|Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures|
It's October, and the temperatures are falling fast in Chicago. We're still a little bummed here about the Olympics, but, to add a little smile to the season, here's my favorite Halloween annual giving appeal, compliments of Old Dominion University.
Next month, I'll be Down Under again, conducting workshops for ArtSupport Australia in Melbourne and Sydney, a workshop for ADAPE (Association of Development and Alumni Professionals in Education) Australasia at the University of Sydney, and my first-ever workshop in New Zealand for ADAPE at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). I'm really looking forward to doing The Wave with the Kiwis!
In addition to the work that's underway on my third book, I've contributed a few pages to the new CASE marketing-in-education book, The Real U: Building Brands that Resonate with Students, Faculty, Staff, and Donors edited by old friend Rob Moore of Lipman Hearne. The book will be published by CASE in January 2010.
Across the pond, I've contributed a whole annual giving chapter to a new marketing book by David Willows of the International School of Brussels. David's book will soon be published by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS).
We're proud to be working with a number of new or returning clients, including the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Sydney, King's College London, and the University of Reading.
Lastly, I'm very pleased to be moderating the first Art Schools Annual Giving Conference, to be hosted by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on July 15-16, 2010. If you're with an art school and would like to hear more about the plans, send me a note and I'll paint you a picture!
The fundraising times are challenging, but the work of your institution is as important as ever. Best wishes for ongoing annual giving success.
In Bob's first Innovations in Annual Giving book in 2003, one of the featured "innovations" was the then-new annual giving Web page developed by the University of Rochester. It had no particular functionality -- the innovation was just that an annual giving Web page existed online.
Both the Internet and annual giving have come a long way since then, so much so that it's not difficult to fill a whole book with annual giving fundraising strategies and examples entirely with Internet-based "innovations."
But, how to talk about and illustrate "new media" examples in an "old media" printed book?
The answer: Bob's third book will be an innovation in its own right. The book will be available in dual print and Web versions, with the Web edition full of direct embedded links to the online examples featured in every chapter. Audiences and readers have appreciated Bob's sample sharing for years; Now readers will be able to see Web pages, videos, email messages and other content just as Bob's talking about them, with the click of the mouse.
Writing for Bob Burdenski's third book is underway, and will be completed in 2010. Continuing on the case-history format of Bob's first two books, Innovations in Annual Giving and More Innovations in Annual Giving, Innovations in Annual Giving 3.0 will feature institutions that created smart new annual giving fundraising strategies using the Internet.
Bob has put together a two-day, on-site annual giving program review specifically-designed for the particular fundraising challenges and opportunities at independent schools.
Before making any changes to your fundraising budget, make sure you're getting as much productivity out of your current annual giving program as possible, and identify smart opportunities to cut costs without impacting gift revenue.
Take two days this winter for
a mid-year review of your program and we'll
A summary follow-up report will leave you with the report card you need for optimizing your annual giving program. Contact Bob for more details and available dates.
These days, any discussion of marketing and brand management among higher education officials is bound to end up colliding with the social Web. And it will most likely get stuck there.
As prospective students, current students, and alumni increasingly make Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube their portals to the world, many colleges that once balked at engaging their populations in the social media realm are now seeking to leverage these sites to attract applicants and boost fundraising efforts. "Put the words 'social,' 'Facebook,' or 'Web 2.0' in the title of any higher education conference session and you are guaranteed a standing room only crowd," wrote Jennifer Copeland, general manager of the enrollment marketing firm DemandEngine, in a recent report.
But even as more and more colleges create profiles, fan pages, and Twitter feeds, the question of how best to take advantage of these adolescent technologies - and how influential they actually are in terms of recruiting students and prompting donations - remains largely unanswered.
And while plenty of colleges curate Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds, the absence of proven best practices has left some colleges leery of jumping into the social Web, says Sean Fitzgerald, vice president for business development at the marketing firm Spectrum Creative Solutions. "We've found that a lot of clients that we talk to are real apprehensive about using social networking tools because they don't know much about it," Fitzgerald says.
