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Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures
An Update on Regular, Annual and Social Media Giving Strategies     November, 2013
It was a whirlwind and world-wide month of travel in September and October, including a visit with the development team at Fudan University in Shanghai.  The University is translating and publishing my original CASE book, "Innovations in Annual Giving: Ten Departures That Worked" -- the first CASE book ever translated into Chinese.

The trip also included teaching CASE Annual Giving Masterclasses in Hong Kong, and in Sydney, Australia, where this striking photo below was taken with the class group from the terrace at St. Aloysius College overlooking the Sydney harbor. 

Lastly, I marked my fourth year serving on the faculty of the CASE Asia Pacific Institute in Educational Fundraising (as the resident annual giving guy).  My tutorial group (below) represented four different countries -- India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.  More than 50 other delegates joined them for a fun-filled week.    

The annual giving drum is beating worldwide.  Give thanks for that.

"Innovations in Annual Giving" Workshops in Houston and the Twin Cities Highlight Bob's Upcoming Speaking Schedule
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:
  • January 7, 2014 ~ "More Innovations in Annual Giving" Bob Burdenski One-Day Workshop
    (University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN)      
  • January 9, 2014 ~ "More Innovations in Annual Giving" Bob Burdenski One-Day Workshop
    (Rice University, Houston, TX)       
  • 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
Columbia U. Does It Again:  Giving Day 2014 Raises $7.8 Million in Twenty-Four Hours 
After 24 hours of fundraising and tweeting, Columbia University brought in $7.8 million during its second annual Giving Day on October 24, 2014.


The Columbia Alumni Association's day-long fundraising push, which reeled in just under $7 million last year, kicked off at midnight on Wednesday, after the launch of the four undergraduate schools' senior funds.


"This is a fun day to demonstrate a short burst of energy and real-time tracking to see exactly how our alums get behind the mission of Columbia," CloEve Demmer, director of the alumni association's annual fund, said.


The schools and programs that participated each received a share of a $220,500 prize based on their percentage of total funds raised. Barnard, the Earth Institute, and the Columbia Global Centers-the day's lowest earner, with only $505 raised-participated for the first time this year.


Like last year, Columbia College and Athletics were the top two earners, raising $2.4 and $1.8 million, respectively. The School of Continuing Education had the highest percentage of alumni participation for the second year in a row, earning a bonus of $25,000.  


Throughout the day, the Alumni Association rewarded the schools and programs with extra funds. The Business School won $5,000 for having the most international donors by 9 a.m., and Columbia University Libraries won an extra $2,000 for tweeting.


There were a variety of events to promote Giving Day on campus, including panels with faculty members and deans. The Alumni Association heavily advertised the event on Twitter, encouraging donors to share why they donated to Columbia with the hashtag #WhyIGive.


Read the full text of this Columbia Spectator article here. 

With 63.7% Participation, Thomas Aquinas College Edges Princeton For Top Alumni Giving Rate In
2013 U.S. News & World Report Rankings
As part of its annual ranking of American colleges and universities, U.S. News & World Report measures the percentage of alumni who contribute to their colleges and universities, so as to gauge graduates' satisfaction with the education they have received. In its latest survey of more than 1,200 schools - based on average giving rates between 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 - the magazine ranks Thomas Aquinas College first in the United States, unseating the previously "most beloved" college, Princeton University.

"We are profoundly grateful to our alumni for their generous and sacrificial support," says Vice President for Development Paul J. O'Reilly. 
"Not only do alumni gifts directly help to cover our $4 million in annual financial aid costs, but they also attract the support of philanthropic foundations, which use alumni giving as a measure of the College's institutional strength."  


The College's 63.7 percent alumni-giving rate - a 5 point increase since last year - bucks a national trend of declining contributions, according to U.S. News. The College's rate is nearly five times greater than the national average rate of 12.8 percent, and 7.8 percentage points higher than the average among those schools with the Top 10 highest rates (55.9 percent). 


