Online Fundraising: What You Need to Know to Engage Alumni

Online Fundraising: What You Need to Know to Engage Alumni




September 22, 2017

Last modified: 

Online fundraising can be a deceptively tricky subject. While the term simply refers to the process of raising money online, making the most of this strategy requires a dynamic approach on the part of your school.

When it comes to engaging with alumni, in particular, it’s doubly important to have a robust online fundraising strategy in place.

For this reason, your team should take a look at how you fundraiser online right now and decide whether or not you’re getting all you can out of this strategy.In this article, we’ll help you begin this process by discussing:

1. How your alumni engagement strategy can benefit from online fundraising

2. Online fundraising trends you should be using

3. Ways to boost alumni giving through online fundraising

4. Fundraising software tools that can improve your alumni engagement.

Ready to master online fundraising and improve your alumni engagement tactics? Let’s dive in!

Alumni engagement strategy

Making the most of your online fundraising capabilities should be your first priority when perfecting how you engage with alumni!

As a school, your institution's fundraising needs and limitations likely look very different from other nonprofit organizations. For one thing, your core donor base (your alumni) are often spread far and wide across the country.

This means that to connect with alumni supporters, you’ll have to go the extra mile to meet them where they are.

The best way to do this? By fundraising online, your team can easily reach geographically-diverse alumni. This starts with accepting donations online, but also allows your school to regularly interact with your supporters via email, social media and more!

When your school makes the effort to interact with supporters online, you avoid the trap of remaining “out of sight and out of mind” to these individuals.

Through frequent online interaction, alumni are more likely to donate on a regular basis, as well as more likely to encourage their friends and family to give to your institution.

In addition to strengthening ties between your school and your alumni, online fundraising has several other key benefits:

1. Low overhead cost: After your initial investment in online fundraising software, online fundraising proves to more than make up for its upfront cost. Since everything is virtual, your team can allocate less personnel to manage your online fundraising efforts, as well as save money on physical marketing materials.

2. Simple setup: Once you pick the right software, your team can easily set up your online fundraising tools with little stress. Many services offer consultation during the implementation process, or you might lean on your fundraising consultant during this time for their expertise.

3. Increased donor knowledge: Another reason why online fundraising tools are so effective is because they can provide unmatched insight into your supporters. With every interaction your school has with alumni online, you will collect important data that can inform your engagement tactics moving forward.

The bottom line: By investing time and energy into perfecting your school’s online fundraising strategy, you’ll have an easier time reaching alumni donors while saving money and effort. Even better, when you do connect with these donors, your interactions will be more streamlined and more informative than traditional methods allow.

fundraising trends

With the right strategy, your school can benefit from powerful new trends in online fundraising that simply can’t be matched by traditional fundraising methods.

In this section, we’ll highlight tactics that make the most of online fundraising’s dynamic potential by going further than simply accepting donations.

First, we’ll go over social fundraising techniques like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns, and then we’ll show you how online fundraising can be paired with on-site events to help your school make the donation more accessible to your alumni supporters.

Social fundraising

1. Crowdfunding. With the right crowdfunding software, your school can grow your donor base while raising money. Look for tools that allow you to easily brand donation pages, share campaigns across social media and email, and ones with team crowdfunding capabilities.

2. Peer-to-peer: Tapping into your alumni’s social network, donors can help your school reach more eyes online. By associating campaigns with your alumni fundraisers, potential supporters are more inclined to give since they’ll more closely associate your school with their friend, family member, or colleague.

Fundraising events

1. Kiosks and card swipers: By investing in an on-site donation kiosk or card swiper, your team can accept donations from those who prefer to pay with a credit or debit card. Gifts are then transferred online to your bank account, so you never have to worry about depositing checks or keeping track of cash donations. You might use a kiosk or card swiper at events like walkathons, talent shows, charity auctions etc.

2. Live event streaming: Another dynamic way to raise money for your cause is to stream fundraising events online. Alumni who can’t make it will be able to participate in the festivities from their computer or mobile device, and because of your online donation tools, giving will be as easy as the click of a button.

The bottom line: As part of your fundraising strategy, your school shouldn’t discount tactics that marry the best parts of in-person fundraising methods with the functionality and ease-of-use that online fundraising provides.

online fundraising

Looking to optimize your online giving channels to boost alumni donations?

What’s so unique about online fundraising is that your team can truly customize the giving experience to make donation as seamless as possible for your alumni donors.

Check out some of these online fundraising best practices to maximize your alumni’s donor potential:

1. Offer simple donation forms: You don’t want to lose out on potential alumni gifts because your online donation form was too lengthy, confusing, or required too much effort to complete. Be sure to make your online donation forms as streamlined as possible and don’t require givers to register for an account to make a donation.

2. Encourage recurring giving: The quickest way to make sure you’re able to get the most out of your fundraising efforts? Prompt alumni to opt-into recurring giving when they make a donation. Give them the freedom to set the gift amount and the donation schedule so that they’re able to tailor the process to their preferences.

3. Match alumni gifts: With the right software, your school can increase your fundraising potential by receiving matched gifts from alumni who work for corporations that have a matching gift program in place. One convenient way to do this is to direct alumni to a matching gift database tool on your school’s website or to implement an automated matching gift software to streamline the process for your school’s team.

The bottom line: Offering online donation channels to your alumni donors will boost giving, but only if your school is able to make the most of these dynamic giving tools.

Fundraising software

One of the most important parts of perfecting your school’s online fundraising strategy is picking the right online fundraising software to help you get the job done.

With all the options out there, it can be tricky to know what software to invest in and what kind of functionality you’ll need to stay on top of your online fundraising game.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of all the tools you need to look out for when picking your software!

Donation pages

Donation pages are the bread and butter of your online fundraising efforts. To make sure you reach the maximum number of alumni donors, your team should be sure to invest in online fundraising software that provides you with dynamic tools to customize your pages.

Invest in a software solution that allows you to:

1. Brand pages to your school with colors, logos, pictures, video, etc.

2. Integrate donation pages with social media to make them easily shareable

3. Customize donation pages with suggested giving amounts, recurring giving opt-ins, and more.


Having a successful communications strategy in place is the first step to boosting your alumni fundraising online. If your team isn’t able to get the word out to your supporters, your online fundraising efforts will falter.

When choosing which online fundraising software to invest in, keep an eye out for a solution that enables :

1. Automated constituent email that can be customized to your different alumni donor segments

2. Engagement tracking and analytics to help you learn all you can about what strategies work for your supporters

3. Social share buttons that enable your donors to easily broadcast to their social networks once they give

Mobile giving

The vast majority of your alumni use their mobile devices as their primary way to access the internet. Don’t miss out on all of these potential alumni donors!

As part of your online fundraising strategy, your school should be sure to have functional mobile giving tools in place. These can include:

1. Donation pages that are optimized for mobile devices

2. Embedded donation pages across your various social media platforms

3. Text giving tools that allow donors to give simply by sending you a customizable keyword.

The bottom line: When choosing online fundraising software, your team should select a platform that offers dynamic tools to meet your alumni engagement needs at every level.

When it comes to alumni engagement, having a next-level online fundraising strategy in place is crucial With these tips in mind, there’s nothing stopping your school from making connections with alumni and raising more than ever before!

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