How do colleges and universities build the kind of relationships with their alumni and friends that drive philanthropy? It’s the central question within any institution’s advancement office. It was also the topic of a recent Capture Higher Ed webinar, Developing Alumni Relationships that Drive Participation.
Summing up his presentation, Kevin Bauman, Capture’s director of philanthropic initiatives, outlined five ways to cultivate those relationships. They are:
- Deliver consistent, relevant and meaningful messaging when, where and how alumni engage with your institutional digitally: The true indication of affinity today is a mathematically derived score that measures the frequency, duration and diversity of every alum’s interaction with your institution as they interact with your largest digital resource — your website. This is when they read articles, register for events, buy football tickets, look up professors, research planned gifts or engage in the myriad of other options they can on your site.
- Show interest in the donor: Be sure to ask for the relationship. For example, deliver website visitors the opportunity to share a memory about a past student, professor or president. Or indicate that you are paying attention to them by inviting them to annual university events like the president’s State of the University address. “The key is to show interest in the alumnus not the gift,” Bauman says.
- Encourage repeat interactions: Alumni receiving custom content online and custom triggered follow-up are 44% more likely to return and return 29% sooner. “As you send the alumni newsletter, alumni naturally click through just as any other interaction,” Bauman says. “Developing a strategy that integrates your marketing automation trigger trending topics from the e-newsletter delivers fresh content known to be trending in the alumni community.”
- Educate alumni on the philanthropic process. For instance, use your website to offer alumni examples of the best charitable gifts to make at your institution in the coming year. You can also use your website to illustrate the impact of gifts through stories, student testimonials and more.
- Identify planned giving interest and provide meaningful guidance: More than 80% of visitors identified looking at resources on the planned giving page have never been assigned.
At Capture, we have found that adding alumni tracking to your website provides more than 90% more leads and insights compared to simply tracking click through.
“The key to developing relationships is understanding individual points of affinity,” Bauman concludes in the webinar. “The key to understanding individual points of affinity is understanding what happens after I click or when I visit organically — a much stronger indicator of interest.”
By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed