This week’s blog explores a slightly different perspective in the fundraising world: the college campus. While students may not be your #1 donors today, they will be your future donors. A look at their approach and the problems of college fundraising also provide insights that translate into the nonprofit, faith-based, and political fundraising worlds.
Today, we’ll talk about how colleges and universities can raise money through:
Not only will be give you some of the common reasons that stop potential supporters from giving, but we’ll also provide ways you can increase your student and alumni fundraising efforts. Let’s get started!
There are so many different clubs and organizations at every college across the country and each year, campuses buzz with fundraising efforts to raise money for different causes. This includes everything from blood drives, sports, service trips, and various off-campus causes such as, an after school program focused on tutoring elementary school students.
Fundraising plays a pivotal role, as the majority of the activities students participate in are only possible through the money they are able to raise themselves.
Whether it be a bake sale, musical concert, walk-a-thon, raffle, or charity ball, students get creative in offering a fun and appealing way to get their peers involved socially on campus, while also raising money for a good cause.
The cause—whatever it may be—is always a good one, and most students are willing to support each other (especially when doing so involves an incentive to attend a fun activity with friends at a reasonable cost). However, there are 3 main factors that often stand in a person’s way of giving (in this example, we look at the factors that apply to students’ lives, but the principles can be universally applied to adult donors everywhere, young and old!):
When it comes to transactions in college, students rely on credit and debit cards. When they need to pay a friend back, they transfer the money electronically using apps like Venmo or Google Wallet. With the emergence of such technologies, why would they need cash? And I haven’t seen many hi-tech bake sales willing to accept cards anywhere.
Student fundraising itself might be a difficult area to directly implement the use of technology, but the principles behind the need for it are the same as they would be for a nonprofit. And not to mention, they give us a great source of creative inspiration, but also great insight into common problems in reaching any donor, not just students.
The students have spoken—technology is the solution!
Whether people like it or not, technological innovation is inevitable in the fundraising world. It provides a solution to the 3 factors that stand in the way of giving:
Technology provides instant access, and it’s all about convenience. And I know we can all agree that college students aren’t the only ones who enjoy convenience.
Students aren’t the only demographic that can help your university raise money. Your recent (or not-so-recent) alumni are the perfect group to target for fundraising asks.
Here are a few ways you can ask for donations from your college or university’s alumni.
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money from your alumni. Since this type of fundraiser is powered by social sharing, alumni can pass along your campaign to their friends and family and spread the word.
Moreover, setting up a crowdfunding page is relatively inexpensive so your college or university can create multiple campaigns for different projects.
The key to creating a viral crowdfunding campaign is to upload images and videos on your page, write a detailed crowdfunding description, and post updates frequently. As an added incentive to encourage donations, you can provide different perks depending on how much supporters contribute.
T-shirts are one of the easiest ways to raise money from your alumni. Many graduates want to display their school pride in an easy (and comfortable!) way.
T-shirts are the perfect fundraising solution. You can sell them in your school’s online store, or create custom shirts for alumni events and reunions.
Additionally, if you host a peer-to-peer fundraising event, your alumni can buy t-shirts to show their support.
Engraved bricks are a great way for alumni to leave their mark (literally!) on your college.
For a fee, alumni can choose to have a line or two engraved on a brick that is placed either in a walkway, on a set of stairs, or in the wall of a prominent building on campus.
You can have different price ranges for different numbers of lines ($50 for 1 line, $80 for 2, or $100 for 3).
There are several engraved brick companies that make the whole process easy as pie. Advertise engraved bricks to your recently graduated alumni and mention them at reunions for other classes.
Whether your alumni identify as Mountain Lions, Eagles, or Bulldogs, you can sell mini stuffed mascots to remind them of their time at your college.
All you have to do is find a wholesale stuffed animal company, preferably one that allows you to customize orders.
Then, simply advertise your mini school mascots online and at events. Alumni young and old will be more than willing to spend a few dollars on a cute and cuddly mini mascot!
As you can see there are plenty of ways you can raise money from alumni. At the end of the day, your alumni are where colleges and universities will collect the majority of their donations. Much like how other nonprofits will gain the most fund from major donors. Therefore, it’s important to create fundraisers that tailor to these specific donors and appeal to their interests.
Alumni fundraising really isn’t any different from college student fundraising. Just remember to thank your alumni for their continued love and support of your university!