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The sun is shining. The swimming pool beckons. But vacation season does not change your fundraising goals. So, how do you maintain your momentum when the distractions of summer are making your alumni donors tune out? Use these helpful tips for enhancing your alumni engagement efforts.
Conduct an Effectiveness Evaluation
Take a hard look at your key metrics around donor engagement, donor retention, average gift amount, number of major gifts, and solicitation response rates. Are these metrics rising, falling or flat? Summer ‘downtime’ is ideal for analyzing your results and brainstorming new approaches to put alumni fundraising on an upward trajectory. Based on the results, you can strengthen campaign messaging. For example, for metrics that have shown positive movement, look at the stories used in those appeals. It’s obvious that they resonated with your audience, so integrating more messaging along the same lines can be effective. If your metrics show a decline, on the other hand, it signals a need for new messages, channels or processes. Maybe you need to shift some direct mail to digital outreach. Perhaps you need to segment your list and create more targeted appeals. Which leads us to our next tip …
Optimize your donor database
Do your outreach efforts always hit their mark? Not just the basics—address, email, phone—although, accurate data is a critical. We’re referring to meaningful information about your donors that allows you to craft more targeted messages that truly inspire engagement. August is the perfect time to do some database housekeeping in preparation for the big 4th quarter giving season. Cleanse and append contact information to ensure your donor communications reach their intended targets. Survey your donors to understand individual contact preferences; some may prefer snail mail, while others prefer digital engagement. Your database should be more than an address book; turn it into the engine driving your success. And on that note …
Research your existing donors
Non-Profit Quarterly has noted, “Research estimates that it costs ten times more to acquire a new customer or donor than it does to keep a current one.” Why not focus on gaining insights into these valuable repeat donors, since prospects may be difficult to engage at this time of year. In addition to setting up Alerts to track alumni news mentions and career changes, use the summer down-time to conduct research that helps you develop a more complete donor profile—from adding more financial data based on SEC filings, bankruptcies and liens to identifying interests based on professional and sport licenses, charitable giving patterns, and political contributions. With
Get Creative with Donor Outreach
Travel schedules aside, summer can be a great time of year to connect with donors because they may not be as busy at the office either. You can acknowledge the vacation season with a series of “Wish you were here” messages that are fun reminders of how much you value your donors. Invite key donors to lunch now, while schedules are more flexible. Or simply host an event like a pop-up lemonade stand or a snow-cone social as a casual, fun way to connect with alumni and other donors. By engaging with donors consistently throughout the year, you will build stronger connections that help turn donors into partners invested in alumni fundraising.
Don’t sweat out the dog days of summer wondering where your donors are. If you take advantage of any of these tips, you can heat up alumni fundraising before the leaves change.
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