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Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures
An Update on Regular, Annual and Social Media Giving Strategies       August, 2013

It's a new fiscal year for many institutions, which means the calendar is filling up with annual, regular and social media giving program assessments and planning sessions for the coming fundraising year ahead.  The right mix of "old" annual giving strategies as well as "new" media, apps, and fundraising platforms has never been more important to your success. 


Crowdfunding, blitz appeals, micro-philanthropy and other social media strategies for annual and regular giving are among my speaking topics this fall, with upcoming international dates in Australia and Hong Kong, and a CASE Webinar about annual giving strategies for overseas audiences. See the full schedule below.


The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has had one of the most thoughtful approaches to student engagement I've seen over the years. I had a lovely chat in Chicago with Dvorit Mausner, who was an important member of the "Proud Penn Traditions" team until departing for a career in consulting. You can listen to our podcast conversation via the article below.


Get yourself some popcorn and rummage through more than 40 annual giving-related videos in the Annual Fund Film Festival.  Have an appeal video you're proud of?  On with the show below, and send your link along, too.  


Flat doesn't have to be the new up -- Take a look at the partial list of institutions that had good participation success stories in FY13. See the listing below. 


Happy New Year!  And best wishes for fundraising success all year long. 



Social Media Giving's The Hot Topic, And Bob's Speaking Calendar Spans Four Continents
Bob Burdenski's upcoming speaking schedule is as busy as ever, with appearances scheduled around the world from New York to England to Australia. His schedule has gotten particularly busy discussing social media annual giving strategies, including an upcoming CASE Webinar on overseas annual giving strategies. Come on out and say hello to Bob if you're in the neighborhood -- virtually or otherwise. More information about all of these speaking engagements is available on Bob's Web site here. Bob's upcoming dates include:
  • September 27, 2013 ~ EducatePlus Half-Day Annual Giving Workshop, Melbourne Grammar School (Melbourne, Australia)      
  • September 30, 2013 ~ CASE Asia Pacific Institute in Educational Fundraising (Melbourne, Australia): Faculty Member and Annual Giving Plenary Session
  • October 7, 2013 ~ CASE Asia Pacific Annual Giving Masterclass - St. Aloysius College (Sydney, Australia) With Murray Happ   More Innovations in Annual Giving   
  • October 9, 2013 ~ CASE Asia Pacific Annual Giving Masterclass - University of Oxford China Office (Hong Kong, SAR)   More Innovations in Annual Giving    
  • January 30, 2014 ~ CASE Online Webinar: Annual Giving Strategies For Overseas Audiences      
  • March 20-21, 2014 ~ Northeast Annual Giving Conference (Pace University): Multiple Sessions and Keynote Speaker     
  • April 3-4, 2014 ~ Annual Giving Professionals Network (AGPN) Meeting of the Minds West Coast Annual Giving Conference - Keynote Speaker     
  • April 28-May 2, 2014 ~ CASE Europe Spring Institute in Educational Fundraising (Loughborough, UK): Faculty Member and Annual Giving Plenary
Penn Sets Message Goals For Its "Proud Penn Traditions" Program -- And There's A Lesson For Every Institution

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has had one of the most thoughtful approaches to student engagement I've seen over the years.  Penn looked at the strong performance of its senior gift program -- and its equally strong fall-off in recent graduate giving -- and decided to be more strategic and message-minded in setting its student philanthropy goals.  What was the value of 90%+ senior giving, if it didn't appear to translate into future alumni giving? 

Penn's thinking is relevant to all educational institutions -- regardless of your lack of Penn's Ivy League-pedigree, it's still your responsibility to think through the marketing goals and objectives of your student audience.   

A few months back, I had a lovely chat in Chicago with Dvorit Mausner, who was an important member of the "Proud Penn Traditions" team until departing for a new career in consulting.  


During our 15-minute chat, she reviewed some of the challenges, goals and metrics for the "Proud Penn Traditions" program.  You can listen to our chat via iTunes as a Bob Burdenski podcast, or access it via Bob's Web page.

