Ideas, insights and inspirations.

This post was inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising.

It’s naive to think that everyone associated with the college is a prospective donor. It’s equally naive to expect that alumni who show up at glitzy events or receive slick campaign marketing materials will end up donating.

A college can, however, increase the chances of receiving donations from various constituents by following sensible guidelines. Jim Langley, of Langley Innovations, buckets them into (a) Affiliation, (b) Agency, (c) Appreciation and (d) Accountability.

Alumni likely to donate are those who:

  1. Worked on campus when they were students.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invest in work study, student research, student experience and student wellness initiatives.
  2. Remained actively engaged/involved with the school after graduation.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them as volunteers, interviewers and feature their accomplishments in university publications.
  3. As students, benefited from special relationships with an exceptional faculty or staff.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invest in staff development, teaching assistanceships, and student research.
  4. Have consistently given in the past, and were thanked and told how their giving had a positive impact on people’s lives.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Keep them involved and invest in sustaining the relationship.
  5. Were nurtured by ongoing communication and asked for advice on the future direction of the school.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them into the strategic planning, advisory councils, judges in competitions, and thought leadership forums.
  6. See an alignment between their personal passions, life purpose, deepest values and institutional ambition and values.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Unpack the various dimensions of college mission/vision with high-octane storytelling in blogs, news and university magazine.
  7. Believe the value of their degree was far greater than its cost.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Build the case for the tangible value of each degree and the intangible student experience.
  8. See their personal values being channeled by the institution for societal change.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them to participate in immersive experiences that viscerally reveal the impact their contribution will make.
  9. Wish to pass on the most valuable lessons life has taught them.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them into the strategic planning, expert panels, advisory boards, judges in competitions, and thought leadership forums.
  10. Volunteered their time to the institution in various capacities.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Ask them to volunteer in community action projects.
  11. Weren’t offered full scholarships.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Use financial aid leveraging models to distribute precious funds.

Major Donors likely to donate are those who:

  1. See presidents who can articulate the story of the institution’s highest purposes and greatest possibilities, where the institution is today, where it needs to go tomorrow, why it’s important that it does so, and what it’ll take to get there.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invest in a cogent and impactful case for giving.
  2. Feel confident that their investment will translate into significant, lasting and transformational societal impact.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them to participate in immersive experiences that viscerally reveal the impact their contribution will make.
  3. Perceive a clear sense of institutional purpose, which aligns with their own personal passions, life purpose and deepest values.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Unpack the various dimensions of college mission/vision with high-octane storytelling in blogs, news and university magazine.
  4. Have had an ongoing affiliation with the institution and have been giving for a decade or more.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Keep them involved and invest in sustaining the relationship.
  5. Had a voice or hand in shaping the institution.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them into the strategic planning, expert panels, advisory boards, judges in competitions, and thought leadership forums.
  6. Sense that the institution has the patience to work through a 1-2 year brokering process.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Romance them patiently.

Corporations likely to donate are those who:

  1. Can leverage campaign priorities to realize their corporate objectives, including talent recruitment, knowledge transfer that gives them competitive advantage, and positive community perceptions.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Shape your case for giving with insightful research.
  2. Clearly perceive accountability and a measurable set of expected outcomes.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Address these in your pitch.
  3. Sense a model of leadership that is founded on stewardship.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Demonstrate this through university magazine and president’s blog.

Foundations likely to donate are those who:

  1. See a clear alignment between their purpose/mission and the purpose of the donation being requested.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Shape your case for giving with insightful research.
  2. Receive a tight proposal with project goals, budgets, timelines, and expected outcomes.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Bundle these into your pitch.
  3. Perceive that the college will be open to transparency, accountability and progress reports.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Address these in your pitch.
  4. Bring other funding partners to the table.

    Recommended Action for Colleges: Proactively identify and cultivate affinity partners.

Learn more about Elliance philanthropic marketing services.

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