Demistifying the Power of Social Media in Higher Ed Fundraising

The question of whether social media can have a real ROI in higher education fundraising has been answered with a resounding YES.  Columbia University was one of the front-runners that illustrated there are great rewards associated with developing a thoughtful, digitally driven campaign leading up to an online giving day. This past October, they succeeded once again, raising more than $11 million dollars! Many other institutions, of all different sizes and resources have followed suit. Just last week, Washington University successfully crushed their goal, thanks to a well-executed social media strategy with the help of Bentley Whaley Flessner.

Photo credit: Bentz Whaley Flessner

Photo credit: Bentz Whaley Flessner

One of the roadblocks that institutions often run into, is the concern that involving major donors in giving days could interfere the solicitation process. In a recent article on the topic, Justin Ware of Bentley Whaley Flessner explains that asking for a major donor’s participation in an “online celebration of fundraising” should not be in conflict with the solicitation process. Instead, it should be part of the overall digital strategy that encompasses all fundraising and engagement efforts. An impressive 85% of all millionaires use social media, according to a 2011 Fidelity Investments study so your major gift donors should certainly be part of the conversation. You can click here to view some other interesting statistics regarding online giving.

Aside from the obvious benefit of online giving days, there are additional benefits, such as branding (hard to measure but very important) and engaging new donors (a metric that is very easy to measure).

Here are a few tips for involving major donors:

  1. At a minimum, let major donors know that the giving day is coming up.
  2. Mention challenge opportunities and ask if the donors would be interested in giving a large challenge gift.
  3. Develop a “large gift protocol” for big, unexpected gifts during the giving day.
  4. Don’t wait for the giving day to involve your biggest donors online.

For the full article, click visit The Social Side of Giving.

This entry was posted in Fundraising. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Demistifying the Power of Social Media in Higher Ed Fundraising

  1. sydhavely says:

    Great post, Erinn. Could you discuss briefly tonight?

  2. erinncarey says:

    Absolutely! See you tonight.

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