5 Summertime Tasks to Prepare for a Successful Fall Donation Drive

fall donation drive

With the new school year just around the corner, it’s important to begin preparing for your fall donation drive. But, you may be wondering where to start. Let’s explore where you can look for donors in your database and how you can use wealth screenings to find your next best prospect.

5 Tasks to Prepare for a Fall Donation Drive

1. Screen Your Giving Day Donors

As designated Giving Days have risen in popularity, many universities have been able to raise millions of dollars. They’ve also seen their number of donors double. Giving Days have other benefits- alumni and other members of your institution’s community are able to lend support from anywhere. Furthermore, they’re also given recognition among their community of gift givers.

So, to gear up for your fall donation drive, it’s important to screen your Giving Day donors. By conducting a wealth screening, you can see which donors have the greatest propensity and capacity to give. Donors who give during events like Giving Days may donate sporadically to your institution over time. But, they are still inclined to give. By reaching out early, and implementing effective engagement techniques, they’ll be more likely to donate during your fall donation drive. This is an even greater opportunity for your institution to cultivate donors who give again and again.

2. Screen Your Alumni

Alumni who had positive experiences at their alma mater are keen on giving back. They want to see incoming and returning students have an experience that was just as positive as theirs was.

So, when reaching out to alumni for your fall donation drive, it’s important to understand more about them. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with their interests and giving history, you can engage them in relevant ways. It’s important to ask yourself: who’s an active member of our institution’s alumni association/ Which alumni have given in the past? What do they do now? And do they have the propensity and capacity to give more? By conducting a wealth screening, you can get those answers and more. You can learn more about the wealth, lifestyle, affinities, and interests of alumni and uncover donors, hidden in your database. This can also help you personalize your outreach, and communicate with alumni about fundraisers that they’ll feel individually connected to.

For example, in 2014, the University of Maryland received a historic gift of $31M from former Computer Science Major and Oculus CEO, Brendan Iribe. Brendan attributed his love of virtual reality to the University of Maryland’s computer science department, which is what inspired him to give back.

3. Screen the Parents of Your Incoming Students

With incoming students arriving in just a few months, it’s important to screen your new students’ parents. Which families, of your incoming class, may have the greatest ability and willingness to give during your fall donation drive?

For most parents, if they have the ability to give, they’ll contribute as much as they can. They want to ensure that their son or daughter has all the resources necessary to be successful. Especially if members of your university’s incoming class are legacy students, their parents may be even more keen to give. They’ll want their child to have the best experience at an institution they feel personally connected to and invested in.

By the time your fall donation drive comes around, you can hold an event for parents. This is an opportunity to walk them through the campaigns you have in progress, and how these will transform their child’s college experience.

4. Screen Your Gala Attendees

During galas for your institution, attendees are keen on seeing what their gifts are being put towards. They want to know how their commitment to your campaign(s) is being transformed into tangible accomplishments. It is important to know which gala attendees have contributed substantially in the past. However, it’s even more important to find former attendees who have the ability to give more.

So, it’s important to understand (through screenings) where their values lie, and which projects they’re likely to invest in further. Then, during your fall donation drive, you can tailor your outreach in ways that keep your attendees motivated to keep giving.

5. Model Your Screening Files to Find More Potential Donors

You’ve screened all the donors hidden in your database who have the greatest propensity and capacity to give. Now what? How do you find new donors to give during your fall donation drive?

Using WealthEngine’s modeling solution, you can create a core donor persona. From there, you can find overlaps in demographic data, preferences, and giving history among your existing donors. This will help you understand potential donors you should be reaching out to. Essentially, you’re creating an impression of your ideal donor and then using those traits to find more people like them.

For example, one of WealthEngine’s clients, a large, private, research university in the midwest had a plan in place for fundraising at all levels. However, their biggest challenge was securing Major Gifts. By using WealthEngine’s modeling solution,  the team generated a model that automatically identified the top 10% of their donors. The gift capacities of these donors were in the $100,000 range, and over 200 members were identified as top prospects. This reduced their major gift donor lead time by 88%.

Learn How to Model and Screen Your Data to Secure Donations

Learn more about how modeling and screening could help you increase conversions.

See how to model your data →

See how to screen your data →

Engaging Alumni: 7 Steps to Convert New Graduates into Future Donors

engaging alumni

Your students just graduated. What can you do to ensure long-term engagement among this group of graduates? If an alumnus doesn’t donate within 10 years of graduating, there’s a good chance you’ve lost them forever. Even though alumni fundraising is a long game, your advancement team should think about engaging alumni as soon as they graduate.