"It's easy to be against something you're afraid of, and it's easy to be afraid of something you don't understand," says Brad Ward, CEO of BlueFuego, a consulting agency that monitors chatter about its clients (which include Abilene Christian University, Indiana University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst) and advises them on the "do's and dont's" of the social Web. "That's where I think a lot of administrators are on this."
Other colleges have begun wading into Facebook and Twitter without having a coherent strategic plan in place - an approach that experts say could leave them at an even greater disadvantage than missing the boat.
Should your alumni magazine be sent without a means of sending back a gift? Should all communications include a giving envelope? And do you pay for the postage (BRE) to send it back, or don't you? Judging from the latest postings on FundList, the debate rages on:
Yes we always include reply envelopes in our magazine. We typically have enough gifts returned to pay for all costs related to the magazine plus extra. -- Sheila Germaine, Loras College
We do not include BREs in any of our mailings (solicitation or otherwise). Instead of a BRE we simply insert a #9 envelope with our return address printed on it (non-postage paid return envelope). We have seen first hand that it is not detrimental. Those that are willing to support the cause are willing to put a stamp on the envelope and if are unwilling to pay the postage, they go online to make a gift. -- Kim Malcolm, Ivey School of Business
We have a quarterly magazine and put an envelope in it before the calendar year-end and once again at fiscal year end. Our envelopes have always performed fairly well, however, last year, we made them goldenrod yellow to make them stand out a little more. This resulted in an additional 45 gifts and an additional $15,037. (Envelopes in total for 07-08 brought in 157 gifts and $62,157.) -- Aleta Lin, Gustavus Adolphus College
You will NOT see a big lift from (putting an envelope in) the magazine. However, you will see a return check for every 20 "thank you letters" mailed with a BRE. (Roughly 5% of everyone you mail a thank you too. Note: the return gift does not happen immediately, like a normal appeal.) We code our BRE and we see that people keep them with the thank you letter and use them throughout the year. Try it, you'll like it. -- Roy C. Jones, Liberty University
We used to include an envelope in our quarterly magazine, however last year we stopped inserting the envelope and replaced it with a quarter page ad to donate online (staying consistent with our going green initiative). The envelopes never did have a great rate of return, and we have not seen a change in the donations this generates. -- Rebecca A. Geisler, Walsh College
Retired Greensboro businessman and Western Carolina University alumnus Wesley R. Elingburg has offered to match gifts by fellow benefactors of $1,000 or more as part of a fundraising challenge. Elingburg, a 1978 graduate, enabled WCU to establish an endowed professorship in business innovation with a gift of $250,000 in 2006.
Through the newly established Elingburg Challenge, the former chief financial officer with Burlington-based Laboratory Corporation of America is offering to match gifts to WCU's Loyalty fund, which provides scholarships and support for students, faculty and programs.
"I truly understand the importance of the Loyalty Fund, and I want to do what I can to promote its mission of providing merit-based scholarships to help continue attracting the top students to attend my alma mater," said Elingburg, who has been contributing to the fund for more than 17 years. "That's why I am challenging alumni and friends of the university to increase their giving levels."
Through the challenge, Elingburg will match gifts of $1,000 or more from donors who did not contribute last fiscal year, or the portion above the amount of last fiscal year's contribution from donors who increase their giving to $1,000 or more.
"The need for higher levels of giving to the Loyalty Fund is increasingly vital as students struggle to pay for their education, while facing new challenges created by the current economic downturn," said Natalie Clark, director of annual giving at WCU. "Gifts totaling $1,000 or more are not only eligible to be matched through the Elingburg Challenge, but also will qualify donors for an invitation to the Annual Scholarship Luncheon, where they can meet students who have benefited from their generosity."
For decades, UK universities have lagged behind their American counterparts when it comes to asking their alumni to stump up and invest in their future, but gathering large sums through philanthropic donations is more important than ever. Thanks to the recession, British universities need to tap new sources of funding and keep them flowing.
