like many charities, universities can use #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to launch a new program, initiative or campaign, tapping into valuable exposure and reach on the day. Recently, The University of Virginia announced ‘The Class Giving’ campaign, which encouraged all of its fourth year students to donate to a contracted independent organization, school or athletic team of their choice. “Our goal is not necessarily dollars raised — while we think that’s important, we want to make sure that we’re engaging with as much of the class as possible,” said Adib Choudhury, co-chair of the Class of 2018 Giving Campaign. This is the perfect example of an all year-round campaign that could easily be launched on #GivingTuesday.
Let staff and students tell YOUR story - Fundraising is about much more than just asking for donations, it’s about sharing the story of your institution, your people and your collective passions. So use #GivingTuesday to show existing and potential donors more about the ethos of your institution and the character of the students. Give them those all important reasons WHY they should support you both now and in the future. Share stories of what your staff and students are doing for #GivingTuesday, what causes they are supporting, what difference they have made in their community. Giving your donors an insight into the people and heart of your institution is a sure fire way to create long term connections with supporters, which is vital for increasing and sustaining donations.
Tap into the ‘Millennial Mindset’- Leverage the talent within your institution! The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is well documented example of how simple initiative can go viral and raise serious money, so why not engage with your students and invite them to come up with videos, visuals and creative ideas for new fundraising campaigns? It is important to understand how technology is evolving and affecting fundraising strategies and universities risk getting left behind if they don’t tap into these new areas. Pinterest and Instagram are now the fastest growing social networks and younger people are much more familiar with how to penetrate these platforms and gaining traction, so make the most of the talent you have available on your doorstep.
Encourage monthly giving - #GivingTuesday is the perfect diary date to remind your supporters of the good work that their donations are supporting and to encourage them to increase their donations or sign up to monthly donations. Recurring donations are pivotal to setting an organization up for longevity and success and existing donors are more likely to be consider making regular gifts when they are already engaged and in the process of lending their support.
Leverage Alumni networks - #GivingTuesday is an ideal opportunity to reach out to your Alumni networks and encourage further donations from those already connected with the institution. However, undertaking some prospect research is vital when communicating with Alumni members so that you have a clear idea of who to target, because often, large amounts of funding may come from just a few wealthy donors. Macalester College in Minnesota is a small institution with less than 2,000 undergraduates and only 164 full-time staff. Yet the they are currently in the middle of a major international fundraising drive to generate $150 million over five years. Of the $106 million which has already been raised, $40 million has come from just three donors.
Whilst fundraising is a year-round activity for universities, these tips clearly show that #GivingTuesday the perfect event in the charity calendar to leverage in order to boost donations, incentivise existing supporters and reach out to new ones.
Visit us online to see how Nexis® for Development Professionals can help you find the right donor prospects and maximize your contributions.
guest contributor- Jenna M