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Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures )
May, 2008
The Latest Departures
  • Bob In USA Today Article: Smart-Thinking
    Senior Gift Programs Are Stopping All The "Stuff"
  • FundList Contributors Offer Tips For Faculty and Staff Appeals
  • 120 Institutions Are Participating in the 8th Annual FundList Direct Mail Exchange, and There's Room For You
  • Sun, Sand and SYBUNTS at the 4th-Annual Advancement Academy in San Diego
  • Australian Report on Higher Education Philanthropy Underscores Alumni Giving Potential, Recommends Matching Gifts
  • When Athletics May Influence Alumni Giving
  • The petunias are planted on my deck in Chicago, and the Chicago Cubs have yet to be eliminated from the summer baseball pennant race. (This year marks the 100th anniversary of the last time they won the world series, so a little pessimism is in order!) Hope you finish your fundraising year with more success than the Cubs are likely to show...

    I'll be going from summer to Southern Hemisphere winter to lead the annual giving track at the bi-annual conference of the Association of Alumni And Development Professionals in Education (ADAPE) in Brisbane, Australia. As you can read below, philanthropy for higher education in Australia is taking off fast, mate.

    I'm just finishing up a report on annual giving staff salaries, the result of more than 700 survey respondents who are just as interested as I am in annual giving survey benchmarks. Watch for a summary of the report in my next Departures newsletter.

    Hope you'll join advancement services guru John Taylor and me for our 4th-annual Burdenski and Taylor Advancement Academy in San Diego in July. The agenda truly is the best-yet, and the sun, sand and Shamu will make it all even better.

    Included this month is a mix of new media and old, and a free direct mail sharing opportunity from FundList.

    Bob In USA Today Article: Smart-Thinking
    Senior Gift Programs Are Stopping All The "Stuff"

    A growing number of colleges are recasting the tradition of senior-class gifts by encouraging their graduating classes to focus more on giving - preferably money the college can spend as it sees fit.

    Though many colleges boast a long history of receiving fountains, benches or other tangible items each spring from their graduating classes, "the smart thinking has been, 'Let's get away from stuff,' " says Bob Burdenski, a Chicago-based annual giving consultant who has worked with more than 100 colleges since 1994. He says more than 90% of his clients "have moved in that direction in the last five years."

    Some schools, including Stanford University and Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., have offered donation programs for more than a decade. They're becoming more common as higher education budgets tighten and competition for charitable giving intensifies, says Rae Goldsmith, spokeswoman for the non-profit Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, whose members include campus fundraisers.

    Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, asked seniors this year for the first time to give to its Bates Fund, which goes toward immediate needs ranging from library books and light bulbs to faculty salaries. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville plans to roll out a program for its graduates next spring. Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y., started one in 2006, and the University of Pennsylvania began one in 2005.

    Tangible items "are wonderful in their own way, (but) unrestricted gifts are perhaps more valuable to an institution," says Rob Schur, an assistant director in the development office at Amherst College in Massachusetts, which formalized such a plan in 2003.

    School administrators and philanthropists say the goal is less about dollar amounts and more about cultivating a new generation of alumni givers.

    FundList Contributors Offer Tips For Faculty and Staff Appeals

    Each year there are more discussed faculty and staff appeals than there are actual faculty and staff appeals. At many institutions, approaching employees for a gift can seem like a daunting task. Yet, many programs report stellar success. What's the secret? Some FundList contributors recently chimed in:

    "We dedicate our staff/faculty campaign to student scholarships. We hold our campaign during the month of May. We call it the All-Stars Campaign. Last year we topped our goal by almost 10% and had 88% participation - a record for us. The staff and faculty all seem to recognize the importance of helping students who might not be able to pursue their degree without scholarship assistance. We use little incentives, like a weekly drawing for a desirable parking space, and give-aways of t-shirts, caps, CDs etc. that our media buyer gets from local radio stations. Everyone who gives $50 or more gets a college sweatshirt, and everyone who gives $100 qualifies for a grand prize drawing for things like a day of sailing, baseball tickets, restaurant gift certificates, etc. We kickoff the campaign in late April or early May with an ice cream social, with our president and college officers dipping ice cream sundaes. The giveaways help, but the strongest appeal is that 'it's all about the students.'" -- Jim Graham, Walsh College

    "The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has created some incredible faculty and staff Web videos. You can watch them here:" -- Julie Stucky, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

    "We've increased our participation from about 7% 5 years ago to 65% last year. We have a theme each year. Sometimes they are fun themes "Give us a Piece of your Payday" and we handed out Payday candy bars. Sometimes, they are more serious, "I Believe in Walsh" about how their support is a statement of how they believe in our work and our students. Each year we hold a kickoff to the campaign with doughnuts, bagels, etc. This is generally well received with good attendance. We have incentive raffles, including a vacation raffle, gift cards, etc. At the end of the campaign we have an ice cream social during work hours for those that gave. We've found that ice cream is a power motivator!" -- Craig Eynon, Walsh University

    120 Institutions Are Participating in the 8th Annual FundList Direct Mail Exchange, and There's Room For You

    Each summer since 1999, FundList has managed a direct mail samples exchange for those schools and organizations interested in seeing samples from their peers.

