I have great news for higher education development professionals – alumni participation will be affecting the US News & World Report rankings for quite some time! So stop what you’re doing and start celebrating!!
Why, might you ask, is this such a great thing? Because thanks to online and social media, you now have direct control over boosting your alumni participation. With a smart, ambassador-led or crowdfunding-focused strategy, you can drive a significant uptick (1 percent or more) to your institution’s overall alumni giving participation.
Really. Our clients do it all the time. Here’s how:
Build a Robust Online Ambassador Program:
An strong online ambassador program is the single best thing you can do when it comes to increasing new donor participation. During online ambassador fundraising campaigns BWF has either helped produce or has learned about, on average 40 percent of donors who participate in online campaigns are new donors. And we’re not talking about 40 percent of a few dozen donors. We’re talking several hundred or several thousand new donors. Here’s a quick rundown of successful ambassador-led campaigns:
- UMass Amherst – UMassGives: 1,588 donors during 36-hour campaign (1,056 new, 626 were students)
- Florida State’s Great Give #1: 1,100+ donors during the 36-hour campaign (380 new)
- Columbia’s Giving Day #1: 4,940 donors during the 24-hour campaign (Approx. 2,000 new)
People learn of causes to support via social media:
Generally speaking this is true for all nonprofits, but it holds true in higher ed, too. A recent Georgetown University/Waggener Edstrom study found that social media is – by far – the number one way even marginally active online users learn of new causes to support.
So, knowing that statistic, it makes perfect sense that online ambassador programs are so crucial to acquiring new donors. Using a dedicated group of ambassadors to disperse your fundraising asks online spreads those asks out to new potential donors your school or organization had no way of contacting before the campaign. And because people trust a friend’s recommendation above all other forms of advertising, when those ambassadors ask their peers to give, they do.
Donors you acquire online are more likely to become major gift donors:
Consider this the double bonus of online-acquired donors – they have higher household incomes, give more over their lifetimes, and give larger gifts when compared to those who make their first gift via mail. So, not only will all those new donors boost your US News & World Report ranking, but they’ll also help you close the gap on your overall dollar goal for major campaigns and everything in between. Which, unlike the US News rankings, it TRULY something worth celebrating. 😉
Justin Ware is the author of this post and Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To learn more about the services Justin provides, click here.