Liberal Arts Colleges: 5 Fundraising Tips To Boost Your Fiscal Year-End Giving Day

Liberal Arts Colleges: 5 Fundraising Tips To Boost Your Fiscal Year-End Giving Day




April 8, 2021

Last modified: 

April 8, 2021

More than a year after the pandemic had taken the world by storm, 2021 proves to be a challenging year ahead for liberal arts colleges across the country. The resulting disruption has caused advancement teams from institutions to rethink their programming and find unique ways to engage alumni and donors. With the end of the fiscal year already here, now is the right time for advancement teams to start thinking about ways to drive end-of-year gifts.

Giving day checklist

Without further ado, here are 5 of our curated Giving Day tips, which can help increase those donation numbers significantly as we near the end of the fiscal year.

1. Build up to the day

It's always a best practice to start promoting your Giving Day as early as possible and build-up to the day of the event. While inviting your alumni to campus is not exactly a viable option at the moment, social media is an excellent channel to engage with your community and build momentum. Countdown posts on social media are also a great way to spread the word.

Instead of merely creating posters or event notifications at intervals like, say, 15, 10, and 5 days before the , think of ways to incentivize donors to participate. For instance, along with every countdown post, you can also share testimonials of past donors on social media. Seeing a friend believe in your institution’s cause can be a strong motivator for more alumni to donate.

Alternatively, you can come up with a trendy social media campaign, which can help your event gain traction and virality on social media channels.

Marietta College
Learn more about how Marietta College used their unique social media campaign to gain momentum ahead of their Giving Day.

2. Connect With Your Donors at a Personal Level

A great way to engage with your donors is to invest in developing and nurturing a personal relationship with them. The end of the fiscal year is an ideal time for your institution to start building and growing an online community that your constituents can benefit from.

While an online community is great for driving engagement, not all potential donors will react the same way to your fundraising asks. For instance, an alum who's been working as an investment banker for 10 years might be more receptive to your fundraising ask than a young alum who's just graduated college and is still reeling under the pressure of repaying his student loan.

Personalizing your fundraising asks ahead of your Giving Day plays a crucial role in building a unique connection with each constituent and paving the way for lasting relationships. We loved how Archbishop Riordan High School's 2017 campaign encouraged alumni to contribute towards improving their school campus.

Use dynamic segmentation to segregate your constituents based on class year, location, donation history, interests, etc. and personalize your emails right from the first message to the final thank you.

How to personalize your email outreach to boost online giving

3. Host Virtual Events

While we are nearing the end of another fiscal year, we are nowhere near the end of the pandemic that has forced us to reinvent the wheel. The situation we find ourselves in isn't exactly conducive for hosting in-person events. However, virtual events are all the rage right now, and the right idea and execution might just make an ordinary event extraordinary.

Over the last year, we have seen many exemplary virtual events that were executed by various institutions, both big and small.

Host Virtual events
Learn more about how The University of Puget Sound pulled off a fully virtual 5K race for their Homecoming event.

Many institutions have seen a steady rise in participation at virtual events because they're easily accessible irrespective of location or time. Virtual events, therefore, can help you tap into a wider network of donors and be a valuable addition to your marketing plan during the end of the fiscal year.

Greenwich Academy's first virtual Alumnae Reunion in history

4. Make Every Channel Count

As online engagement becomes pivotal for a successful Giving Day campaign, it is equally important to make the best use of the channels at your disposal. Social media is the ideal place to meet and connect with new people, with platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook enabling you to explore potential donors. Calvert Hall College's picture slideshow on Facebook went viral which helped them boost their fundraising campaign.

While you may already be connected with some of your donors on shared groups, use the network of your existing supporters to influence new donors. In addition to social media, emails and personal one-on-one calls are popular channels employed by most institutions for fundraising asks.

In case you feel ghosted by your alumni, having the right strategy in place might help ensure that your ask never goes unacknowledged.

How Calvert Hall High School increased its Giving Day donations by twice as much in 3 years

5. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Crowdfunding

Now that you have done your bit to promote the campaign, how can you leverage your supporters to maximize the impact? Your donors are the ones who can carry your fundraising campaign forward by spreading the word through their networks.

You can find ways to make social sharing easy for donors and create more incentives for them to influence others in their network. For example, encourage your supporters to broadcast and share their contributions on social media. Offer them a customized template and prompt them to share this message on social media right after they've completed a gift.

You can also create a filter for Instagram or Facebook that donors can apply to their profile photos. Seeing their peers support their alma mater's cause can act as a strong driving factor for other constituents to contribute to the same cause. Here are other ways to build stronger online communities in today's times.

Gamification techniques like leaderboards, challenges, and tributes are additional great ways that help invoke a healthy sense of competition amongst various constituent groups and hence amplifying the impact of gifts during your Giving Day.

How Christian Brothers Academy leveraged peer-to-peer fundraising at its Giving Day amidst COVID-19

We understand how planning and executing a successful Giving Day can be a nightmare for people behind the scenes. We hope that this article gives you some inspiration for your fiscal year-end Giving Day in 2021.

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