    If you're not familiar with the Direct Mail Exchange, it's like one big direct mail sample gift box for you and your annual giving program. You send samples of your direct mail from this past year, wait by your mailbox, and you'll receive a box with samples from every other institution that participates in the exchange in return. There's no cost, except for your shipping costs.

    Last year, a record 150 schools participated, and more than 120 are already signed up for this year. For many, it's a crucial component of their program planning for the coming year, as they review the messages and materials created by their peers over the previous year.

    You can watch online powerpoint slideshows of five sample favorites from 2006 and 2007 here. Hope you'll make plans to join in the fun this year. The registration deadline is Tuesday, May 27th.

    Sun, Sand and SYBUNTS at the 4th-Annual Advancement Academy in San Diego

    Join FundList & FundSvcs listserv moderators Bob Burdenski & John Taylor, and a top-notch faculty and agenda for the fourth-annual Burdenski & Taylor Advancement Academy at the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina in San Diego July 29-30-31, 2008. The conference will once again have track sessions for advancement services, management, phonathons and annual giving. The monumental annual giving agenda will include the following:

    ...An all-annual-giving-faculty panel on alumni participation -- If you're trying to grow your alumni participation rate, where are the smartest places to aim your resources? How is the Internet increasingly useful for acquisition and young alumni giving?

    ...A special brand-new review of the best direct mail samples from the 2008 direct mail exchange. More than 150 schools participated last year -- see the very best of the new batch from the 2007 direct mail exchange.

    ...A session on effective personal solicitation in leadership annual giving programs. How does the annual giving program strenghen its role as a major gift pipeline? The who, when, where, why and how of personal visitation -- learn how to maximize your efforts while you're out of the office.

    ...A session on data mining and prospect segmentation; Non-donors are not created equal! What segments will be more beneficial to your acquisition efforts? How do we improve segmentation by learning from the donor segments we already have? Our appeals used to be limited by year and degree information -- what new opportunities are available to you today?

    ...Highlights From The 2008 Annual Giving Salary Survey -- In early 2008 Bob conducted a first-of-its-kind salary survey specific to the annual giving profession, with more than 700 participants. See Bob's first in-person presentation on the results of the survey.

    ...A special session on parent giving programs and volunteer engagement, hosted by Carleton College director of annual giving Chris Clark. "Helicopter" parents are hovering, how do we engage them successfully? Learn from one of the best reunion giving programs in the United States.

    ...Bob and John's wildly popular annual "Pardon The Interruption"-style wrap-up discussion about the most important current issues in annual giving and advancement services.

    Australian Report on Higher Education Philanthropy Underscores Alumni Giving Potential, Recommends Matching Gifts

    A new report on university giving in Australia emphasizes the importance of alumni as a philanthropic resource and recommends the creation of a government matching gift program.

    In September 2006 the Australian Minister for Education Science and Training asked the Business Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council to advise the Government on ways to develop a culture of philanthropic giving to universities and to establish a set of national best practice guidelines.

    A consulting group was engaged to identify how universities currently engage with potential donors, analyse stakeholder views, identify ways of building a culture of philanthropy and develop a set of national best practice guidelines. Universities Australia (formerly the Australian Vice Chancellor's Committee) undertook the management of the project on behalf of the Council.

    The report explores ways of building a culture of philanthropy in the higher education sector, and identifies practical, cost effective options that will assist universities to become more strategic in their fundraising. It puts forward a set of national best practice guidelines and delineates roadblocks and impediments to best practice. The report includes a number of exemplar case studies, and examines ways to disseminate best practice more broadly. The Council feels that the report provides an excellent foundation for the adoption of best practice approach to philanthropy in the higher education sector and endorses the public release of the report.

    When Athletics May Influence Alumni Giving

    An explanation that college leaders sometimes give for why their institutions must play big-time sports - and why they feel the need to pour money into big-time football and men's basketball programs to make them more competitive - is their belief that winning teams make alumni more likely to dig into their pockets when the fund raisers come calling.

    The perception persists even though numerous studies over the years have challenged the link between athletic success and giving to a college's general fund (stronger correlations have sometimes been found to giving to sports programs themselves).

    Most of the research on the purported link has focused on institution-level data - in other words, whether a college's alumni, as a group, contribute more, less or the same based on whether its teams win or lose. But a new study takes a different approach, examining giving decisions made by individual graduates at one selective institution. It finds some correlation between alumni giving and teams' on-the-field success - but not necessarily the type of connection that would justify pouring funds into high-profile teams like football and basketball.

    The study, published by the National Bureau of Economics Research, was produced by Jonathan Meer, a graduate student in economics at Stanford University and Harvey S. Rosen, an economics professor at Princeton University, who together have published several analyses of alumni giving.

    This one takes data about donations made by alumni at one "selective research university" referred to as "Anon U." - clues in the paper point to Princeton, though the researchers decline to identify it - and matches them with extensive information from the development and registrar's offices about the graduates, including their academic major, extracurricular activities and even SAT scores from their college days, as well as post-college information about their occupations and whether they married another graduate of Anon U.

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