Optimizing Alumni Communication During EOY Giving Season
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for alumni communication!
Double the Donation reports that over 30% of total annual giving takes place in December, with around 10% of all donations coming in the last three days of the year. That said, it’s an excellent opportunity for educational institutions to engage with their alumni, highlighting last-minute fundraising initiatives and wrapping up other loose ends.
If you’re looking to finetune your communication strategy this year-end giving season, particularly regarding alumni supporters, here are five key practices that your team can consider:
- Highlight opportunities for support.
- Communicate gratitude.
- Share year-end updates.
- Promote workplace giving opportunities.
- Look forward to the new year.
Optimizing your communication strategy going into the last few weeks of the year makes a huge difference in terms of overall engagement and support. By incorporating these tried-and-true tips, you can set your team up for impactful conversations that position your organization for a successful new year as well.
1. Highlight opportunities for support.
Because the end of the year is such a significant period in terms of fundraising efforts, you likely have a lot going on. It’s important that you use your alumni communications to promote ways in which your supporters can get involved.
This may include:
- Contributing to your year-end giving campaign;
- Requesting a matching gift for a previous donation;
- Participating in a peer-to-peer fundraising initiative (as a fundraiser or a donor);
- Volunteering in various ways within the school;
- Attending a fundraising event such as a walk-a-thon, auction, or gala;
- Joining an alumni association.
Regardless of the engagement opportunities hosted by your institution, be sure your audience is aware of the various ways to support your efforts—especially when you know they’ll love the fundraisers you choose. Otherwise, you may have a sizable group of alumni who are eager to participate in the season of generosity; they’re simply unaware of how to do so.
2. Communicate gratitude.
You don’t want to move on to a new year without thanking those that played a role in getting your institution where it is now. And in the spirit of the holiday season, there’s no better opportunity to show appreciation for your alumni—especially those who have supported your fundraising and engagement efforts this year.
Ways to do so might include:
- Mailing a handwritten letter thanking individuals for their support;
- Crafting a personalized acknowledgment email highlighting specific engagement details;
- Making a phone call to thank donors for their involvement;
- Sending customized swag or school merchandise;
- Publicly acknowledging key supporters online using social media, digital newsletters, or your website;
- Highlighting specific individuals within your donor or alumni wall;
- Inviting alumni to attend exclusive stewardship events.
When displaying gratitude to your alumni and other major contributors, make an effort to do so using the methods they tend to respond to best; that way, your communications will be all the more meaningful.
3. Share year-end updates.
More than likely, a lot has happened within your school community in the past twelve months. As you’re looking to communicate with alumni in the final weeks, providing year-end updates can be a great way to go.
Consider these ideas as you craft your messaging regarding updates from the previous year:
- Total amount of fundraising revenue collected;
- Percentage of alumni engaged with the institution;
- Number of students graduating;
- Highlights from noteworthy alumni;
- Progress or completed campus updates or renovation projects;
- Awards, accolades, and rankings presented to the school.
Your alumni care about the goings-on at your school, and keeping them in the know about current happenings is essential. By providing key updates surrounding your institution, you can help maintain that vital feeling of connection, regardless of the length of time an alumnus has been gone.
4. Promote workplace giving opportunities.
Your alumni have gone on from your institution to work for a wide range of businesses. More than likely, a significant portion of that group is now employed by companies that offer workplace giving programs. And those giving programs have the potential to benefit your school.
If you’re not already doing so, now is the time to begin promoting these corporate fundraising opportunities. And if you are already doing so, the end of the year is the perfect time to increase your efforts.
Why? Corporate matching gifts are one of the most popular and most-offered forms of workplace giving. When donors qualify for the programs, they are able to request a matching donation from their employers, often at a dollar-for-dollar ratio for their own. This allows supporters to amplify their own giving impact without reaching back into their own wallets.
And luckily, many individuals who have given to your school previously in the year will still qualify for corporate matching, despite not being aware of the opportunity or completing the matching process earlier. Similarly, alumni who have engaged with your institution as volunteers in the past year may qualify for corporate volunteer grants as well.
As you follow up on these opportunities, keep in mind that you may want to include a sense of urgency in your year-end workplace giving reminders, as many companies set their submission deadlines in line with the end of the calendar year! But don’t fret—matching gift software, such as Almabase’s integration with Double the Donation, makes triggering automated follow-ups as easy as can be.
5. Look forward to the new year.
While looking back at the past can be an excellent way to acknowledge support and wrap up the previous year, looking ahead to the new year can aid in inspiring alumni with ideas of what is to come.
Here are a few examples to show how your team can look forward to the new year by:
- Comparing objectives and successes — “In 2022, our school raised over $100,000. In 2023, we’re setting a lofty goal to double that figure. Keep an eye out to see how you can help us reach $200,000 in giving revenue next year!”
- Reminding of upcoming events — “With the end of the year coming to a close, don’t forget about our upcoming engagement events that will be here before you know it! Mark your calendars for Alumni Reunion Weekend, February 10th - 12th.”
- Providing updates for ongoing projects — “We can’t wait to see where our school will be at this time next year. For one thing, our library renovation will be complete, empowering more students with access to innovative new resources.”
This type of messaging can even spill over into the new year as you continue encouraging your audience of alumni to get and stay involved.
As the end of the year comes to a close, it’s important that you and your team make the most of every opportunity available to you—whether that’s following up on previously-made donations or highlighting chances to further support your institution. Your alumni support your cause, and keeping them involved throughout the year is essential. Good luck, and happy holidays!
About the author
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
Blackbaud, the leading provider of software for powering social impact, and Almabase, the digital-first alumni engagement solution, have announced the expansion of their partnership to the education sectors of Canada and the United Kingdom. The partnership will provide institutions with a modern, digital-first solution to improve constituent data, drive self-serve engagement, and boost event participation.
A Unified Vision
The partnership aligns with Blackbaud’s commitment to customer-centric innovation across digital engagement, Advancement CRM, and financials.
“Partners bring integrated capabilities that extend capabilities and outcomes for Blackbaud customers. We are thrilled that Almabase’s offering, integrated with Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® and leveraging Blackbaud’s best-in-class payment solution, Blackbaud Merchant Services™, is now available to even more of our customers around the world.”
- Liz Price, Sr. Director of Global Partners at Blackbaud