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Development Communications

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Giving Reports & Donor Honor Rolls
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of giving reports and donor honor rolls for all members. Reports that were recognized with a CASE Circle of Excellence Award are noted, and abstracts and judges' reports are linked when available.

Office Space: Ghostwriting Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
CURRENTS Article Writing to key donors and prospects on behalf of institutional leaders is a high-stakes endeavor. Capturing the voice of the various university and development executives who sign the messages you write is challenging. It can be hard to find the right words or to strike the right tone, especially when apologies or condolences are part of the job. But you don't have to be a wordsmith to compose effective, strategic letters and emails. Here are some tips to help your writing.

Report: Donor Retention Becoming Top Priority
Article,  BriefCASE Article Nonprofit communications professionals looking for benchmarking information—or even ideas about how to initiate discussions about difficult communications topics with staff or leadership—can find answers in the 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report.

First-Person ‘Humanizes’ Institutions in Case Statements
Article,  BriefCASE Article Development writers should make use of “we” and “our” when referring to their institution in a case statement, says a communications expert.

Learn How to Write to Raise More Money, Grow Relationships
Article,  BriefCASE Article Development communications should engage readers and get to the point quickly, says an expert on persuasive writing.

The Best of Advancement Talk
Podcast MKS Communication's Maura King Scully discusses what type of voice and point of view a development writer should employ in a case statement.

The Editor’s Dilemma: How Should You Cover Campaigns?
CURRENTS Article The development office wants stories in the alumni magazine about institutional campaigns and other fundraising efforts, but editors have a mandate to engage readers (and maintain their journalistic credibility). Several colleges and universities have effectively integrated these two interests in the magazine, and CURRENTS reveals the secrets to their success.

Endowment Reports
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of personalized and general endowment reports and endowment report surveys for all CASE members. Reports are arranged alphabetically by institution.

Endowment Policies
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of endowment policies for all CASE members. Policies are arranged alphabetically by institution.

CASE District VII: Utah 2019 Workshop
Conference CASE District VII: Utah 2019 Workshop

Making Strides
CURRENTS Article This article looks at how higher education institutions are working to keep their communications fresh and engaging through multiyear fundraising campaigns. It discusses how institutions are using websites and microsites, video, and traditional communication channels to engage and inform stakeholders and donors.

Demonstrating the Difference
CURRENTS Article Stewardship and donor relations officers, as well as other advancement professionals, must increasingly be able to answer one big question: How do we know that what we're doing is working? Underlying this question is a desire, sparked by an evolution in the thinking of donors, to help donors understand the effects of their gifts.

Anatomy of an Endowment Report
University of Georgia
This interactive guide walks through the components of the university's endowment reports sent each fall to donors and donor representatives of all endowed funds. Reports reflect the fiscal status and growth of each fund. They are developed by the Office of Donor Relations & Stewardship, which works closely with Financial Services to ensure accurate and timely reporting. The university's Report to Donors is also available.

Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of education institutions' infographics and data visualizations used to convey advancement-related data and stories.

Good Question Does CASE have resources that discuss best practices for designing infographics? What about examples of infographics created for advancement purposes?

Donor-Centered Thank You Letters: Your First Step to the Next Gift
Article In this blog post, Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising, offers 20 characteristics of great thank you letters based on her research with donors.

Donors Optimistic About 2011 Giving
Article,  BriefCASE Article Fundraisers have the power to increase donor retention and gift value by communicating measurable results of giving, reports a new survey on donor giving in North America.

Gift Fees
Good Question Our institution is about to begin charging gift fees. Do you have examples of how other institutions are communicating about this fee to their different audiences?

¿Cómo desarrollar los artículos correctos?
CURRENTS Article Michael Kiser de Virginia Tech analiza la forma en que logró que las comunicaciones de desarrollo centraran su atención en índices que no fueran las cifras. Ahora, su oficina escribe sobre los resultados de las campañas y vincula sus mensajes con los objetivos estratégicos de la universidad. Por ejemplo, en lugar de escribir un artículo cuando la universidad recibe una donación importante, espera hasta que el dinero de esa donación se haya utilizado para construir las nuevas instalaciones y escribe sobre lo que éstas significan para la escuela. Los lectores externos no sólo consideran que estos artículos son más interesantes, estos artículos también le brindan al público interno una mejor idea de lo que se logra con la recaudación de fondos.

Outlook: Saying What We Mean
CURRENTS Article The retired vice president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation pens this opinion column on the dark side of some of the most common development phrases. Does anyone really want to describe their best friend as "low-hanging fruit"? Ick!

