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Annual Fund & Giving

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Voluntary Support of Education Survey
Council for Aid to Education
Report The Council for Aid to Education conducts the annual Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) Survey, which collects data on private giving to U.S. higher education and private K-12 schools. In addition to a print report, a database called the VSE Data Miner allows subscribers to interact with 300 data variables and create custom reports. Variables include total giving, alumni participation, deferred and bequest giving, and capital purpose and current operations gifts, among others. CASE co-sponsors the annual VSE Survey and encourages members to participate.

Assessment & Benchmarking
Assessment & Benchmarking

Copy and Share Everything
CURRENTS Article The University of Melbourne's "Collision" brand campaign shows that the university is a research institution tackling the world's challenges; Rice University's Owl Edge Externships help undergraduates explore career opportunities and engage more alumni volunteers in the process; and Cheshire Academy's "One Word. One Gift." campaign asks supporters to submit a single word to describe their Cheshire experience and make an annual fund gift in honor of their chosen term.

Invest in Advancement
CURRENTS Article Here are two truisms: These are uncertain times. Fundraising is as important as ever. In Europe, the economic uncertainty surrounding Britain's exit from the European Union has advancement leaders worried. With budgets already tight—in the U.S., public funding for higher education is nearly $10 billion below pre-recession levels—advancement professionals may struggle to convince institutional leaders to invest in fundraising when additional worthy causes, including academic programs or student success initiatives, need funding. But when institutions let up on fundraising, they lose revenue. A recent analysis by Graham-Pelton Consulting found that individuals, foundations, and corporations did not stop giving during the 2008 recession—rather, nonprofits stopped asking. "Organizations that pulled back their fundraising activities ... reported the biggest declines in their income," the consultancy reports in its video on fundraising during uncertain economic times, Fundraising Through Brexit: What You Need to Know. Graham-Pelton's advice: "People don't stop giving, so don't stop asking."

Copy and Share Everything
CURRENTS Article Lawrence University aims to entice potential applicants is with a 10-page square mailer, which gives students a taste of life at the Wisconsin institution as well as an idea of what life might look like after graduation; a charming and authoritative third-grader leads "Today's Lesson: The Pennfield Fund," a five-minute video set up as a class about the importance of the Rhode Island independent school's annual fund; and during Alumni Weekend 2015, Imperial College London reveled in its graduates' proclivity for pranks.

How Well Do You Know PHIL?
CURRENTS Article North Carolina Wilmington’s PHIL Text Trivia puts information about the importance of giving right into students’ hands. Students opt in to the bimonthly quiz for the chance to score prizes, and advancement staff hope that the quiz inspires students to give as alumni.

Copy and Share Everything
CURRENTS Article Get inspired with these Circle of Excellence winners: Red River College finds success with its "Our Grads Get Hired" advertising campaign; University College London's Develpment and Alumni Relations Office initiates a unique and effective onboarding program; and Colgate University's video The Journey Begins helps garner alumni gifts.

Revamping the Annual Fund
CURRENTS Article Educational institutions famously undervalue the annual fund, perceiving it merely as a means to unrestricted funds. Recently, however, a growing number of institutions are recognizing how valuable the annual fund is to the organization's long-term health. To gain footing in annual giving, institutions need to assess their programs and constituents, as well as consider trends in the field. For one, many donors have come to expect choice. In a highly competitive philanthropic market, allowing donors to decide where their money goes could make a significant difference in participation. In addition, using the myriad outreach channels available today will pay dividends. Focusing on broad participation, encouraging restricted giving, and using multiple communication channels are key tactics to consider. Here's how four institutions revamped annual giving and achieved results.

Copy And Share Everything
CURRENTS Article Ideas we love from institutions everywhere: University College Dublin's September 2015 Woodland Walkies event brought alumni and community members to campus for a day of guided walks, animal behavior talks, pet care tips from practitioners and students at UCD's School of Veterinary Medicine; Wake Forest University's June 2015 "52 Hours of Giving" annual fund campaign challenge spurred excitement with a limited edition deck of playing cards; and Imperial College London's October 2015 Imperial Apocalypse social media campaign encouraged students to submit scientific tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse.

Birds of a Feather Give Together
CURRENTS Article A flock of pink plastic flamingos has migrated to the University of Wisconsin-Madison every October since 2013, as part of an annual fundraising effort. A 1979 prank—a student stuck 1,008 plastic flamingos on UW's Bascom Hill—inspired the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association to revive the pink parade as an incentive: Donors to the 24-hour "Fill the Hill" campaign get a flamingo placed on Bascom Hill in recognition.

Are You Following These Annual Fund Strategies?
CURRENTS Article The 2015/16 Independent School Advancement Survey of 352 institutions, conducted in January 2016, found major differences between what development leaders say is important and what they actually do. Researcher and consultant Ingrid Healy explains the trends.