It sounds like a big ask, but recent research from the US suggests that all the UK needs to do is to look to its own past. A paper written by Eve Proper, institute co-ordinator of the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, says the roots of private funding for higher education are actually British, with early investment a key factor in the establishment of the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and many redbricks.
Her paper, "Bringing Educational Fundraising Back to Great Britain", published earlier this year in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, concludes that mass investment from the state meant that UK universities forgot how to fundraise. "Government funding drove out most private giving as support of higher education was transformed into a government responsibility."
But circumstances are changing: public funding for higher education is set to plummet and when it does, something will have to plug the financial gap. Getting alumni fundraising right will become critical, but it is very easy to get it wrong.
The UK is still learning these lessons. Vice-chancellors have been told that they cannot be credible fundraisers unless they have given a sum of money to the university themselves. Earlier this year, Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, said he had been "spatchcocked" by his own staff, who tapped him up for a £10,000 donation over a boozy meal.
Baylor University's board of regents is seeking to end a decade of tensions with the Baylor Alumni Association by asking it to give up its identity as an independent organization.
The regents are asking the 19,000-member association to dissolve the independent nonprofit status it has had since 1978 and place its funds, publications, employees and alumni relations efforts under the authority of the Baylor administration.
The merger would resolve a "conflict of purposes" between the two organizations that has hurt Baylor's "brand" and fundraising ability, board of regents chairman Dary Stone and interim President David Garland wrote in a letter to alumni association board members. They said the association has too often set itself up as a "watchdog" or "loyal opposition," which they said is an inappropriate role and "not good for Baylor."
The BAA board discussed the proposal at its Saturday meeting after a presentation from regent Bob Beauchamp. The alumni agreed to continue discussing the proposal at future meetings, BAA President David Lacy said. Lacy, a Waco banker, said the association will form a committee to examine the proposal and may respond with a "counter-proposal."
Beauchamp, president and CEO of BMC Software Inc. of Houston and father of two Baylor students, became a regent this year, and he quickly came to the conclusion that the alumni association was underperforming.
Jeff Kilgore, executive vice-president of the alumni association, defended the association's record, saying that more than 50 percent of Baylor's donors last year were alumni association members, and more than 50 percent of the total dollars given to the school came from BAA members' wallets.
The Loyola University New Orleans Class of 2009 dedicated a sculptural bench to the university on Saturday, Aug. 29, to pay tribute to 637 colleges that took in displaced Loyola students in the semester following Hurricane Katrina. Festivities in the sculpture garden featured entertainment by the Algiers Brass Band, an interactive art station and refreshments.
The Class of 2009 were freshmen when Katrina came ashore in New Orleans in 2005. After the hurricane and subsequent levee failures, Loyola was forced to suspend classes, and students scattered to colleges and law schools across North America and Europe. The bench, by New Orleans metal artist David Borgerding, incorporates the names of each of the schools into the piece, which is shaped like the spiral of a hurricane.
Since 1998, Loyola University's Senior Class Gift Program, administered by the Office of the Annual Fund, has raised funds and educated graduating seniors about the important tradition of alumni giving.
"This year's class gift is especially meaningful because our students chose to not only give an inspirational gift to our campus," said Shon Cowan Baker, associate director of the Annual Fund, "but they chose to share this gift with the 637 colleges and universities who helped bring them a bit of certainty during such an uncertain time."
Veronica Sharkey, '09, agreed the gift accomplishes dual goals: honoring the "Katrina colleges" as well as Loyola. "We really wanted to find a way to thank all the schools and other institutions that helped us after Katrina," Sharkey said. "They were under no obligation to take us in, but did so because it was the right thing to do."
All of Bob's previous (although now, not-so "Latest") Latest Annual Giving Departures email newsletters are available for reading free at BobBurdenski.com.
Browse more than 5 years of newsletters - you can track the beginnings of data mining, recurring giving, and YouTube as annual giving strategies during that time. Thumbnail summaries of each newsletter tell you what's included in each one.