Get Your Popcorn - Bob's Annual Fund Film Festival Is Two Hours Of Annual Fund Film Fun
Get your self some popcorn and rummage through more than 40 annual giving-related videos in Bob's Annual Fund Film Festival on YouTube. 

Some are entertaining, some are serious, some are stewardship, and some are just silly.  Some promote senior giving. Some promote text-to-give.  Some obviously had a pretty big budget.  Some obviously did not.  Many didn't have a clear way to measure success, but we appreciate their efforts to get their messages across.

Have an appeal vi
deo you're proud of?  Send the link along and Bob will add it to his collection.   Browse a list of each video and institution, or watch the entire collection here.
"Is This A Good Time To Chat?"  Fundlist Posters Offer Tips On A Phonathon Question
Asking phonathon prospects whether or not it's a good time to chat may seem like a nice courtesy, but it's often a conversation killer!  A recent question posed on FundList resulted in some good tips and strategies for engaging prospects in conversation...

"I like the "I hope you are having a good evening..." I have tried for years to encourage callers not to ask "How are you this evening?" with very little luck. I think giving them something else to say instead makes it a lot easier."  -- Stacy Tucker-Potter ('02), Truman State University


"If you're calling non-donors, asking (is this a good time?) is almost a surefire way to get a refusal.  I believe when the caller asks 'How are you tonight?"' that serves as an informal way of asking "Is this is a good time to talk?" without risking the prospect dismissing the phone call."  -- Daniel Fahrer M.S.Ed, Rutgers University Foundation


"At our phonathon, we used to ask "Can I have just a few minutes of your time?" to all alums. Now we only ask Lybunts. If they're a faithful donor, we figure the courtesy can be extended pretty harmlessly. We no longer ask nondonors or sybunts."  -- Meghan Spencer, '12  Agnes Scott College


"We have worked with our students to listen on their calls. If they can sense the prospect is busy or now isn't a good time, they will go right into the ask - "I understand you must be busy, so let me tell you the reason for my call tonight."
  -- Lindsay Allen, Boston College

"We train our callers to never ask if 'it is a good time.' In my experience two related things often happen:  First, the prospect uses it as an eject button for the call and figures if the caller is offering them a way off the phone right away, why no take it? And second, callers who are struggling offer it to prospects as a way to avoid a refusal they think might happen later in the call. However, if the caller hears a lot of activity in the background like a crying baby or dogs barking like someone is at the door, the caller can ask if another time would be better. I don't think the question itself is bad, but by removing it from calling I've only seen positive results in my experience." -- Jonathan Reyes, San Jose State University


Bob has served as the moderator and janitor of FundList for nearly half of its 25-year history.  Join the discussion and enjoy some online annual giving therapy! 


The Latest Departures
Quick Links
We're Honored To Have Worked With Great Institutions In Recent Months, Including:

Babson College

Berry College 

Buena Vista University 

Cal State Chico

Cal State Long Beach

California State System   

Cedarville University 

Empire State College

Georgia Southern U Grand Valley State U

John Brown University

LaTrobe University 

Lehigh University

Singapore Managemt Uni 

Sidwell Friends School

University of Maryland

U of Western Australia

The Wheeler School

Western Washington U  

14th Annual Giving Appeal Exchange Attracts More Than 300 Institutions
A sincere thank you to the more than 300 institutions that participated this summer in the 14th-Annual Annual Giving Appeal Exchange.  Big thanks also to my old friend Jill Dooley at Grand Valley State University for being such a capable co-host.  There's still time to join in the fun if you haven't already.  
Where "Flat" Was Not The New "Up" - Some Participation Success Stories in FY13
Annual giving has faced some legitimate challenges over the past few years -- student debt, a shaky economy, and changing communications preferences -- but it's wrong to conclude that growth can't happen and "flat is the new up."  Here are some success stories emerging from the end of the fiscal year...

Browse 10 Years Of Bob's Newsletter Archives

All of Bob's previous (although now, not-so "Latest") Latest Annual Giving Departures email newsletters are available for reading free at  


Browse nearly 10 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.

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