Office Space: Time for a Better Annual Fund Process
CURRENTS Article As a technology enthusiast and longtime advancement services professional, Michael Pasqua developed a routine to reduce the time required to produce annual fund mailing lists.

Outlook: When Gifts Come In Like Clockwork
CURRENTS Article With regular giving, U.K. institutions are seeing rising participation rates, retaining and upgrading more donors, saving limited resources, and raising more money.

To Combat ‘Alumni Crisis,’ Institutions Must Reset Strategy
Article,  BriefCASE Article There’s a crisis in annual giving, says Dan Allenby, and it’s not about dwindling dollar amounts—it’s about alumni.

The Philanthropic President
CURRENTS Article When Raymond Burse became president of Kentucky State University in 2014, he cut his salary by $90,000 to fund a raise for KSU employees earning minimum wage.

Only the Cool Survive
CURRENTS Article For its centennial in 2013, Humboldt State University partnered with area businesses to produce branded ale, coffee, and chocolate.

Goodbye Galas?
CURRENTS Article Hilbert College's No-Tie Gala is a virtual fundraising affair no one attends.

Directed Giving Increases Fundraising Success
Article,  BriefCASE Article Fundraising appeals that offer donors the ability to target their gifts to specific areas can raise more money than appeals that don’t offer such flexibility, according to new academic research.

Class Exodus
CURRENTS Article In 1990, 18 percent of college and university alumni gave to their alma mater, according to the Council for Aid to Education. By 2013, that number had been cut in half to less than 9 percent—a record low and a culmination of a trend that has persisted for more than two decades. The implications of this trend cannot be ignored. It's time to ask some new questions and set better goals for our institutions. It's time to examine what is and isn't working in our advancement practices and to look at how we can provide the best service to our alumni base.

The 8 Steps Muhlenberg College Took to Exceed 910 Donors on 11-12-13
CURRENTS Article For Muhlenberg College's first Day of Giving campaign, participation was the priority. We set out to inspire 910 donors to make an annual gift on 11/12/13, and a record-setting 1,430 donors gave during that 24-hour period. Here's how you, too, can create a successful giving day.

Solutions to Declining Unrestricted Gifts
Article,  BriefCASE Article As unrestricted giving to U.S. colleges and universities declines, fundraisers must find creative ways to secure support for their institutions, say two CASE faculty members.

Fowl Calls
CURRENTS Article During a three-week challenge leading up to the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament in March, three institutions vied to see which bird could gin up the most alumni and undergraduate participation in the annual fund.

Annual Giving
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collections of annual giving samples for all CASE members.

Annual Giving
Good Question Do you have any best practices on annual giving or any sample annual fund campaigns?

Start Major Gift Fundraising
Article,  Community College News Article Community college fundraisers thinking about launching a major giving effort should first establish a robust annual giving campaign, say a pair of foundation directors.

Rescuing the Annual Fund from the Ho-Hum
CURRENTS Article The typical annual fund message about closing the budget gap is boring and confusing. So the Powhatan School injected some creativity, in the form of playfully kitschy videos, into explaining why the fund is important.

Directed Giving
CURRENTS Article Directed giving allows donors to funnel their gifts to broad budget-funding categories but not confine their contributions to specific areas. It helps educate donors about what independent schools achieve with the annual fund while satisfying both their desire to allocate their gifts and the schools' need for flexible donations.

U.S. Colleges, Universities Raise $31B in FY2012
Article,  BriefCASE Article A survey released today by the Council for Aid to Education reveal that charitable contributions to colleges and universities in the United States increased by 2.3 percent in 2012 to $31 billion.

Benchmarking Tools Within Reach
Article,  Community College News Article Community colleges looking for a method to track their fundraising efforts in comparison to their peers should look no further than the Voluntary Support of Education survey, says one advancement leader.

Office Space: Prime Time
CURRENTS Article This column discusses how and why annual giving has grown more sophisticated and more important at higher education institutions in the past couple of decades as well as the challenge of engaging alumni in a weak economy amid rising college costs and student loan debt.

Grooming Students to Give
CURRENTS Article The success of Rochester Institute of Technology's Campaign Day event in 2006 led staff to modify it and make it a campuswide annual fund kickoff event, Raise Our Annual Responses Day.

The Debt Threat
CURRENTS Article A young alumnus would like to give to the annual fund, but his student loan debt is holding him back. What can advancement do to address this burgeoning problem?

Nonprofits Say Annual Giving Revenue, Donor Numbers Grew in FY2011
Article,  BriefCASE Article Nearly 70 percent of respondents to a new survey on annual giving say their organizations raised more during fiscal year 2011 compared to 2010, and more than 60 percent say they saw an increase in the number of donors.

Turning Community College Alumni into Donors
Article,  Community College News Article The advancement staff at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland—where alumni donations increased 89 percent in one year—has discovered practices that turn alumni into donors.

