|Bob's Latest Annual Giving Departures|
As I finish this newsletter the front door is open, the trees are in bloom, and the Chicago Cubs have yet to be eliminated from the baseball playoffs. It doesn't get any better in the Windy City.
We'll be out and about all summer, with conferences in the West (APRA in San Diego), the Midwest (Burdenski & Taylor's Advancement Academy in Iowa), the East (Blackbaud's User Group in Charleston) and across the pond (CASE Europe Annual Conference in Edinburgh). Come on out and say hello.
We're pleased to welcome several new clients, including Tulane University, SUNY Cortland, and Cornell College.
Included this month is a mix of new media and old, some wisdom from FundList, and a question about the continuing value of "annual giving" as a phrase itself.
Hope you find some time to recharge your batteries around the fiscal year end.
The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has released a number of interesting athletics-related reports over the past several years. For the annual giving minded, none are more interesting than "Challenging the Myth: A Review of the Links Among College Athletic Success, Student Quality, and Donations" by Robert Frank.
The report provides, among other things, a concise summary of previous studies that have examined the relationship between athletics and giving. The findings over the years have been varied, and often contradictory. Here are some of them (year of the study in parentheses)...
- Donations are essentially independent of football success (1979);
- Being placed on NCAA probation for a basketball violation reduces total giving by $1.6 million (in 1987 dollars);
- Winning percentage in football is negatively associated with alumni giving (1994);
- Bowl game appearances do result in significantly higher gifts (an estimated average gift increment of $40 per year per alumnus at private universities, $6.50 per year per alumnus at public universities) (1996);
- Neither a winning nor losing record correllates with alumni giving (2003 NCAA study)
Confused? Read the study for yourself and draw your own conclusions. And may the best team win.
Institutions are still learning how to incorporate flash technology into their advancement programs, and they're trying to learn how to evaluate it at the same time. Here's one interesting example from the Berklee College of Music that combines alumni relations, annual giving, email, the Internet, and the holidays all into one delightful flash email announcement.
Whoever knew that talking reindeer, radio control evergreen trees, and disco-playing elves would make for a good year-end message to alumni? (Berklee College, that's who.) In the midst of a funny video and a great creative use of technology, is a good example of friend-raiser and fund-raiser goal integration.
What's more, there are many institutions that are putting good content on their Web pages, but fail to actively educate their audiences that the new content is there. Give Berklee lots of credit for appreciating that the job doesn't end with a new Web page.
This sample requires that your computer be able to play Flash video.
By and large, U.S. institutions have succeeded in teaching the concept of annual giving to their constituent audiences. (They may not choose to give, but they know what those calls and letters are all about.) So, are we now victims of our success, with prospects who would be willing (even happy) to contribute more often?
Canadian colleges and universities have been among the leaders in encouraging monthly (or quarterly) recurring giving. While such gifts often used to require a voided check from the donor and were less than user friendly to set up, they've become a one-click wonder on many schools' Web giving pages.
Trinity Western University is one Canadian school that has simply and concisely added a monthly giving credit card option to its online giving page. Now that we're seeing more donors give on-line, can we inspire them to give a little more often?
It's a fact. College lightens wallets - at Georgetown to the tune of more than $40,000 per year. But according to university administrators, there's help on the way for Georgetown's neediest students.
In an attempt to alleviate budget constraints that have left Georgetown unable to compete with other prominent universities' student financial aid packages, administrators have launched a program allowing wealthy alumni to "sponsor" individual students with contributions of $15,000 a year.
Charles Deacon, the dean of undergraduate admissions, has led the effort to develop the program, the first of its kind, which some say could change the way universities fundraise.
Last summer Deacon launched the trial run of the Georgetown Scholarship Program. After one year, $750,000 has been raised and 50 students will be receiving scholarships in the fall of 2005.
With the Georgetown Scholarship Program alumni can sponsor a student with an annual commitment of $15,000. Organizers are seeking alumni willing to commit to the program for five years. Since $15,000 annually is a large sum of money, groups of three and five alumni can sponsor a student together.
According to Deacon, no other school has attempted an annual-giving approach to financial aid. If the program is successful at Georgetown, he expects other schools will copy the system.
A hot topic on FundList recently was the use of student callers sending next-day postcards to those who give. Here are some ideas contributed by FundList readers...
