It sometimes feels that schools may over-complicate their alumni relations and miss the basics on how to build a culture of alumni giving.
I think you are going to find this eye-opening.
I recently had the privilege of hearing at the Global Leaders Summit, Robert Caldwell, Assistant Head of School, Institutional Advancement at the Holderness School. Robert provided a masterful answer to the question of how best to build a culture of alumni giving.
Robert is an incredibly talented and yet humble person so will hate my placing him in the spot-light. However I believe there is a significant greater good by sharing Robert’s insights with education institutions across the world.
Robert mentioned three things he does which I believe could resonate with every school and make a big difference in building your culture of alumni giving.
- Tuition Bills – tuition bills from Holderness School show first the full cost of the education, then deductions from various philanthropic sources including endowments and named scholarships, and only then the amount being asked for. This transparent approach makes it clear to the parent that financial giving is something not to be embarrassed about, but a critical part of the business model to provide affordable education. It starts to lay the cultural foundations for future giving.
- Involving Students – every donor from Holderness School gets a handwritten note from an existing student, irrespective of the size of the donation. The students states in the note unscripted what they love about Holderness and then include the sentence, ‘I recognize because of you, this is possible for me.’
- Every Gift Matters But Need To Focus – Holderness on the one hand recognizes and celebrate every gift made whether $1 or $1 million. On the other hand it knows that 4% of its donors are probably responsible in absolute terms for 96% of its giving so ensures that campaigns for big amounts are targeted only at big donors. No one wants to be asked for something they are physically unable to give.
Please watch Robert in his own words below particular at around 1 hour 2 minutes into the session.
What do you think of these three insights?
What in your own experience is required to build a culture of alumni giving?
I would welcome your thoughts.