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alumni fundraising guide

Alumni Fundraising: Complete Guide to Engaging Alumni

Alumni engagement plays a pivotal role in fostering a thriving community around educational institutions and organizations. It's not just about maintaining connections; it's about harnessing the collective power and resources of former students to benefit both the alumni network and the institution itself. 

A significant aspect of this engagement is alumni fundraising, which can have a profound impact on the resources and opportunities available to current and future students. These practical tips and strategies are designed to enhance alumni engagement, ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship that supports the institution's goals and enriches the alumni experience.

Importance of Alumni Fundraising and Engagement Strategies

Alumni fundraising and engagement strategies are vital for the success and sustainability of educational institutions. Nearly a quarter of all charitable donations to colleges and universities come from alumni, who not only contribute financially but also play a crucial role in fostering a sense of community and connection among alumni.

By staying connected with their alma mater through events, mentorship opportunities, or donations, alumni can continue to contribute to the growth and development of their former school. These strategies also serve as a platform for alumni to network with each other, creating potential career opportunities and strengthening professional relationships.

Ultimately, by implementing effective fundraising and engagement strategies, schools can not only secure financial support but also maintain strong connections with their alumni network for years to come.

6 Effective Alumni Fundraising Strategies 

These alumni fundraising strategies can help your higher education institution drive success and optimize engagement opportunities.

Do Some Prospect Research

Prospect research is a critical component of any successful alumni fundraising campaign. It involves identifying potential donors within the alumni community and researching their background, interests, and capacity to give. This allows fundraisers to tailor their approaches and appeals to each individual, increasing the chances of securing meaningful donations. 

Prospect research can also help identify key influencers within the alumni network who can make introductions and connections on behalf of the fundraising team. By investing time and resources into thorough prospect research, fundraisers can effectively engage with their alumni base and maximize their chances of achieving their fundraising goals.

DickersonBakker’s prospect research tool, Donor inSight, can help your institution find the right prospects to drive your fundraising efforts. 

Create a Targeted Campaign

Targeted campaigns are tailored specifically towards a certain audience and can increase the chances of success by personalizing the message. One strategy for creating a targeted campaign for alumni fundraising is to segment the audience based on factors such as graduation year, major, or involvement in specific clubs or organizations. 

Research shows that segmented emails increase open rates by 30%. Create an email list that allows you to regularly communicate with alumni and send them updates. This allows for a more personalized approach, as well as the opportunity to tap into shared experiences and connections among alumni. 

By understanding the unique interests and preferences of different alumni groups, targeted campaigns have the potential to resonate more deeply and drive greater engagement and support for fundraising efforts.

Build Meaningful Relationships

Building meaningful relationships is crucial for alumni fundraising. When a university or organization maintains strong connections with its alumni, it not only ensures the continued support of those individuals but also has the potential to expand its donor base. Alumni who feel connected and valued by their alma mater are more likely to give back and support its initiatives. Additionally, meaningful relationships can lead to increased engagement and involvement in events and activities, which can ultimately result in higher fundraising outcomes. 

These relationships also foster a sense of community and belonging, making alumni more likely to contribute to the growth and success of their alma mater. By investing in building meaningful relationships, universities and organizations can create a strong network of loyal supporters who will continue to contribute throughout their lifetime.

Research Matching Gifts

Matching gifts are donations made by a company or organization that matches the amount donated by an employee to a nonprofit organization. This means that if an alumnus chooses to donate to their alma mater and their employer offers a matching gift program, the donation can essentially be doubled. As a result, researching potential matching gift programs can greatly increase the impact of alumni fundraising efforts

By taking the time to research and promote these opportunities to alumni, organizations can not only increase their overall donations but also foster stronger relationships with both current and potential donors.

Establish Corporate Partnerships

Corporate partnerships not only provide financial support but also open doors to potential networking opportunities and strengthen the relationship between the university and its alumni. With the right corporate partner, universities can tap into their resources and expertise to create impactful fundraising campaigns that benefit both parties. By showcasing the benefits of partnering with the university, such as brand exposure and community involvement, corporations are more likely to contribute to alumni fundraising initiatives.