Read the full text of this Thomas Aquinas College press release.


FundList Members Post Some Current Best Thinking on Text-To-Give Fundraising Appeals
Text-to-give strategies for educational institutions have had some successes -- as well as frustrations -- over the past few years.  Here's a selection of some of the latest words-of-wisdom from FundList:

"We had success with text-to-give primarily because we made sure that our campaign was at the same time as our homecoming events.  I noticed in our marketing campaign that things like radio ads, video, social media, flyers and email had very few results. The biggest outcome was incorporating our ask into our halftime show. Not just a jumbotron post, we actually had our marching band make the '50555' formation on the field while our VP and President asked the crowd to make a donation. This was the biggest boost to our numbers. There were other important steps we made but at the end of the campaign we had around $10,000 and 2,000 donors.
"  -- Jeff Shaw, Texas Southern University

"It's not a question of "if" you go mobile, but "when."  Young alumni will not have land lines. They live on their mobile devices. They will change jobs and move a lot. You will not have valid snail mail addresses for them. Even our "older" alumni are dumping land line phones in favor of mobile. We will lose them, too, if we don't capture their cell phone numbers. Whether you're soliciting with direct mail, telephones, email, social media, events, face-to-face or text-to-give, you know your audience and ways in which they want to be asked.  The first phase of adding a mobile giving program to your multichannel fundraising is getting your alumni and friends (and students) to opt-in to your mobile community. We are in that phase.  Anything new takes time, and with that in mind, it's exciting to be coming up with new ideas to add mobile efforts and goals to our FY14 annual giving plan."

-- Pat Spanjer, Eastern Washington University


"We are coming to the end of our 1st year (of text-to-give) and I am compiling some info in support of continuing/discontinuing this process. As it stands now, our expense far exceeds our return in donations.  We have only offered this option of giving on our website, and in our mailed and e-mailed solicitations.  We have never used the pledge-to-give option, nor have we used it at an athletic function. My concerns:

  1. We didn't want to give our donors the option of only giving $10, so we only made this available to our non-donors and students.
  2. We must call the phone numbers on the reports to get donor information.
  3. If we don't get hold of the donors, which is generally the case, we do not know the true intention of their gift (i.e., which fund).
  4. The time between the text and the actual check receipt can be months.
I feel like we should not totally abandon this whole texting idea, because it seems like we need to keep up with the "times", but I don't know that the idea has been perfected yet, at least, not for our needs."

-- Roxanne Thompson, Centenary College    


"We use mGive and they have been very helpful.  Our donors are able to designate gifts to a short list of funds.  mGive doesn't separate out the donations, so we have to keep track on our end.  In an effort to record alumni donors, we ask text-to-give donors to add their name and graduation year to their text message.  Seems to work out fine!" 
-- Karen LaMalva, University of Connecticut Foundation, Inc. 


 Join the Fundlist discussion and enjoy some online annual giving therapy.  

The Latest Departures
Quick Links
Online Innovations in Annual and Regular Giving: Ten Dozen Departures That Worked
Bob's third CASE annual/regular giving book will be released next month, and will be the first CASE book to feature a pdf-viewable version with live, embedded Web links.  Don't just read about a video -- watch the video.  Don't just see a photo of a Web page -- visit the Web page. 

While Bob's first CASE annual giving book ten years ago featured ten examples, his new book features more than ten dozen examples of smart online annual giving strategies. 
Watch for it at the CASE Bookstore, and at upcoming CASE conferences in 2014.
Other Recent Headlines of Annual Giving Success Stories
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

Geelong Grammar School 

Georgia Southern U  

Grand Valley State U

John Brown University

LaTrobe University 

Lehigh University

Singapore Managemt Uni 

Sidwell Friends School

University of Maryland

University of Melbourne 

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.  
Bob's Annual Fund Film Festival Is Four Hours Of Annual Fund Film Fun
Get yourself some popcorn and rummage through more than 70 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.
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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