Follow these 7 steps to create a bond that results in a lifetime of giving.

Step 1: Don’t Lose Touch

When your current student body is graduating,  make sure that they stay in touch with your institution. Have them join your Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Prompt them to follow you on Instagram or Snapchat. You may have an overall account for your institution and others for different departments. Encourage them to join both.

It is not enough for these alumni to simply follow you on social networks. You will also need to keep them engaged on these channels. This means you will also need to create engaging content on these channels constantly. Moreover, you will need to stay active on all platforms. For instance, you can post news about the achievements of other alumni and ask them to share what’s going on in their lives.

Similarly, sending an engaging alumni newsletter should be part of your strategy. Your newsletter is another good way to remain in touch. You can use it to highlight institutional achievements, news about your institution, and career opportunities within the network.

Step 2: Connect Alumni to The Next Batch of Students

When it comes to engaging alumni, it’s important to make them feel like they are still part of the community. Most higher education institutions hesitate to connect current students to alumni. This stems from a fear of tapping the alumni network out.

Your alumni engagement strategy should give your alumni control over communication between themselves and current students. Invite them to become mentors. This gives them the power to say yes or no. Further, it allows them to feel connected to your university and feel like they are giving back.

In fact, your current students will have a lot to gain from connecting with relevant alumni. By doing this, you are already grooming current students for long-term engagement with your institution.

Step 3: Connect Alumni to Each Other

You’ve found ways to keep in touch with your alumni base. Now it’s time to create connections among them. For example, you can encourage former students to join alumni network chapters in their cities.

So, how will these steps lead to enhanced fundraising?

The fact is that you have to establish a strong connection with recent graduates. Engaging alumni is the foundation of fundraising. They have to feel a sense of community within your institution. When recent graduates are dealing with student loans and the beginnings of their careers, it can be the wrong time to ask for gifts. At this stage, it’s important to establish a connection more than anything else.

By doing this, you are setting the stage for your long-term alumni engagement strategy.

Step 4: Engage Alumni by Appealing to their Interests

Your alumni engagement strategy has to have a long-term view. The next step is to understand alumni interests. Doing this provides you two benefits:

First, it tells you more about your alumni body in general. Second, it makes alumni engagement more effective. For instance, when you know that a subgroup of alumni is interested in the arts, you can create events that appeal to their interests. When events are catered to alumni interests, they are more likely to attend them and thereby stay connected to your institution.

Moreover, you can strengthen alumni-student relationships by connecting the right people with each other. When these relationships prove effective, it increases your credibility in the long-term.

Step 5: Screen Your Network Regularly

You may already have an understanding of an alumnus’ background and interests from the time of admission to graduation. Wealth screening can enhance your view of them. Screening can help you understand how they live, give, and save.

Alumni status and life stages are constantly changing. As a matter of fact, recent graduates tend to move often until they establish themselves. This move may be geographical or professional.

Northwestern University is a prime example. Their Development Research and Prospect Management team found it challenging to match addresses in their alumni base. Using WE Screen allowed them to match 31,000 alumni with new addresses.

Regular screenings help you ensure that you are always working with updated information. Additionally, screening can add valuable information on alumni wealth, lifestyle, interests, and affinities. Engaging alumni becomes easier when you are working with a fuller picture.

Moreover, if you have API integration enabled, you can automatically receive updated data in your DMS.

Step 6: Personalize your ask

Understanding prospects beyond their wealth is the first step towards personalized alumni engagement. When you understand what makes an alumnus tick, you can speak their language.

You should personalize not only your message but also the medium of communication. For instance, some alumni may be interested in attending a wine-tasting event in their city. Similarly, some may be more likely to respond to an invite sent via direct mail. Others may be more responsive to a phone call. Personalization boosts your alumni engagement strategy by making your message resonate.

When it comes to asking for a donation, personalization plays a major role. Using screening data and insights gives you an idea of a person’s gift capacity, propensity, and intent. You can rank prospects based on propensity and intent. This way you’re only appealing to those alumni who are most likely to donate. Your ask can also be customized to each donor based on their capacity.

Step 7: Show the impact of their donations

Once you have converted prospects into donors, it’s important to keep them engaged. Engaging alumni in the long-term results in recurring donations, a path to major gifts or even planned giving.