VSE Report: Increase in Giving is “Welcome News,” CASE Says
Article,  BriefCASE Article Donors contributed $30.3 billion to higher education in 2010-11, according to the recently released results of the annual Voluntary Support of Education Survey. The 8.2 percent increase is welcome news, says CASE President John Lippincott.

Office Space: The True Measure of Loyalty
CURRENTS Article This article looks at the importance of benchmarking and assessing your annual fund program in order to improve your rate of donor retention and to create true donor loyalty, not just participation, by getting and keeping donors engaged in meaningful ways with your institution.

Class Show Offs
CURRENTS Article The Baylor School in Tennessee tackles the challenge of illustrating annual fund progress for each grade and spurs some good-natured schoolwide competition in the process.

Learn to Run a Successful Volunteer Annual Fund Blitz
Article,  Community College News Article Last spring, the two-person advancement staff at Los Rios Community College District mobilized volunteers for an annual fund campaign that raised more than $40,000 in two weeks. In October 2011, officials behind the campaign will host a webinar on how to launch a similar campaign with limited staff and resources.

Setting an Example
CURRENTS Article When annual giving by faculty and staff at St. Catherine's School in Virginia reached 100 percent, parents noticed the commitment and increased their giving despite the uncertain economy.

VSE Report: U.S. Donors Show Steady Commitment to Education
Article,  BriefCASE Article While giving to colleges and universities during the 2009-10 fiscal year didn't increase as much as anticipated, donors continued to "demonstrate their commitment to higher education with $28 billion in private support during the slow climb out of the recession," says CASE President John Lippincott in response to the Voluntary Support of Education Survey results.

Blank Slate
CURRENTS Article In an interview with CURRENTS, London South Bank University's head of annual giving, Ullysses Tucker, talks about the challenges of starting an annual giving program from scratch and the differences between fundraising at universities in the United Kingdom versus those in the United States.

The Small Net
CURRENTS Article In spring 2010, Amherst College explored the possibility of using text-to-give technology as a method by which donors could contribute to the school's annual fund but ultimately decided that the costs exceeded the benefits. Amy Bovaird, associate director of Amherst's annual fund, explains why they decided not to use it but also discusses emerging technology that may work in the future.

El pan nuestro de cada día
CURRENTS Article Por qué la colecta anual sigue siendo la base para el éxito de la recaudación de fondos.

Bread and Butter
CURRENTS Article Giving experts and institutional fundraisers argue that annual giving is the bedrock of development success. They make the case for investing in best practices for annual giving today as a foundation for the major gift program of the future.

Toast of the Town
CURRENTS Article The Catholic University of America nearly doubled its annual fund between the years of 2004 and 2008 by strategically revamping its appeals and by fully engaging a team of alumni volunteers who became "the face of philanthropy" for the Washington, D.C., institution. A sidebar tells how Harley School, a private independent day school in Rochester, N.Y., gave its annual giving program a makeover in less than five years.

The Giving Gap
CURRENTS Article Some of the circumstances that keep alumni giving participation rates low at public institutions cannot be changed. But what circumstances can be changed? In this story, various public universities share strategies that helped them to increase alumni participation and giving.

Advance Work: Tweet and Greet
CURRENTS Article The University of Leeds uses Twitter to communicate about its annual fund drive. Student phonathon callers tweet about the nightly results and other information of note.

The Annual Fund: A Building Block for Fund Raising
Henry A. Rosso; introduction by Robert Schwartzberg, for the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University
Article This article, pre-course reading for the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, introduces basic fundraising concepts and their relationship to the annual fund.

VSE Survey Shows Sharp Drop in 2009 Giving to U.S. Colleges, Universities
Article,  BriefCASE Article Charitable contributions to colleges and universities in the United States declined 11.9 percent to $27.85 billion, an indication that the impact of the recession on donors and the institutions they support was “even greater than anticipated,” according to CASE President John Lippincott.

Smooth Mailing
CURRENTS Article Direct mail isn't dead yet, but institutions can't do business as usual. This article explores how some institutions are learning how to integrate e-mail, Facebook, and other Web tools into their annual fund appeals.

The Big Match and... Twitter
Article,  BriefCASE Article The University of Leeds is using Twitter to make its annual fund campaign more interactive and to promote the advantages of the UK government’s £200million matched funding scheme.

Ross-CASE Survey Shows Increased Higher Ed Giving Prior to Worst of the Recession
Article,  BriefCASE Article Giving to universities in the United Kingdom grew by 28 percent to £682 million in 2007-2008, according to the Ross-CASE Survey.

Advancement Achievers
CURRENTS Article Profiles of selected 2002 Circle of Excellence winners

Advance Work: Cultivating Cocky Behavior
CURRENTS Article The University of South Carolina created an annual giving campaign that appeals to young alumni.

