COVID-19 has altered the way we connect and forced us to reimagine how to engage alumni, parents, and donors. Shelter-in-place mandates across much of the country led to innovative ways of staying in touch and engaged through digital channels. As regions begin to reopen, but still with social distancing measures and limited capacity for gatherings, higher education institutions are rethinking their engagement strategies for the remainder of 2020.
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How do I build relationships with alumni? Every higher education institution is grappling with this question, from the largest public universities to the smallest liberal arts colleges.
Campbell & Company addressed this challenge in the 2018 study, “Alumni Engagement: Best Practices for Building Long-Term Relationships,” and our team continues to focus on creative solutions to the alumni engagement question. While there are no silver bullets, applying best practices from online fundraising to your alumni engagement efforts can help move the needle.
Alumni engagement is a perennial concern among higher education advancement professionals—and for good reason: a strong program can not only sustain your institution's annual fund over the long term, it can also help build your major donor pipeline and provide your school with some of its most effective volunteers.
Although institutions of every stripe would stand to benefit from engaging their alumni more effectively, the challenges of building support among alumni are of particular relevance to small and mid-size liberal arts colleges. These institutions’ strengths and weaknesses present them with a unique set of opportunities and challenges.
With the country at nearly full employment, hiring managers are feeling the pinch of a tight workforce. Traditionally, higher employment signals accelerated turnover and more spirited bidding for top talent.
Even in less competitive talent environments, nonprofits have faced significant challenges in hiring experienced fundraisers for more than a decade. As philanthropic revenues become more important to the success of all organizations, higher education institutions have set ambitious goals for comprehensive campaigns that require large teams of effective fundraisers.
Between 2000 and 2010, parent giving to colleges and universities rose nearly 50 percent. As this trend continues to gain momentum, higher education institutions are searching for best practices to engage parents and capitalize on this growing revenue stream. As of 2013, more than 500 colleges and universities across the U.S. have parent programs, 82 percent of which carry out active fundraising—a dramatic increase from just 44 percent in 2003. A great deal of these programs are quite new with many being less than 10 years old; however, as with all philanthropic initiatives, understanding your donor base and building relationships are at the core of successful parent engagement.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about recent mega-gifts to higher education institutions, urging colleges and universities of all sizes to recognize the potential for transformative gifts and plan accordingly. To follow up, I’m digging into a topic related to building long-term relationships with major donors: alumni engagement metrics. How do we measure engagement levels and assign scores to alumni that will help us prioritize prospects and predict future major—or even mega—gifts?
In the summer of 2016, we launched a study to explore emerging best practices in international fundraising among universities, colleges, and independent schools. Educational institutions have experienced a dramatic uptick in international student enrollment over the past few decades. This trend continues to grow, with the number of international students in the U.S. reaching a record high of 1,043,839 in the 2015-2016 academic year.
Academic institutions have experienced a dramatic increase in matriculation of students from
around the world as our economy and society have globalized in the last few decades. According to the Open Doors Report on International Exchange, the number of international students in the U.S. reached a record high of 1,043,839 in the 2015-2016 academic year.
January was a banner month for mega-gifts to U.S. universities. In the span of a week, three large gifts made headlines:
- $100 million to Santa Clara University from John and Susan Sobrato to establish a new facility for STEM education
- $279 million to University of Washington from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand global health research
- $150 million to Cornell University from SC Johnson and Fisk Johnson to support the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
According to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, 2015 set a record as America’s most generous year in philanthropy with a total of $373.25 billion, a direct reflection of both economic improvement and the dedication of philanthropists driving Americans to record levels of giving.