December 02, 2007

Put Capital Campaign Videos Online

The University of Rio Grande has put Capital Campaign videos online for their alumni to view.  At the moment, they're showcasing three separate videos - one to bring about nostalgia in the viewers, one to explain how much money they hope to raise and what the funds will be used for, and one with alumni talking about their college experiences and encouraging others to contribute.  This is a terrific method to take your Capital Campaigns online in the form of videos.

Think about how many more alumni you could reach in this fashion.  And don't forget the power that video offers.  With video, your alumni can "visit" their campus again, and this is a strong motivator for them to become involved.  Remind them of the days they spent on campus and you'll have alumni who will contribute, participate, and connect more.  When you combine the instant availability of the Internet with the power of video, you'll be able to connect and engage your alumni in your Capital Campaign quicker and easier.

It doesn't have to cost a fortune today to use video, either!  A simple $150 camera plus free online software and you are ready to raise millions!  And, once you have the camera and the software - you can create other videos for your alumni online community to help your alumni connect, participate, and contribute more frequently.   

Posted by Don Philabaum on December 2, 2007 at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (42) | Links to this Article

October 30, 2007

Honor Alumni and Increase Contributions!

You've heard me say it before - but I'm going to say it again.  Recognizing your alumni for their achievements on your alumni website isn't just nice; it is very, very smart!  Marshall University has developed an engaging front page of their campus website that could easily be used for alumni associations to recognize alumni achievements.  Take a look!

Marshall University's website front page shows HUGE images of smiling student faces scrolling across the screen.  Viewers have the ability to click on any one of the pictures, and when they do, a short story the person wants to tell pops up.  It's engaging, involving, and it focuses on the people of Marshall University.  It's a terrific method!

You can do the same on your alumni website!  After all, this is what your alumni association is all about: GREAT PEOPLE doing GREAT THINGS!  Capitalize on this, and you'll soon find plenty of alumni with stories to tell, and plenty of alumni who will come to the website regularly to check the focused alumni out and read their stories.  When you do this, not only will you be developing a way to make your alumni "stars," but you'll be showing all of your alumni that your association is fun.

Check out this concept by visiting Marshall University's website.  Then, begin thinking about how you could highlight and honor your alumni.  You could do one alum per week, two, three, or more!  This technique can be used in many different ways, and all would bring success.  You will increase alumni satisfaction, interest, and contributions! 

Let me know your ideas as you mull this over.  And, if you create something similar, post a link - I'd love to go check it out.  Making heroes of your alumni is a concept I am 100 percent behind - and you should be too!

Posted by Don Philabaum on October 30, 2007 at 07:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

August 27, 2007

Open Doors - Online Giving Donations Guide

Online giving is an important aspect of many charities.  While many charities will ask for donations, it's often difficult to ascertain where the funds are going to go.  Open Doors is a charity that supports Christians worldwide, and they've created an excellent virtual guide to help their donators decide where their contribution dollars are going to go to.

This is a terrific idea as it not only encourages online giving, but it allows the contributor to look through Open Doors' interactive guide and decide for themselves how their donation is going to be used.  Here are some examples:

1.  A $20 donation will give 5 bibles.  A $100 donation will give 25 bibles.  A $500 donation will give 125 bibles.

2.  $82 provides one prisoner care pack which provides prisoners with necessities such as toiletries, clothes, medicine, and food.

3.  $50 provides sewing and tailoring classes for one woman living in a Muslim country.

4.  $15 gives Sunday school curriculum to one church in China.  $150 gives Sunday school curriculum to ten churches in China.

The list of what Open Doors offers to their contributors is wide, and ranges from less than $100 to the thousands.  This allows anyone who feels led to donate the ability to do so within their budget and their beliefs.  By offering this interactive guide for donations, Open Doors is making it easier, more personal, and giving their donors a true sense of what their dollars are going to do.

Annual giving offices should take note of this method, and work on developing promotions and packages that are built around this concept.  By setting up packages of specific dollar amounts, and detailing where the money will go, alumni will not only feel more secure in giving, but they'll also be proud to watch the changes that occur because of their contribution.

One example would be a gift of $100 for ten years will provide a matching gift scholarship that will be worth $2,000 for students.  Be creative and let your alumni know where their dollars are going, and give them the choice of selecting which program is best suited to them.

Posted by Don Philabaum on August 27, 2007 at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

August 20, 2007

Simon School of Business - Virtual Store

Having a virtual store that sells merchandise with your school's logo on it is a great idea, and one that many colleges and universities around the world utilize.  One example of a terrific site is Simon School of Business's virtual web store.  They sell a variety of merchandise, with two different logos available, for students and alumni to choose from.  Everything from apparel, including hats, shorts, pants, shirts, and sweatshirts are for sale, along with specialty items, such as coffee cups, paper weights, umbrellas, clocks, and more.  By offering a wide selection to their alumni and students, the Simon School of Business is able to earn more money, as they have a little something for everyone's differing tastes.