Developing the Right Stories
CURRENTS Article Michael Kiser of Virginia Tech discusses how he successfully shifted the focus of development communications away from numbers. Instead, his office now writes about campaign outcomes and ties its messages to the university's strategic aims. For example, instead of writing a story when the university receives a major gift, he waits until the money from that gift has been used to build a new facility and writes about what that new facility has meant for the school. Not only do external audiences find these stories more interesting, but such stories give internal audiences a better understanding of what fundraising does.

Effective Storytelling Can Build Support, Increase Giving
Article,  BriefCASE Article Good, old-fashioned storytelling makes for compelling copy in educational websites and marketing campaigns and can lead to increased interest and support from targeted audiences. That's according to an expert on communications for nonprofits and a recent presenter of a CASE Online Speaker Series.

Stewardship: The Webb Schools - Bronze Award
Best Practice A goal of The Webb Schools' 2007 annual giving program was to do a better job of stewarding constituents in a creative and cost-effective way. Staff implemented two new online strategies: an e-newsletter for class agents that provided current news to share with classmates, and a flash movie for reunion classes. Staff also redesigned an existing holiday greeting to omit the solicitation and serve simply as a greeting and thank you. These three strategies spread goodwill among constituents, motivated class agents and increased annual giving totals. As of December 31, dollars raised and number of donors reached an all-time high.

Messaging Donors
CURRENTS Article Generic mass mailings won't receive the response rates you seek. Your fundraising messages have to resonate with donors personally. Just make sure you know your donors well. This article describes some simple, affordable tools you can use to target your communications efforts.

AdvanceWork: Sign of the Times
CURRENTS Article In light of recent events, even customary mailings aren't above suspicion

Talking Points: The Endowment Mystique
CURRENTS Article News stories in the 1990s called attention to both high endowment growth and rising tuition costs. To many, it appears that higher education institutions are profiting, and some journalists, alumni, lawmakers, and others are calling for institutions to use more of their endowment earnings for tuition relief. This article outlines and clarifies four myths about endowments.

Write-Minded: Making Things Right
CURRENTS Article When your institution makes a mistake that offends a donor, a well-written apology letter can soothe tension and restore trust. Even in embarrassing circumstances, an apology can also provide an opportunity to connect with a constituent and to demonstrate the responsibility and integrity of the institution and its people. Sincerity, responsibility, sensitivity, and a positive attitude are vital. Sarver provides suggestions for wording and advice on following up.

AdvanceWork: Count the Ways
CURRENTS Article ANU's three-tiered communications strategy is a thing of poetry.

Write-Minded: Oscar-Worthy Words
CURRENTS Article Drafting correspondence for another person to send requires a sensitivity to the nuances of personal style, an understanding of context, and the ability to set aside one's own persona. To create realistic letters, ghostwriters should get to know the person for whom they're writing and should also understand the sender's relationship to the recipient.

Did You Say A Billion?
CURRENTS Article Campus communicators must be able to explain, openly and realistically, the need for institutions to seek megagifts and amass multimillion-dollar endowments. The article describes how to address typical questions on these topics from such constituents as faculty, students, taxpayers, trustees, prospective donors, foundation officers, alumni, and reporters.

Write-Minded: Global Vision
CURRENTS Article Cultural, historical, linguistic, and legislative factors affect how people interpret what you write. When writing for an international advancement audience, keep in mind these possible sources of confusion: 1) terminology, because the same word can mean different things in different countries; 2) titles, which vary within and between countries; 3) idioms and jargon, which can be hard for people from other cultures to understand; 4) differences in educational and legal systems; 5) sweeping generalizations, which can be offensive or inaccurate; and 6) references to location and money.

Write-Minded: Everyone's a Critic
CURRENTS Article Collins provides advice on responding to letters from angry donors. When donors request a change that can't be made, make sure you let them know you are not simply dismissing their opinion. Keep a calm and rational institutional voice. Avoid being defensive or combative. When you finish the letter, let it sit overnight so you can give a second look with a fresh perspective.

AdvanceWork: A Doggone Dilemma
CURRENTS Article Problem/Solution

Write-Minded: Noteworthy Thank-yous
CURRENTS Article Writing thank-you notes to donors is simple if you remember the basics. When thanking someone for a significant gift, make it sound believable, and be specific and personal. For small gifts, take a more realistic view of the gift's impact. To ensure that your best supporters always feel appreciated, write notes that recognize their ongoing commitment. Be sure to fact-check and proofread.

Write-Minded: In Time of Sorrow
CURRENTS Article When a donor dies, writing a sympathy letter is a difficult but required part of the development officer's job. Take care that your words are in proportion to your actual relationship with the donor. Be sincere, not effusive. Refer to the donor's connection with the campus. Acknowledge past generosity by talking about the people and programs the donor supported in a way that illustrates how his or her memory will live on at the institution.

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