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How to motivate young people to give? Is it a generational problem, or are we just not getting their attention the right way -- or both? This month, a selection of news items particularly related to student giving and young alumni giving.
Robert Burdenski Annual Giving is pleased to welcome several new or renewed clients, including Northeastern Illinois University, Wheaton College, Seton Hall University, and the Center For Creative Leadership.
See you online and on the road. Happy Halloween!
Video appeals, email solicitations, online lists of donors, and annual giving Web pages. They're all here, and you'd better be aware of what they are and how they're revolutionizing annual giving programs. Building a Web site and being online doesn't necessarily persuade alumni to give.You need a thoughtful marketing plan that uses a variety of techniques, both online and off.
Joining Bob Burdenski will be a trophy, tech- savvy panel that will review the best and the brightest online ideas for annual giving and talk about the supporting structures necessary to online annual fund success: Shawn Dailey, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs, Kenyon College; Barbara Daines, Associate Director of Alumni Online Services, Stanford Business School Alumni Association; and Lorna Lodholz, Director, The North Carolina State University Annual Fund.
The online conference will happen on Thursday, November 18th from 2-3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Make plans now to join us!
Big-time college athletic departments who assert that their teams' success leads to increased alumni donations and a better applicant pool have created an "arms race" for athletic supremacy when funds could be better spent elsewhere on campus, according to a study by the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
Robert H. Frank, H.J. Louis Professor of Management and Economics at Cornell, who authored the study, concluded that success in sports has little effect on alumni donations or the quality of applicants.
"Individual institutions that decide to invest more money in their sports programs in the hope of raising more funds or improving their applicant pools may be throwing good money after bad," said Frank. "Groups of institutions that compete against each other in sports could jointly agree to cut back on sports spending -- abandon the `arms race' in which they are now engaged -- without reducing either donations by alumni or applications by prospective students."
Frank examined the common assumption that bigger athletic programs attract more students because of the universal appeal of sports and the promotional advertising that successful sports programs receive. "Certainly," he said in the report, "there are instances in which the presence of a specific causal link appears compelling, as when Boston College experienced a 30 percent increase in applications during the two years following its football team's dramatic come-from-behind 47-45 victory [over Miami] in 1984.
I get asked this question often. Schools in the U.S. tend to forget that an annual report is as much a marketing document as an accounting document. Show your prospects how they're supposed to behave!
Schools in the U.K. are working hard to establish a philanthropic culture, and their donor annual reports reflect it - with very deliberate message points, testimonials, and (of course) lists of donors. The University of Warwick is one good example - their student callers are treated like celebrities. The Benefactors report features testimonials of why the students love to call, and why the donors love to give.
I like to use the analogy that teaching prospects to be donors is like teaching fans in a stadium to do "the wave" -- they won't understand what they're supposed to do until you show them.
If your annual report of donors is 95% about proofreading and 5% about the content, think about how to better use it to teach your prospects "the wave."
The newest ACC competition, won't be on the field, but in the bank. Schools of the confrence are battling to see who can get young alumni to make the most financial contributions.
The roar of the crowd at a football game or the hundreds of orange Virginia Tech T-shirts worn around campus every day are two ways Hokie pride stands out in Blacksburg, but there is a new way for recent Tech grads to show support for their alma mater.
The ACC-challenge, a contest open to the past 10 years' graduates, is asking alumni from ACC schools to voice their pride. The challenge was developed to increase the giving from young alumni as well as show the sportsmanship at each school, said university spokesman Mark Owczarski. "When you look at fundraising traditionally, at all colleges, it's tough for young alumni to give contributions," he said.
Because young alumni so recently graduated college, Owczarski said there is an understanding that they have less to donate than the older alumni, but he felt it was important for them to show their lasting involvement in the university. The challenge will make it easier for the recent grads to show their pride because the measurement tool is not the amount of money, but instead, the amount of donors.
Bruce Hunter hates college rankings. Every fall, the chief college counselor at Rowland Hall-St. Mark's - a private high school in Salt Lake City - stands before his students and tears the ranking pages from his college handbooks.
"Pretentious, money-grabbing nonsense," he says of these publications. "These things do much harm because they don't know the colleges, and their ratings are meaningless. "
Thousands of miles away in Edinburgh, Scotland, Robin McAlpine, a senior official for Universities Scotland - an association of Scottish universities - expresses a similar sentiment.
