Annual/Regular Giving Programs: The College of New Jersey - Gold Medal

Category 2A: Fundraising Programs – Annual/Regular Giving Programs
The College of New Jersey – Target 10000

Contact: Diana Lygas, director of leadership and annual giving, Development and Alumni Affairs, 2000 Pennington Rd., Ewing, NJ 08628, Phone: (609) 771-2185, e-mail:

Mission Statement: The College of New Jersey, founded in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, is primarily an undergraduate and residential college with targeted graduate programs. TCNJ’s exceptional students, teacher-scholars, staff, alumni, and board members constitute a diverse community of learners, dedicated to free inquiry and open exchange, to excellence in teaching, creativity, scholarship, citizenship, and to the transformative power of education in a highly competitive institution. The college prepares students to excel in their chosen fields and to create, preserve, and transmit knowledge, the arts, and wisdom. Proud of its public service mandate to educate leaders of New Jersey and the nation, the college will be a national exemplar in the education of those who seek to sustain and advance the communities in which they live.

How Target 10000 relates to the Mission statement of the College: TCNJ seeks to be an educational leader among its peers. One area that we have not historically excelled in is alumni participation. Our college began its 2007 fiscal year in June with an eight percent giving rate. Compared to other NJ state colleges, this rate is acceptable. Our mission is not to be acceptable, but exceptional. We embarked on an aggressive campaign to increase the number of alumni donations to the college from 4,400 to 10,000! Admittedly, this is a lofty goal and will no doubt take us longer than one fiscal year to complete. Yet we are hoping to increase our donations to at least 1000 gifts in the first year (this year) and build incrementally on each success.

Staff: The campaign towards 10,000 gifts began in development office and quickly grew to include members of our Web design team and also our college relations staff. There are four lead professional staff members who have devoted time and support to administer the program. We also have leaned upon the services of at least three additional staff members for their personal expertise in areas that required it. We also utilize student workers to aid in expediency and save costs. Finally, we utilized student and alumni volunteers throughout the year to help at events, peer solicitation, and marketing.

Program Description and Impact: The State of New Jersey cut funding to higher education drastically for FY07. As director of annual giving, I considered myself fortunate to receive a budget that was FLAT. Our task now - - increase gifts without increasing spending!

To get there, we needed to think outside the box. We started with the cheapest form of communication available today…e-mail. We designed an interacted Web site that would serve as the center for all alumni communication throughout the year. Alumni could not only donate through the site but also learn about events, see the others who have given, and send friends virtual postcards.

TTT became synonymous with all our Annual Giving appeals and alumni events throughout the year. We promoted the initiative in all existing materials including the college magazine, alumni written and online newsletters, at events, and through personal communications.

We left no opportunity to market the program (for free) unutilized including simple taglines on every staff person’s e-mails to direct those receiving the e-mail to the Target 10,000 site. We revamped our donor envelope to reflect the theme of the Web site. And we tried something new. When we were at alumni events which have historically been places where we do not ask for gifts, we gave out “Give now” envelopes. We asked alumni to “start” their gift at the event with a modest donation of whatever they had on them. And then we asked them to take the second envelope home with them so they could look at what they could really afford to give. What a success!

The impact of TTT has been significant. Alumni are asking and calling to see how they can be a part of the goal. They leave notes on their checks wishing us success to 10,000! And they are giving!

Overall Program Goals and Objectives:

Goal: Increase alumni participation in the annual fund by at least 1000 gifts in the first year and to 10000 gifts within three years.
Objective: Provide alumni with new and creative ways to learn about the Annual Fund.

  • Create an interactive donor map where alumni can find their own name and the maps of their classmates.
  • Make the TTT site interactive and clickable to make the site engaging and interesting.
  • Allow the alumni to engage in viral marketing to each other by offering personalized e-postcards.

Goal: Increase online donations by at least 10 percent.
Objective: Increase traffic to our Web site and provide alumni with the opportunity to linger on the site long enough to make the choice to give online.

  • Place a prominent place newsbox graphic image on the TCNJ Homepage
  • Include a press release on the college’s homepage to increase awareness to the campus and outside community
  • Cross promote the Web site and overall initiative on the Online Alumni Community and throughout the development and alumni Web site.

Goal: Establish a peer to peer solicitation program.
Objective: Make a powerful statement that giving is good and expected through peers.

  • Hold small networking receptions at alumni homes
  • Utilize alumni volunteers in all facets of development and alumni affairs events
  • Employ the class agents to solicit fellow classmates for support of the Annual Fund

Target Audience: TCNJ has 63,000 alumni in our database. Approximately 5,600 of them are inactive or un-addressable. Over 19,000 have an e-mail address. Each addressable alumnus/a who has not donated this current fiscal year will receive at least two solicitation appeals this year and every alum with an e-mail will have been e-mailed a solicitation at least twice.

Program Budget: The total budget for graphics design, mail, and printing for our annual fund is $83,000 (excluding postage). Although all these funds have not been spent on the projects addressed in this abstract, every alumni gift places us one step closer to our goal of 10,000.

How we met the goals of the category:

Demonstrate creativity and innovation in thought and execution: TTT has been an exciting challenge to engage alumni through non traditional methods. We added four flash appeals into our regular fundraising schedule. The first e-mail appeal that we counted results on was viewed by 507 people within the first two days after e-mailing it. One hundred sixty-three of them clicked to learn more about the Annual Fund.

Serve as models for other institutions and are replicable: Our hope is that other schools will continue to build dynamic interactive sites that their alumni can remain involved in and also involved with each other. By pushing ourselves to move beyond an 8 percent giving rate we hope to set the benchmark high for other small liberal arts colleges in the state.

Reflect strategic management of available resources: I believe this is where TTT really shines. We were able to build a successful campaign out of the resources we could pull together. By combining staff form several offices, students, and volunteers, we made the project work. Further by using the Web site as the center for all communication, alumni can move in and out of the site and feel the connection between giving and alumni affairs, which are sometimes viewed as opposing dichotomies.

Demonstrates integration with advancement goals in purpose and execution: The TTT Web site and initiatives are driving home the fact that alumni giving is good and necessary to keep this college competitive. We were able to incorporate TTT with all direct mail appeals, phonathon, events, and personal solicitations because it size of the gift did not matter to be counted among 10,000.

Documented Results: The fiscal year is still full of life and our participation numbers to date are up by 11 percent. With new additions to the TTT Web site and several planned direct mail initiatives we are quite hopeful to increase donors by 1,000 this year. The total number of online donations received in all of FY06 was 333. With four more months remaining in our current FY07, we have already earned 394 online gifts! Spending for the fiscal year has remained in budget and we are proud to meet our goals without exceeding our spending limits. Hits to the alumni Web site are up dramatically. Our first ever flash appeal was read by 507 alumni within two days and 163 of them clicked the link to learn more. The other appeals did not take place prior to December 31st, but their results were even better! “Give now” envelopes resulted in over 170 donations, most of which were first time donors. These donors will receive a follow up appeal to finish their gift this spring.

Although TTT is still very much in the midst of its campaign, we are pleased to submit it for a CASE award. Our hope is that you will see that we have utilized all facets of good fundraising including phonathon, mail, e-mail, ad person-person to create a fantastic program.