The most effective way to keep them engaged is to show them what their dollars have helped you achieve. For instance, you can show a microbiology alumnus that their donation helped you restore a lab. This helps them understand the direct impact of their gift. Further, it resonates with their interest in the subject. They have helped you provide top-notch facilities for future students of microbiology. When they understand how they are helping uplift future contributors to their field, it makes them more interested in giving again.

Transform Alumni Engagement Strategy with WealthEngine 9

These steps should help you have a long-term view on engaging alumni. Learn more about how WealthEngine9 (WE9)  is changing the fundraising landscape.

Explore WE9 Now →

Related Reading

How to Spot Major Gift Opportunities In Your Day of Giving Donor List

University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects

 

 

 

How to Spot Major Gift Opportunities In Your Day of Giving Donor List

Day of Giving

Giving Day or Day of Giving is being adopted by more universities across the US every year. Day of Giving collections are also increasing. Cornell, for example, saw double the number of donors in one year. They’ve also raised over $7M in a single year, surpassing all their previous Giving Day records.

With each university starting their own version of this day, the importance of this day cannot be ignored. Let’s start with the basics and finish by analyzing how you can find Major Gift opportunities in your Day of Giving donor list.

What is Day of Giving?

Day of Giving is a specific 24-hour window in which a university accepts gifts from anyone, anywhere in the world. Gifts are given online, which means that alumni and other members of the institution’s community can lend support from anywhere.

Giving Days are becoming increasingly popular due to their viral and convenient nature.  Some universities leverage #GivingTuesday to run their Day of Giving campaigns. Yet, others have their own designated Giving Days.

These events also have an element of gamification. Each higher education institution sets up several giving challenges or goals that donors can reach. Accomplishing these goals gains them acknowledgment and recognition among the community.

For instance, the University of Chicago has various viral opportunities. They recognize their first donor, their first international donor, etc. They even have a Nobel Prize Challenge—asking donors to donate $91 to represent the number of Nobel Laureates who are part of their alumni diaspora.

Giving Day Success

Many WealthEngine clients have seen incredible success during their respective events. For instance, Boston University raised  $3.5M from 11,800 donors. Donors included alumni and other members of the BU community who donated from 50 different countries.

The time-sensitivity of these events creates a sense of urgency among donors. The viral/social conversations around them build a sense of community. Moreover, the ability to make donations online, especially to specific causes, makes it more convenient to donate.

Vanderbilt University recently raised $9.4M from less than 8500 donors. This shows that Day of Giving events are gaining traction and giving amounts are also increasing each year.

Lifetime Value of Giving Day Donors

Donor Lifetime Value is an estimate of how much you can expect a particular donor to contribute to your organization over their lifetime.

There are many factors that go into calculating what this number should be. Not only should you take into account a donor’s wealth indicators but you should also look at their propensity to give to your cause.

Giving Day donors are a unique set. They may differ from your other donors by being more spontaneous with their gifts. They may also donate sporadically over time. Furthermore, these events attract donors who may not come in through the typical fundraising pipeline.

The inconsistency or diversity of donors should not stop you from assessing their lifetime value. With the right engagement techniques, Giving Day donors can be put on the path to long-term membership. Click to learn more about calculating Donor Lifetime Value.

Hidden Major Gift Opportunity

When new donors come in through your Giving Day channel, use the opportunity to learn more about them. Wealth Screening can help you learn more about their wealth, lifestyle, interests, and affinities. Thus, screening can provide a 360-degree view of your Day of Giving donor list.

More importantly, screening your list can uncover gems you didn’t know you had. For instance, a major university that is a WealthEngine client found out that one of their low-level donors was capable of giving a Major Gift. Through screening, the university was able to determine the right ask. As a result, they have now received $5M from this donor.

In fact, Washinton & Lee University’s advancement team has said, “Our first six months of peer screening resulted in the identification of 284 completely new prospects with validated gift capacity ratings of over 100,000. We were also able to confirm and/or upgrade known prospects at equally high levels.”

Further, WealthEngine clients receive WE Insights, a free service that showcases what makes their donors unique.

average donor profile

 

Take Screening Data to the Next Level Through Modeling

Screening Data and WE Insights give you a more holistic picture of your Giving Day donors. However, you could take these insights to the next level through modeling.

A model is a specific formula created for your institution. This formula helps answer a particular question. Click to learn more about creating a model.

Modeling can identify Major Gift opportunities in your Giving Day list in three simple steps:

Step 1: Model your Past Major Gift Donors

Create a model to understand your existing Major Gift donors. The model will scan your database and divide it into 10 equal segments ranked by likelihood of Major Gift giving. You can use the top 10% or 20% of your donor base as the ideal sample.