Harvard-Westlake School: Gold Award
Best Practice Harvard-Westlake School implemented a number of strategies to improve its 2006-2007 annual giving program. As a result, the program met its goals and exceeded $6,000,000 in gifts, showed increased individual giving and showed increased participation rates.

Winning Ideas
CURRENTS Article This article gives in-depth profiles of eight of the 2008 CASE Circle of Excellence Award winners. These winners were chosen to represent a wide range of types of institution as well as each aspect of advancement: fundraising, alumni relations, communications and marketing, and advancement services.

Cinderella Doesn't Live Here
CURRENTS Article The annual fund is the most obvious place to go looking to develop your major gifts, but it is also the most overlooked. Here are concrete strategies for building your pipeline.

Postcard from Puebla
CURRENTS Article When an institution in Mexico needs to find the correct way to begin an annual giving program, they discover their answers in corporate sponsorships of scholarships.

Annual/Regular Giving Programs: The College of New Jersey - Gold Medal
Best Practice The College of New Jersey embarked on an aggressive campaign called "Target 10,000." The goals were to increase alumni participation in the annual fund by at least 1,000 gifts in the first year and to 10,000 gifts within three years, increase online donations by at least 10 percent, and establish a peer-to-peer solicitation program.

A League of Their Own
CURRENTS Article The 2006 Circle of Excellence award winners profiled in this article are hitting it out of the park. This article describes a few of the grand gold and gold medal award winners.

Never Say Never
CURRENTS Article Is it worth the development office's time and money to keep soliciting those with no history or a dormant history of giving to alma mater? What are the pros and cons of continually trying to build relationships with inactive prospects? Experts say institutions should never completely abandon their never-givers, but should have realistic expectations for return on investment.

Career Path: Out of the Shadows
CURRENTS Article Annual giving jobs are no longer mere stepping stones to major gift positions. Instead, annual fund professionals are gaining new respect for their skills with statistics, data mining, market research, customer and volunteer relations, and more. This Career Path column is of interest to annual giving professionals, development managers, and major gift officers.

Outgrowing the Annual Fund
CURRENTS Article Top-level annual donors deserve special attention to maintain their commitment. It’s often best to manage these donors within the annual fund office, but with special cultivation and stewardship methods such as in-person solicitation visits, personal letters, special events, gift clubs, and volunteer opportunities on campus boards or committees. Strategies such as challenge gifts can encourage them to increase their annual donations, and some of them will eventually make major gifts.

Making Peace between Annual and Major Gifts
CURRENTS Article The difference between annual and major gifts lies more in their purpose and their relationship to the donor’s capacity than in their actual dollar amount. To ensure that the annual and major gift programs work together successfully, development leaders must articulate clear donor strategies, use the annual fund to feed the major donor program, and promote the “dual ask”--the practice of asking major donors for continuing annual fund gifts.

AdvanceWork: Testing Assumptions
CURRENTS Article One university's challenge to annual giving beliefs provides insight into ask amounts.

Proceed According to Plan
CURRENTS Article Development officers often don’t create a strategic plan for the annual fund. But doing so can help them develop goals and strategies, plan budgets and timelines, set priorities, built awareness, prevent interference, and create continuity even amid staff turnover. The author outlines the approaches six institutions take to drawing up a strategic plan.

The Unexamined Donor
CURRENTS Article The author argues that annual fund strategies should be based on a careful analysis of donor behavior. Donor participation and donor value, rather than total revenue, are the most important benchmarks. By examining key donor segments and looking at factors like donor retention, lapsed-donor reactivation, new-donor acquisition, donor loyalty, and donor upgrade, annual fund officers can target their efforts far more effectively.

Fund Raising on Main Street
CURRENTS Article An annual fund appeal focusing on local business can help affirm and strengthen the institution's ties to the community. The first step is to develop a case explaining why the campus merits support. To identify donors, start with the local chamber of commerce or regional development board. Recruit and train prospective volunteers representing different business sectors. Screen prospects according to traditional criteria, and then cultivate and solicit donors. Finally, develop appropriate ways to recognize local business donors and volunteers.

AdvanceWork: A Doggone Dilemma
CURRENTS Article Problem/Solution

World-Class Annual Funds
CURRENTS Article Wondering how you might broaden your annual fund campaign to include prospects outside the United States? Consider these tips: 1) target those countries where your alumni are most concentrated; 2) follow your campus’ strengths by targeting countries where faculty already possess expertise; and 3) focus on building ties with parents. How can you keep overseas prospects connected to your institution? Consider establishing an alumni association just for alumni in a particular part of the world, and encourage volunteers with overseas connections to get involved. When communicating about the importance of philanthropy, remember that approaches to natives of other countries and U.S. expatriates need to be different. When wondering if you should use English in all correspondence, use English if you teach in English.

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