How many times a week are you asked to donate to something? Whether it’s someone you know participating in a race, fundraising for a cause like Mustaches for Kids, or an alumni association asking for help with a capital campaign… I’m sure you run into thisĀ  scenarios as much as I do, where multiple groups are competing for the same marketplace of donors.

We work with alumni associations who are wondering how to manage this exact situation. Well, the concepts of crowd funding and micro-donations are only getting bigger, and different groups are targeting the same market alumni associations have held for years. Most pressingly, they’re offering more emotional engagement with their causes than the associations have been. It’s time to change that around.

To start, think about the future funder: the person who is on campus now and will be an alumni eventually. Before they leave campus, how can you engage them and show them the value an alumni association can bring? First of all, you have to consider that the value of the association is the network of people involved in it, not the association itself. Don’t let 10 or 15 years go by before alumni see the value in contributing and becoming an active part of that network. Start building that relationship before they even leave campus.

How? Build a Kickstarter-like platform for campus. Students can start a project and receive funding from the alumni association, but also use the platform to campaign for donations from their networks, family and friends. This brings visibility to the different projects and creates an emotional reason for alumni to care about what’s going on around campus. Platforms like this allow alumni greater visibility into the people who are up and coming on campus, and who are doing great things for the school’s overall brand. What matters here isn’t the size of the project, it’s the alumni’s ability to make a difference by supporting the projects that matter to them, which helps to create an extended relationship with alumni and students alike.

The opportunity is here for us to use digital tools to engage students with the alumni association while they’re still on campus, and continue that engagement as soon as they graduate. I’d love to hear how you’re using digital as part of your alumni association’s strategy. Leave a comment or get in touch and let’s start a conversation.

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