This ideal group will have a set of common traits among them.

Step 2: Run Your Giving Day Donor List against the Major Gift model

Doing this will score each Day of Giving donor against your Major Gift formula. This will help you identify donors who resemble your Major Gift donors. Similar traits are a predictor of similar behavior.

Step 3: Prioritize Major Gift Donors from your Giving Day List

Those Giving Day donors with high match scores to your existing major gift donors should become a top priority. This means that these Giving Day donors have both the capacity and the propensity to give Major Gifts. You can then rank them based on their score and hand them off to your Major Gifts Officers for cultivation.

Get a Free “Test File” analysis of a segment of your Giving Day donors

Interested in learning more about the Major Gift potential in your Giving Day donor list? WealthEngine can provide a free test file analysis to show you what your results could look like.

WE Screen can add 50+ data points to your sample list of donors so you can understand their gift capacity range and propensity to give. Furthermore, WE Screen can add actionable information on lifestyle, demographics, interests, and affinities.  Screening data will be accompanied by a sample WE Insights report that will show you what makes your Giving Day donors respond to asks.

Simply fill out the form on the right and a WealthEngine rep will contact you about your free test file and WE Insights report.

Related Articles

University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects

University sees 88% Reduction in Major Gift Donor Lead Time Through Data Modeling

University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects

university fundraising

Did you know that your screening data can help you find overlooked donors? Wealth Screening is not a new concept in university fundraising. WealthEngine’s solution WE Screen has helped several higher education institutions understand their alumni base by appending a breadth of data. For instance, Northwestern University used WE Screen to enhance their development efforts.

Prior to the first parent screening, their Parents’ Fund raised approximately $500,000 annually. Within the first year of screening, they found that the Fund had doubled. Within four years, the Fund had almost quadrupled to $1.75M.

Screening is a great start. However, higher education fundraising has a little known secret that few educational institutions use. The secret is modeling. When you create a model of your past donors, you learn unique insights about your contacts. Continue reading “University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects”

University sees 88% Reduction in Major Gift Donor Lead Time Through Data Modeling

One of WealthEngine’s clients is a large, private, research university in the midwest with an international student body of about 12,000 students.

The university’s fundraising team had a plan in place for fundraising at all levels. However, Major Gifts were a challenge. WealthEngine’s Client Engagement Manager (CEM) suggested that they use wealth modeling as a solution.

The development team was skeptical at first. By explaining that WealthEngine could build a custom model for the university, the CEM was able to convince the Major Gift Officers to try it as a pilot program.

The custom model included categorical and numerical data chosen by the university with guidance from the CEM. Custom data from the university was able to generate a model that automatically identified the top 10% of their donors.

These were donors with gift capacities in the $100,000 range. Over 200 members were identified as top prospects for the university’s major gifts program.

The model instilled confidence in the development team. As the next step of pilot testing, their Major Gifts Officers called a random sample of 10 members from their list. To their surprise, all 10 members answered their call and had a conversation with them. Thus, their effort resulted in a staggering response rate during the pilot stage.

From the 10 phone calls, the university was able to have in-person meetings with 3 major gift prospects. Therefore, the pilot saw a 30% engagement rate. Major Gift Officers are now in serious talks with 2 of the 3 members for gifts at the $100,000 level, resulting in a 20% overall lead conversion rate.

The exercise has made the university realize that only the top 10% of their database has a gift capacity of $20 million. Their major gifts program, therefore, received a significant boost from the custom model developed by WealthEngine. What’s more? Their Major Gifts Officers were able to go from initial phone call to a conversation about actual gift amounts within 2 months. The model was able to cut down the lead time by about 88% compared to the industry average.

 

WealthEngine Customers: Get a Free Modeling Sample of Your Data.

Secrets of High Performing Organizations

blog-hpo-secrets.png

In the education sector, a high performing organization is one that, on average, raises substantially more money per full-time student than its peers.  So, what is it about these high performing organizations that enables them to have such effective fundraising programs? It all starts with their investment in data, analytics and research.  High performing organizations (HPOs) tend have a higher number of prospect research staff (roughly twice as many) and spend more on data and analytics tools and services than do their peers (roughly twice as much).  In particular, high performing organizations use predictive modeling much more often than do their peers.

Continue reading “Secrets of High Performing Organizations”