Colleges work to build donor base among young alumni
- Northeastern University was criticized last month for a one-day fundraising campaign which promised a $1,000 payout towards student loans for randomly selected donors.
- The campaign highlights the difficulty of cultivating donors among recent graduates, and the work to reverse a downward trend in alumni giving which has dropped nationally by more than 3% in the last nine years.
- The biggest challenge in tracking recent graduates is to keep updated mailing information from graduates who are likely to move for careers or graduate school.
The best way to convert a student into an alumni donor is to start during freshman orientation, when administration should make the first and most personal appeal to students to consider investing in the experiences they are about to receive over the next four years. Then comes the hard work of making those experiences rewarding enough that they can visualize easily and early why philanthropy is important.
Incorporating new and innovative ways to communicate with graduates will also be key. While traditional mailing may work for Baby Boomer-graduates, development divisions will need to quickly enhance social media strategies to target and find graduates who otherwise would not think of updating information on addresses and career updates. Corporations will take notice of schools that use innovative approaches to philanthropy and invest in those schools which showcase engaging strategies to build capacity.
- Inside Higher Ed The elusive young donor