At BoostMySchool, we’ve talked with over a hundred U.S. public and private high schools about their alumni fundraising. Below are three common tips that have helped schools increase first-time alumni donors and alumni participation rates.
When going through school, students are unaware of how donations support day-to-day activities. By providing specific examples and associated costs (e.g. robotics competition registration fee - $5,000), alumni learn where their money will go, and why donations are needed for the school to prosper.
Causes that alumni enjoy supporting include need-based scholarships, buying new equipment/software, competition expenses, teacher support, etc. The more examples you list, the better! If an alum sees that they benefitted from a cause supported by donations, they are much more likely to donate.
Every donor has their own preference on how they want to give. Older generation of donors traditionally give via check or in person, whereas younger generation of donors prefer the convenience of giving online.
Keep every donation channel open! Make sure to have a mailing address where donors can mail checks to. Have a donation booth at in-person events like sports games or concerts. Sign up for a website that takes online donations BoostMySchool or Paypal.
Non-profits dislike the processing fee charged by online donation services, and at times discourage donors to give online because of the fee. However, it’s important to remember that younger donors value the convenience of technology, and some only give online. A $100 donation with a processing fee is certainly better than no donation at all.
A major challenge for schools is they don’t have the most up-to-date contact information for their alumni. If you can’t reach someone, there is a very low chance they will donate!
One way to collect email addresses is through an alumni newsletter. It only needs to be sent out a few times a year, and can contain news regarding the school and alumni. It is much easier to get alumni to sign up for a newsletter than it is to get them to donate.
To convert newsletter subscribers into donors, make sure to include a prominent donate button at the top of every email. In addition, don’t be afraid to send one or two emails a year solely regarding fundraising. Alumni are supportive of fundraising emails, as long as they are not a majority of the emails sent from the newsletter.
Happy fundraising! Want more tips? Email [email protected] to schedule a free 15 minute fundraising consulting appointment.
Holman is the founder and CEO of BoostMySchool. He actively helps his former high school with their fundraising and alumni outreach, which is how the idea for BoostMySchool came about. He is a strong believer in the power of education to change the world and volunteers with programs that support underrepresented students in math and science.