"League tables [a term borrowed from British sports referring to soccer standings] are not about giving information to parents and students, they are about selling newspapers," he fumes. "Loads of people rush out to buy them when they come out, especially middle-class students. But they are [a] gimmick."
Princeton may be their classic rival, but for Penn seniors, Yale is the school to beat. Yale University had over 80 percent of its 2004 graduating class give money to the senior gift drive, above and beyond the rates at Penn, Harvard University and Princeton University.
Only 55 percent of the University's graduating class contributed to the senior drive last year, and that was a record high for Penn. Yale has "a very strong volunteer structure," said Martha Gates, a Yale college development officer. "Each senior is actually approached and talked to about giving, and I think that makes the difference."
Yale's percentage of participation may be higher, but individual members of the class do not give as much. Yale's class last year gave $24,000, while Penn's class gave nearly $50,000. Yale has approximately 5,000 undergraduates, Harvard has about 6,500, Princeton has about 5,000 and Penn has about 10,000 students.
This time last year, 34 percent of the 2003 graduates of Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business had made pledges to contribute to their alma mater, a weak showing even among notoriously stingy alumni in their 20s and early 30s.
Enter David A. Tepper, the 46-year-old millionaire investor and CMU graduate, who gave the school $55 million and urged students at the school - renamed the David A. Tepper School of Business - to follow his lead of "earning, learning, and returning."
This year's class gift participation: 93 percent, a threefold increase. "It's astronomical," said Ron Schiller, director of university development and associate vice president of advancement at Carnegie Mellon. "It's witness to the power of understanding the difference that philanthropy makes."
But it is a lesson that most Generation Xers ---- people born roughly during the years 1965 to 1981 --- - are ignoring across the country. Forget the image of cantankerous misers who refuse to part with their hard-earned dollars. Today's 20- and 30-somethings are less likely to support charities than their parents' and grandparents' generations, forcing organizations around the country to look at nontraditional ways to involve young Americans in philanthropy.
Bob will be the featured presenter at a special CASE Europe day-long seminar - the CASE Europe Masterclass on Annual Giving, to be held in London, England on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005. The program will be a follow-up to Bob's standing-room- only appearance at the CASE Europe conference this past September.
The program will feature selected European schools and annual giving programs from Bob's upcoming second CASE book: More Innovations in Annual Giving, and a few U.S. examples and participants from his first book as well. Check the CASE Europe Web site for more information about this upcoming event and registration information.
Elections, debates, the Super Bowl, the big school football game -- what's the rule about calling or not calling for the phonathon? Here's a sampling of FundList opinions about election night calling:
We will not be calling on Election Day-- it shows your alumni that you are aware of the importance of the elections. Conversely, if you call, you may upset donors-- something that is never good. -- David J. Smith, BYU Telefund
We are using that night to do a refresher training and are not calling any of our alumnae. -- Jane Mitchell, Meredith College
No stoppage for Penn State. Great rapport topic and bonus theme! -- Mike Cipriani, Penn State Lion Line
We're running that night. I'm bringing a TV into the phonathon room so none of us miss the returns! -- Sheila M. Reakes, S. C. Johnson School of Management, Cornell University
Experience has taught us that many of our alumni get rather ticked if we call during moments of national importance. Accordingly, we make it a policy not to call when the president is making a national address, during the presidential debates, and on election night. -- Jenna Stone, Lawrence University
Your school's location may be a factor. Here in New York, polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm EST, and election coverage doesn't begin until 9:00pm EST. Our staff and students have plenty of time to vote before they have to be here. -- Tammy S. Schlafer, Syracuse University
We won't be calling that night. We want to have the alum's attention when we call - the election will be a distraction. --Meg Kula, Hood College
Robert Burdenski Annual Giving has partnered with RuffaloCODY to add annual giving consulting to RuffaloCODY's existing state-of-the-art products and services. "Bob brings over 17 years of annual giving fundraising knowledge and expertise to the RuffaloCODY team. His work with nonprofit organizations to improve their annual giving performance fits with our overall company goals and initiatives," says Duane Jasper, President of RuffaloCODY. "Our state-of-the-art phonathon training services and consulting services, along with Bob's coaching and analysis background, provide advanced opportunities for our clients. We are excited and eager to begin a partnership that will encourage growth and development," Jasper said.