There are methods that can generate even more dollars if used in combination with the virtual store, too!  For example, make it easier for your alumni to purchase memorabilia!  How?  Simple!  You can send them an email or eCard near their birthday, with a $10 coupon attached - good for any purchase from the virtual store.  Other ideas include sending an email near Thanksgiving urging your alumni to spend some money on themselves by purchasing their own Christmas gift from the store. 

Alumni LOVE to share their association with their college!  If you give them a reason to visit the store, they will likely find something that appeals to them, which they'll use with pride.  You could also hold contests in your online alumni community that the prize is a gift of their choice, up to a set dollar amount, from the virtual store.  Maybe reward contributors, volunteers, and other alumni that reach out to help in some way by giving them coupons for merchandise.  The ideas are endless!

This is a fantastic method for generating additional dollars.  With a little creativity, you can use your virtual store in conjunction with methods you're probably already using to snag alumni interest.  The rewards will be well worth it. 

Posted by Don Philabaum on August 20, 2007 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

August 17, 2007

Increase Revenue by Offering Banner Ads to your Alumni

Alumni associations continually strive to find ways to keep up quality services for less money.  This is getting harder and harder.  For years, student loan lenders have partnered with alumni associations to get their loan products promoted to students.  In return for this promotion, the student lenders would pay the alumni associations a fee.  Recently, this practice has come under fire from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has been leading a national investigation into the student loan industry.

One of the questions being asked is whether alumni groups are steering financially strained young alumni into certain loan consolidation programs without disclosing payments, benefits, and other information which may violate consumer protection laws.  The fear is that because alumni associations profit from recommending these loans, their advice to students and alumni may be unfairly biased, and not necessarily in the best interest of the borrower.

What I want to express is that there are many other ways to make the revenue an alumni association needs to deliver quality services.  One of these ways is by the use of banner advertising.  If you offer banner advertising your alumni, you can bring in the revenue that is being lost from the student loan programs.  How is this possible?  Simple!  Alumni own thousands of businesses, and if you give them the opportunity to promote their businesses and their accomplishments on your alumni web site, they'll likely jump at it.  For one, they'll be proud to list their businesses, and for two, the alumni association can earn the revenue that is necessary to continue supplying quality services. 

Consider charging $5,000 per year for the front page, and $1,000 for the inside pages.  A ten page web site would probably produce nearly $15,000!  Banner ads can be very profitable, and when that's combined with the recognition your alumni will receive - the benefits are two-fold.

Posted by Don Philabaum on August 17, 2007 at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

July 04, 2007

Dating 4.0 - Helping Students and Alumni to "Date Smarter?"

I saw this headline and had to smile, "Dating 4.0 Launches, Helps Students and Alumni to 'Date Smarter,' followed by, "Site Provides Dating News and Advice for Top College Audience."  So, after my chuckle, I decided to see what this was all about.  Dating 4.0 claims to be the first dating news and advice Web site created specifically for the top college audience.  The Web site allows students and alumni from elite universities to "date smarter" by providing original and engaging dating-related content.

Dating 4.0 founder, Marie Cannizzaro, says she came up with the idea while still a student at Stanford University.  As a student, she was frustrated with the dumbed-down dating sites that were existence because they didn't address the specific issues associated with the top college dating scene.

What made me laugh wasn't the idea of a dating Web site for a top college audience, but rather that I've been suggesting this idea to Alumni Associations for years.  I've often said that Alumni Associations should embrace the dating aspect of their alumni, and build it into their alumni online communities for two reasons:

1.  Statistics show that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and
2.  You'll have a better chance of getting more from a married alumni couple's estate.

Think of it this way.  If your alumni marry someone from another college, your annual giving and advancement offices will forever fight to get a share of their contributions.  After all, the married couple has their allegiance firmly divided between two alma maters.  However, by helping alumni "hook up" with other alumni, you have the opportunity to increase your number of alumni who are married to each other.  If I were running the advancement office, I'd make my staff "work" to increase the number of alumni who are married to each other.  One of the ways to do this is to offer a dating aspect to the alumni online community.

Posted by Don Philabaum on July 4, 2007 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

June 15, 2007

University of Mississippi - The Inn at Ole Miss Expansion Program

Our world lives in a digital, technological age.  This statement is, perhaps, at its truest with your alumni.  The Internet is used for everything from gathering information, to buying and selling products, to keeping in touch, to finding new and old loves, to paying bills, and almost anything else that a person may need or want.  When an alumni association uses the Internet properly, they can not only communicate effectively with their alumni, they can engage, entertain, inform, and connect.  They can also raise needed funds for their alma mater, events, and exciting new ventures.

The University of Mississippi has effectively used the Internet to show their alumni the "Inn at Ole Miss Expansion Program."  What is the Inn at Ole Miss?  Their Web site describes the Inn as, "The Inn at Ole Miss will be a perfect complement for any wedding taking place at the Paris-Yates Chapel with a new, luxurious ballroom for rehearsal dinners and receptions. Just next door to the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, renowned performances will be only a stone's throw away. A courtyard will be available for outdoor entertaining and tailgating. Forty new two-room suites and ten special suites will add a unique touch to The Inn at Ole Miss. These features combined with an ideal location in the heart of town make it the premier guest property in the Oxford area."

