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Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures
An Update on Regular, Annual and Social Media Giving Strategies    March, 2014
It's time for the yearly fundraising data from the Council For Aid To Education (CAE), and the news is mixed for annual giving fundraisers.  Once again, our dollars are up, while our number of donors is slightly down.


And yet, the nationwide continuing decline in alumni participation (down to 8.7% this year) deserves a bit of an asterisk -- As a country, we're conferring twice as many degrees today as we did in 1970.  That means a lot of smaller, old alumni classes are being replaced on the database with much bigger, young alumni classes. We're running hard to stay in one alumni participation place as the denominator grows fast.


At the same time, more and more of our prospects have abandoned their landline phone, and that's thrown a big curve ball at what's been a central element of education annual giving -- the phonathon.   


What's resulting is a whole lot of innovation -- in calling, in social media and in plenty of other old and new annual giving strategies as well.  That seems to be validated, in part, by the news that gift dollars for current operations actually rose 6.9% this past year.  That "current use" case for support can still resonate if it's said well -- and if it's heard. 


That's not to overlook record levels of student debt, a shaky job market for new graduates, and a sluggish economy in general -- all things that are working against us. But, it would be wrong to overlook the philanthropy, generosity and pride-in-the-institution that overwhelming numbers of prospects still feel for you.  So, before we declare the younger generation -- or anyone else -- unwilling to support us, make sure they've simply heard the message.    



MIT, Oxford, Australia and Omaha! Highlight Bob's Upcoming Speaking Dates
Bob Burdenski's spring and  summer speaking schedule is as busy as ever, with appearances scheduled around the world from New York to England to Australia.  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:
  • Northeast Annual Giving Conference (Pace University): Multiple Sessions and Keynote Speaker      -- March 20-21, 2014
  • Annual Giving Professionals Network (AGPN) "Meeting of the Minds" West Coast Annual Giving Conference (Cal Poly-Pomona University)  - Multiple Sessions and Keynote Speaker -- April 3-4, 2014
  • Oxford University "Inspire" Advancement Speaker Series (Oxford, UK) with Rebecca McKinlay 
    -- April 24, 2014
  • CASE Europe Spring Institute in Educational Fundraising (Loughborough, UK): Faculty Member and Regular Giving Plenary Speaker
    -- April 28-May 2, 2014
  • "Innovations In Annual Giving" Bob Burdenski One-Day Workshop  (University of Nebraska Omaha)
    -- June 3, 2014 
  • "Innovations In Annual Giving" Bob Burdenski One-Day Workshop  (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston)  -- July 24, 2014 
  • CASE Asia Pacific Spring Institute in Educational Fundraising (Melbourne, Australia): Faculty Member and Annual Giving Plenary -- September 29-October 2, 2014
Alumni Giving Is Up, Participation Is Down (Again) In Latest CAE Fundraising Report
Charitable contributions to colleges and universities in the United States increased 9 percent in 2013, according to the Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey, conducted by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE). At $33.80 billion, the total is the highest recorded in the history of the survey. In 2009, giving fell from $31.60 billion, which was then the historical high point, to $27.85 billion. Giving levels gradually recovered from that loss until reaching this year's high.

Among the institutions that responded to the survey, 59.5 percent raised more in 2013 than in 2012. Contributions for current operations increased 6.9 percent. Such contributions can be used to meet current-year expenditures.


Giving from alumni increased more than any other source of support, by 16.9 percent. Among survey respondents that provided details on components of alumni giving, gifts from alumni for capital purposes and for current operations both increased in 2013. The average gift per contributing alumnus increased 18.1 percent.   


Alumni participation, however, declined to 8.7 percent. In 2012, alumni participation was 9.2 percent. Participation is calculated by dividing the number of alumni donors by the number of alumni for whom the institution has ameans of contact (called the number of record). Among 951 institutions that reported in 2012 and 2013, the number of donors declined 1.7 percent, while the number of record increased 3.7 percent.  


Even in years when the number of donors increases, the number of record tends to increase more. In 2013, higher levels of giving among contributing alumni offset the decline in the number of donors, leading to the increase in alumni giving overall.


Read the full text of this Council For Aid To Education press release. 

FundList Members Share Ideas For Wishing A "Happy Anniversary" To Donors
Wishing prior donors a "happy anniversary" on the date of their last  gift has become a solicitation/stewardship strategy for many annual giving programs -- Some even take the time to send anniversary cards through the mail.  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:

"We've been doing a monthly reminder letter to our lybunts for the past two years.  Last year we had over a 10% response rate and consider the program a huge success.  It's important to note that we have to do this type of reminder by mail.  We initially tried doing it via email and did not get any responses."
-- Alexandra Delis, Northwestern University 


"We do a monthly letter for 1- and 2-year lapsed folks. It's on Advancement stationery and includes a pledge card and BRE.  Our results have been pretty positive - 41% response and almost $20k in revenue (average gift around $80).  Stats were slightly lower for the 2 year lapsed."  -- Billie Handa, Ohio University  


"We have done a quarterly anniversary "card" for the last year.  We have excellent results from this appeal, and have more than recouped our investment with each round."

-- Janeen W. Kooi, Manchester University


"I have pre-printed note cards printed up that are friendly and inviting and I just work the anniversary mailing into the things I do the first of every month.  At this point, I have definitely invested more into the project than what it has returned, but I view it not so much as a solicitation (although it technically is; we include a generic BRE), but as a part of donor relations.  I plan to continue the process, since it is not much trouble and I love the idea.  It shows people that we noticed that they gave last year at this time and courteously desire to remind them to make their annual contribution."  -- Krista Lee, Boston 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. 
The Latest Departures 
Other Recent Annual And Regular Giving Headlines  
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 ten 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. 

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.
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