Our callers send a TY postcard to all donors, all alumni who are a "maybe", and all alumni whom a student had a meaningful call with, whether a gift is made or not. Additionally, cards are sent to those alumni who mention a death in the family, new baby, military service, and other extreme conditions. We have found that this small gesture is a great way for students to say thanks for speaking with me. Our prospects really seem to like it, and that shows by gift upgrades, "maybe" becoming "yes", and alumni who said no during the call sending in a gift because of the student personally thanking them for the nice conversation. -- Megan Mueller, St. Ambrose University
The caller puts stamp the postcard and it goes out the next morning. A pledge confirmation along with a thank you letter goes out the next day. They make no mention of the amount of the pledge, only thank the donor for the pledge. Is it worth the cost? I believe it is. Our alumni have written back to the students thanking them for the note and to wish them the best in their academic endeavors. -- Kerry Willman, University of Tulsa
Our callers send out postcards as a combination thank you and reminder. Each caller keeps a stack of postcards at their station, and for every pledge a caller gets he or she signs a postcard, addresses it and perhaps writes a friendly note. The postcards have a picture of our calling staff on the front (sometimes the caller will circle their picture to let the donor know what they look like) and a pre-printed thank you phrase on the back. We mail the postcards on the due date of the prospect's pledge (30 days from the date of call). Many alumni love these things. We always get several alumni who tell our students that they still have the previous year's postcard stuck on their refrigerator. --Adrian Matthys, Stephen F. Austin State University
When it comes to alumni relations, if you want to keep them devoted, you have to get them when they're young. At least this is the attitude of Richard Witten, CC '75, a Columbia University trustee and chairman of the Columbia College Board of Visitors. In an effort to convince young alumni to donate to the University, Witten announced this month that the Board of Visitors will match every donation made by students from the classes of 1995 through 2004 to the Young Alumni Fund made before June 30 two to one, up to a total of $100,000.
"What the challenge does is show that the Board of Visitors wants to see young alumni engaged and involved," said Jay Wright, director of the Young Alumni Fund. "They have made young alumni a priority by doing this," he added.
The Senior Fund received a similar challenge from the Board, which will donate $25,000 if 75 percent of seniors participate and an additional $25,000 if that number reaches 76 percent. The goal is to change what has historically been "a culture of entitlement instead of a culture of appreciation," said Stephanie Katsigiannis, CC '05 and chair of this year's Senior Fund.
The fund is the latest in a series of efforts this year to keep young alumni connected to the College-financially and otherwise. Last year, 14 percent of young alumni donated to the College. This lags behind the participation rate at Barnard, for instance, where 24 percent gave last year. But those working in the alumni office say participation numbers are on the rise. "We're getting a lot of momentum," said Emily Morris, CC '02 and assistant director of alumni affairs for young alumni.
From Brookdale Community College (BCC) to NBC, Anchorman Brian Williams is back in town to help raise funds for his alma mater. Williams, who recently took over for Tom Brokaw as the "NBC Nightly News" anchor, is an alumnus of Brookdale (NJ) Community College and chairman of this year's fund-raising campaign. The theme, "I Came With a Dream and Left With a Plan," is a direct reflection of Williams' own career journey, from humble journalism student to major network news anchor.
"I didn't have great skills and a résumé when I started, but I knew I had to grab all I could in the time I was at Brookdale," Williams said in a press release. "I can safely say I did." With "a lofty, far-off dream of going into television," Williams studied English and journalism at BCC in the 1970s. The future anchor also wrote for the student newspaper, The Stall, and a BCC employee newsletter called The Communicator.
"You will get as good as you are willing to give," said Williams of his time at the two-year college. "I was an active and involved student... Today, I take the lessons I learned at Brookdale and, through television, I have a chance to teach history as it is happening."
Hoping to raise $350,000 by the end of the year, the college has already collected $130,000 through appeal efforts.
An annual giving advertisement in the alumni magazine isn't a substitute for asking for a gift, but it can help reinforce a giving culture and your case for support. I always enjoy creative ideas for making the case for unrestricted gift support, and Oberlin College has a nifty ad for the Oberlin Fund that points out how support of the Oberlin Fund helps ensure quality in all corners of the college.
From a laptop, to a medical journal subscription, to a student's scholarship to... a lightbulb, the Oberlin Fund ad talks about the value of every gift, and the wide benefits that Oberlin Fund gifts provide across the campus.
"What does it cost to plant the seed of scientific discovery? We can't know how far a student's interest will take them, so Oberlin provides a rigorous academic foundation to support even the most unexpected inquiry. Annual gifts provide computers, journal subscriptions and salaries and support for top-notch faculty and staff. Thanks to gifts like yours, Oberlin remains a laboratory for extraordinary discovery."
Celebrate the eloquence of the Oberlin Fund.
John Taylor and Bob Burdenski each have their own best-selling CASE books, have their own popular listservs, have "stellar" speaker ratings and have served clients from coast-to-coast.
And now, they have each other.
Burdenski and Taylor have launched a consulting group built on the strength of their combined 40 years of thought leadership in advancement. One of their first collaborations will be a summer advancement academy, to be held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on July 19, 20 and 21st.
Annual giving session highlights will include More Innovations in Annual Giving - ten new case histories from Bob's new CASE book, and Bob's 25 favorite shared samples from the past year on FundList. Their web site contains info about the academy program - which will include a visit to the real Field of Dreams - at www.burdenskitaylor.com. Bring your mitt!