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No one knows the importance of engaging donors today in order to upgrade their giving in the future more than the young alumni development office at colleges and universities. Their main objective is to encourage recent college graduates to actively support their alma mater, with the hopes of one day moving them up the donor ladder to make more significant contributions. Unfortunately, that’s no easy task considering the fact that most young alumni are difficult to reach and even more difficult to engage.

3 Steps to Building Your Fundraising Strategy Around Your Donor’s Interest

Last week, we explained why learning your donors’ interests is one of the best ways to engage donors, upgrade their giving, and achieve your fundraising goals. Today, we wanted to share an example of how that idea can become a reality that makes a significant impact on your bottom line.

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to work alongside the young alumni association at South Carolina University to create a new campaign to engage recent graduates. Before launching the campaign, we realized how important it would be to learn more about this group of alumni.

Step 1: Ask and Listen

Through an electronic survey, we were able to find answers to questions like, “What do they want from their alma mater? How do they prefer to communicate?” We learned that this group of alumni highly favored networking and desired a stronger connection and louder voice with the administration.

Step 2: Act on What You Learn

After identifying what the young alumni cared about, we worked to create a campaign that directly connected with those interests. In 2008, we launched “The Faces of Y’all” campaign through a combination of traditional and communication methods.

Step 3: Evaluate and Adapt Your Strategy

As a result of the strategy, the USC Alumni Association saw a 36 percent increase in the funds raised by their young alumni association. As the campaign continued, we realized that it would be important to adapt the strategy as donor intelligence and innovation provided new opportunities.

 How to build your fundraising strategy around your donor’s interests

Most successful fundraising campaigns are based on a combination of intelligent segmentation and targeted messaging. In order to effectively motivate people to support your cause, you’re going to learn what motivates them to give and how they engage with your organization.

What are some of the ways you’ve adapted your fundraising strategy based on your donor’s interests? How has it paid off?