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Changing Demographics Impact on Alumni Engagement & Fundraising

Changing Demographics Impact on Alumni Engagement & Fundraising

At the Global Leaders Summit held at Oxford University in November, I had the privilege of hearing a keynote speech from Elizabeth Crabtree, Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Resource Development, Brown University on the topic of alumni fundraising.

Elizabeth gave a fascinating presentation entitled ”Understanding Changing Demographics – Data Analysis Strategies For Engaging New Generations Of Alumni”.

Elizabeth began by identifying the demographic trends of alumni becoming older and more racially and ethnically diverse.  She also highlighted the significant generational differences in culture and lifestyles, which combined, will dramatically impact alumni communication and program strategies and alumni engagement generally.  Elizabeth helped identify ‘who our constituents are, and who they are going to become’ and to begin to question our level of preparedness to deal with these trends and ultimately take advantage of them for both alumni fundraising and alumni engagement.

To see the full recording of her presentation, please watch below.



For those interested, please reach out to me if you would like to obtain a private copy of Elizabeth’s presentation slides.

Elizabeth also shared findings from a recent Brown University study into what it takes to cultivate ‘a Million Dollar Donor’ through alumni fundraising.  Most revealing was the statistic that 91% of million dollar donors had been active volunteers prior to their giving.  Or perhaps the even more powerful inverse statistic – only 9% of major gift donors had not volunteered previously.

Moreover Elizabeth proved the importance of making a first gift, irrespective of size, in the first decade after graduation.  This along with volunteering were the most important predictors of which alumni would become the million dollar donors of the future.

The challenge seems clear. We need to re-think alumni engagement and how we successfully create volunteering and mentoring opportunities for these new diverse generations of alumni or pay the price decades from now.

I would welcome your thoughts.

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