The University of South Carolina, for example, has built connections with the following companies:

  • Boeing
  • Samsung
  • IBM
  • Siemens
  • the South Carolina Research Authority

So, graduate students interested in tech already have a leg up. 

Develop a Recurring Giving Program

Developing a recurring giving program for alumni fundraising can greatly benefit universities and colleges. Not only does it provide a steady flow of donations, but it also fosters a strong relationship between the institution and its alumni. 

By setting up a recurring giving option, alumni are given the opportunity to make smaller, more manageable donations on a regular basis rather than larger one-time gifts. 

Regents College relies on a Monthly Giving program to build their community and raise donations. This allows for greater flexibility and convenience for donors, making them more likely to continue supporting their alma mater.

Alumni Engagement Strategies to Keep Prospects Interested

Half the battle of alumni fundraising is retaining them as a donor. The following strategies can help you build positive relationships and decrease one-time donors. 

Promote Their Work

Promoting the work of alumni not only showcases their achievements but also serves as a powerful tool for alumni engagement. When an institution shares the success stories and accomplishments of its former students, it not only highlights the impact of their education but also fosters a sense of pride and connection among current students and other alumni. This can lead to increased engagement and involvement in alumni events, mentoring programs, and even donations to support future generations. 

By promoting the work of alumni, such as through alumni magazines, publications, or speaking engagements, institutions are not only celebrating individual achievements but also strengthening the bond within their community. It serves as a reminder that the institution continues to play a crucial role in shaping successful individuals who contribute to society.

Reach Out Via Phone, Email, or Snail Mail

Reaching out to alumni through phone, email, or letters is a valuable way to foster engagement and maintain connections with former students. While social media and other digital platforms have become increasingly popular for connecting with others, there is something special about receiving a personal call, email, or letter from your alma mater. 

Not only does it show that the institution values its alumni, but it also provides a more personalized and intimate form of communication. It allows for a one-on-one conversation or correspondence that can lead to meaningful discussions about their experiences at the school, their current endeavors, and how they can potentially give back to their alma mater.

Alumni Associations

These organizations provide a platform for alumni to stay connected with each other, as well as the university or college they graduated from. By organizing events such as reunions, networking opportunities, and professional development workshops, alumni associations facilitate meaningful interactions between alumni. This not only helps in building a sense of community among former students but also allows them to stay updated on the latest happenings at their alma mater. 

Alumni associations also serve as a valuable resource for current students by providing mentorship opportunities and connecting them with potential job opportunities through their vast network of alumni. By actively engaging alumni through various initiatives, these associations contribute significantly to the overall growth and success of both the alumni and their alma mater.

Show How Their Donations Are Helping

Donating to a cause or organization is more than just a financial transaction. It is an act of generosity and kindness that can have a lasting impact on both the donor and the recipient. 

For alumni, seeing how their donations are directly helping and making a difference through channels like campus websites or email campaigns can strengthen their connection to their alma mater. By showcasing how donations are being used and highlighting the positive outcomes they are bringing, universities can engage with their alumni on a deeper level. 

This transparency and visibility into the impact of donations can foster a sense of pride and satisfaction among alumni, leading to increased engagement and support for their alma mater. Alumni want to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution, and by showing them tangible results, universities can cultivate a sense of community and gratitude within their alumni network.

Start Your Successful Journey to Alumni Fundraising

It's crucial for organizations to understand that investing in alumni fundraising is about more than just a quick financial boost. It's about building a strong foundation for the future by creating a network of supportive grads. Higher education institutions, especially, should really take this to heart and make alumni fundraising a key part of their growth strategies. By doing this, they're not just meeting their needs today but also setting themselves up for a brighter future.

DickersonBakker has the tools and resources to help you kickstart your alumni fundraising efforts. If you need help crafting a compelling message to alumni or developing a strategic fundraising plan, our team of experts is here to support you every step of the way.

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