Close to a quarter of a century ago I began my career in fundraising as the donor report writer for scholarships at an East Coast university. My job was to report to donors on the expenditure of their scholarship gifts to the university and to send them thank-you letters from students who had received the awards. This work involved two components: first, making sure that the student-aid funds donated to the university were used as described in gift agreements; and second, to gather letters of thanks from students.
The globalization of independent schools is one of the most profound shifts in our industry over the past 20 years. Boarding schools, of course, have long been in the business of recruiting students from abroad, but they have a seen a substantial rise in the number of international students. And day schools too have seen a rise in the number of home-stay families from abroad, as well as partnerships and affiliations. All schools, regardless of type, are seeing more of their alumni moving abroad for career opportunities, and more opportunities for establishing networks, par
In a robust alumni relations environment, students and graduates alike view the college as an ongoing resource – a continuum of positive influence intellectually, professionally and socially. In turn, students and alumni have an enduring effect on the college. Not just in their growing capacity for philanthropic support but in the manner in which they represent the college’s brand to the world.
The bottom line is that alumni relations matters – a lot.
In stewardship and donor relations we sometimes work against our own best interests. We are talented communicators, information managers, project overseers, events planners and implementers and just plain experts at getting things done. Our enthusiasm and dexterity are a source of pride…and often exploitation.
There is much good and encouraging news in the latest Coutts report. Whilst the headline growth in £1m+ donations, from £1.35bn in 2012 to £1.36bn in 2013, is far from exceptional, it perhaps masks what may prove to be long-term positive trends and messages.
There is a website that is totally dedicated to the visual depiction of just flat out getting it wrong. It’s called You Had One Job (hadonejob.com). On it you’ll find images of everything from tomatoes for sale in a container clearly labeled carrots, to signs that would even cause my 6-year-old to scratch her head.
Who thinks about stewardship and donor relations at the height of summer when the living should be easy? Even though I am preoccupied with thoughts of a few days on the water or a picnic in the back yard, and distracted by flowers in the garden and warm breezes, my mind has wandered back to work (kind of) and I’m thinking about stewardship and donor relations in a paraphrase of an old joke.
On the first day of work, the new gift officer asks the administrative assistant where to find stewardship. What’s the answer?
Spend a few minutes with Virginia Gray, the Director of Annual Giving at Golden Gate University (GGU), and you’ll have the answer: No. In fact, data of all varieties and magnitudes can be used to make strategic decisions that dramatically improve performance.
You could hear conservationists everywhere let out a collective cheer when news outlets announced Howard G. Buffett’s gift of nearly $24 million to South Africa National Parks for a 30-month initiative to deter rhino poaching in Kruger National Park.
This is the second in a series of blog posts answering questions from Marts & Lundy’s January 23, 2014 webinar Annual Giving in 2014: Trends on the Horizon. You can view the entire webinar here.
Do you know your constituents as well as you should?