Bob Singapore
Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures
An Update on Regular, Annual and Social Media Giving Strategies    February, 2014
I joined my old friend and CASE Reporting
 Standards &
Management Guidelines editor John Taylor for a meeting with the US News and World Report College and University Rankings data research staff in their Foggy Bottom offices this past week in Washington DC.  

The single agenda topic for the meeting was alumni giving participation rates -- the only metric in the US News rankings that a development office can directly impact through its work.


The bad news (for those who don't like it): US News will be continuing to track alumni giving participation as a data point in its rankings for the foreseeable future.  The magazine still considers giving participation to be one of the most uniformly measurable barometers of alumni satisfaction across institutions. 


The good news: US News will be modifying its counting guidelines to be more consistent with Council for Aid To Education (CAE) and CASE reporting standards -- which should make your advancement services office happy.  Also, the magazine is interested in eliminating some of the "creative" accounting and fundraising strategies that inflate donor counts while compromising the spirit of alumni giving as a measure of alumni satisfaction.  More to come on this topic as the conversations continue.    


As I wrote books, reviewed samples and traveled about in 2013, I collected plenty of smart new strategies for annual giving.  Five of my favorites follow below.



West Coast "Meeting of the Minds," Northeast Annual Giving Conference, and CASE Europe Institute Highlight Bob's 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:
  • 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 - Multiple Sessions and Keynote Speaker     
  • April 28-May 2, 2014 ~ CASE Europe Spring Institute in Educational Fundraising (Loughborough, UK): Faculty Member and Annual Giving Plenary
  • September 29-October 2, 2014 ~ CASE Asia Pacific Spring Institute in Educational Fundraising (Melbourne, Australia): Faculty Member and Annual Giving Plenary   
Places Pushing The Envelope:
Five Annual Giving Strategies We Love 
Each year, Bob collects examples of hundreds of annual giving appeals, videos, and other multimedia fundraising strategies.  Here are five recent favorites:  
Rice University's College Battle Appeal

Why We Love It: The appeal plays to a central point of affinity for Rice graduates - the residence hall "college" they lived in as students. Different from appeals that focus on class or academic units, the College Battle is another model that succeeds at reminding graduates that they're members of the Rice family in general, and their college residence hall in particular. The short-term duration of the appeal (six weeks) means that it's a point of emphasis for part of the year, while allowing the Rice Fund to emphasize other case for support messages at other times.  Learn more. 

The Culinary Institute's Digital Giving Catalog

Why We Love It:

While it would be prohibitively expensive as a printed appeal, It's a smart use of a digitally-produced document (designed via the Web site issuu) to present a catalog of giving ideas.  Learn more.
UConn's IGNITE Crowdfunding Program
Why We Love It:  Crowdfunding campaigns are in fashion these days, but UConn has the most thoughtful structure we've seen for achieving its own institutional development objectives.  A well-structured process for selecting student projects includes a signed commitment agreement from the students that they will assist in promoting, prospecting and stewarding
gifts in support of their project idea.  Rather than simply redirecting existing UConn donor interests, the program seeks to attract new donors via the students' own social networks, and obligates them to help provide some of the customized donor stewardship necessary as a result of crowdfunding campaign.  Beyond simply offering a new type of giving product, UConn's using it in a strategic way.  Learn more.
BYU's "Ode to a Donor" Audio Email Stewardship Message

Why We Love It: Annual giving stewardship used to be an oxymoron - in a paper-driven annual giving world, the printing and postage budgets were mostly spent soliciting gifts, not thanking donors.   But nowadays, the Internet has enabled us to be better relationship-builders in annual giving - how do you adequately appreciate an annual giving donor so that they can't say no to your next gift request? BYU's "Ode to a Donor" email message includes an audio clip of a BYU student reciting her poem in appreciation of BYU donors. It's the kind of warm (and inexpensive) stewardship that can only help with donor retention.
Learn more. 

Berkeley's Annual Giving Direct Mail Brochure

Why We Love It:  What's the best continuing role for direct mail, what should a mailing even look like these days, and what should the messages be?  We think one answer is exemplified by UC Berkeley's annual giving appeal brochure.  It makes great use of infographics, it celebrates excellence as opposed to talking solely about needs, and it raised more than $100,000 with just a reply envelope enclosed.  

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.

The Latest Departures
Quick Links
FundList Members Post Some Current Best Thinking on Senior Gift  Appeals
The Senior Gift remains a central part of many student philanthropy programs - teaching a parting message about the importance of gift support.  Here's a selection of some of the latest words-of-wisdom from FundList, the online annual giving listserv that Bob has moderated for more than 10 years:

"At Southwestern University we've strayed away from a single class "gift" and placed our focus on allowing seniors to support whatever initiative they choose. This allows our students to support departments, student organizations, or specific scholarships. For us, it's the beginning of cultivating prospects that already see the connection between dollars given and area of support. We love it."  -- Taylor Kidd, Southwestern University 

"If your seniors get a limited number of tickets to the graduation ceremony see if you can get 2 extras to use in a drawing. We have done this a  couple of times instead of a tangible give-a-way for every donor and received quite a lot of interest."  -- Elizabeth Barr, St. Leo University    


"One thing that we started doing that has really interested our student donors across all four years is holding a student donor breakfast.  It is hosted by the Chancellor and we invite all of the University Vice Chancellors and Dean of Admissions to attend as well.  It's an opportunity for our students to ask the administration anything they want and learn more about how the university is stewarding their donations.  They really seem to like being treated like high level donors who have a vested interest in the success of the university."  -- Harmonie Farrow, Texas Christian University

"We use Blue & Gold cords (our school colors) as an incentive for donating and publish their names in the commencement program. We just started doing it this semester and our donations increased. We call the cords the "spirit" cords and published a brief paragraph in the commencement program about what the cords mean."
-- Tori Follett, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire 


"Here we are able to use a portion of their student deposit (the contingency fee) as one of the options on our giving form (and most utilized).  However, we do not know the final amount of monies raised until July for a chosen senior project.  We've done this for the past 2 years, and there have only been about 5 pledges that I did not receive as the money had to cover some kind of damages.  It has taken us from raising around $3,000 to $10,000.  The quality of the projects have truly changed!"  -- Cindy Wilson, Central College


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

Online Innovations in Annual and Regular Giving: Ten Dozen Departures That Worked
Bob's third CASE annual/regular giving book will be released this Spring, 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 Annual And Regular Giving Headlines  
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 nearly 100 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.
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 Manitoba 

University of Maryland

University of Melbourne
University of Sheffield 

U of Western Australia

The Wheeler School

Western Washington U  

Robert Burdenski Annual Giving | 773-351-1728 | |
2736 N. Hampden #207
Chicago, IL 60614

Text | Link

Copyright © 20XX. All Rights Reserved.