The Alumni Association and advancement office has created this Web site to show members of the alumni association an artist rendering of the future Inn.  They have also provided photos and background information on cost.  They have identified naming opportunities, as well as how alumni can make a gift toward this program.  This is an excellent way to use Internet technology to share information with alumni, and to keep them engaged in their alma mater.  To improve on this idea, the Web site could offer alumni online video testimonials of needs.  They could also allow alumni the opportunity to comment regarding their gifts and why they chose to give to the Ole Miss Inn Campaign.

When an Alumni Association uses the Internet to this level, the results will be nothing short of electrifying.

Posted by Don Philabaum on June 15, 2007 at 04:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | Links to this Article

February 28, 2007

The University of Mississippi - Call Center Webcam

Annual Giving Programs are an essential funding tool that all colleges and universities utilize.  Schools struggle with finding new ways to connect to alumni in order to receive higher, and more frequent, contributions.  The University of Mississippi is going that extra mile to get more out of their annual giving campaigns, and they're doing so in a fun and interesting way.  Many universities use currently enrolled students within their call centers to phone alumni in the hopes of receiving contributions. 

While there is nothing new in that, there is something unique that the University of Mississippi is incorporating within their call center.  Their Call Center Webcam allows alumni to see the student callers in action.  It's a great idea as it gives a personal touch to the annual giving process, plus, alumni will get a birds-eye-view of the happenings within the call center.  The webcam web page tells visitors that the best time to view the webcam is Monday thru Thursday, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Central Standard Time.  Plus, they even offer a link to an email address for those visitors having problems viewing the webcam, so the call center is more informed on the issues that require troubleshooting.

The call center itself has around forty student callers, all working to raise funds for the University of Mississippi, while maintaining full-course schedules.  By utilizing the webcam in this process, the University of Mississippi is reaching out to their alumni and pulling them back into the school in a very personal and connectable method.  This method will give alumni a feeling of nostalgia, which will lead to a more cohesive and successful Annual Giving program - and this leads to increased contributions.  The University of Mississippi is definitely going that extra step to achieve the goals they need!    

Posted by Don Philabaum on February 28, 2007 at 06:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

February 23, 2007

The University of Mississippi Foundation - Online Gift Giving

Annual giving is a critical component of all university and college alumni associations.  In order to make gift giving easier, the University of Mississippi Foundation has created an Online Giving Page for all alumni who wish to contribute funds to an Ole Miss School or Program.  By offering a method of contribution that can be made online, the University of Mississippi Foundation has created an easy and secure system for the alumni of the University of Mississippi.

However, the Online Giving Page goes a step further than simply creating a secure technique for alumni to contribute.  The form also requests specification on where the alumni would like the funds to go.  They can choose from The Ole Miss Fund, Schools, Initiatives, or Other.  Below the selection area is a place for gift-giving alumni to explain any special instruction in regards to their financial gift.  In this way, alumni will not only feel secure in contributing via the Internet, but also in the knowledge that their funds will go where they want them to go. 

The form also asks basic identifying questions and relates information about Matching Gifts, along with a link to the University of Mississippi Foundation's Employer Matching Gift Search Page.  This page will allow alumni to see if their employer doubles or triples their gift to Ole Miss, which is a vital area of additional funds to be aware of.  Alumni who are employed by companies that match contributions will be pleased to have this easy search function, and in the end, everyone benefits from it!

The University of Mississippi Foundation's Online Gift Giving Page will encourage additional contributions from alumni because of the ease of use, the security, and the ability for alumni to choose where their gift goes.  This will increase the overall use of the online community and the total amount of contributions made annually. 

Posted by Don Philabaum on February 23, 2007 at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

February 09, 2007

McPherson College - Project Connect

The annual giving office at McPherson College is using Internet technology to show who their student callers are during this year's Project Connect - Phonathon '07.  Alumni contributions are critical to any university or college, and by enabling this project each year, McPherson College is reaching out to their alumni in a personalized and one-on-one method.  Last year, this project reached over 2,300 alumni households by phone - and each call was made by a current student at McPherson College.  With students making the phone calls, alumni are easily reminded of the years they spent at McPherson.   

In addition, the web page displays a picture and a short biography of each student that is making the phone calls.  All you have to do is click on one of the rolling photos on the page to bring up personalized information about that particular student.  The bio includes general information, such as; the year the student is in their studies, what their major is, how long they've been associated with Project Connect.  Along with the general facts, the biographies share what the student's best McPherson College memory is, who their favorite professor is, what their dream job is, as well as bits on favorite TV shows, and what question they'd most like to ask the alumni.  The pictures, and the data, allow alumni to get to know their student caller beyond just a name.  They are able to put a face with the voice, and this creates an almost instant connection.

The Project Connect web page displays current tallies on how many alumni households have been contacted, how many pledges and dollars have been secured, as well as how many student referrals have been made.  Each of these amounts is shown along with the goals for 2007, so anyone can see how the project is doing and how much more needs to be done.  By utilizing this method, McPherson College is aimed for success - not only at reaching their goals, but in connecting students to alumni, which will create a fuller and richer school community. 

Posted by Don Philabaum on February 9, 2007 at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article